Thursday, 14 August 2014

08:01 – I’m covered up with kit orders, but still managing to get kits shipped without delays. At the moment, I have seven outstanding kit orders that came in yesterday evening and overnight.

I’m very careful to comply with all the requirements for shipping hazardous materials, but sometimes I wonder why I bother. Many shippers seem to ignore them completely. For example, yesterday I got a delivery of a bunch of chemicals that included 12 kilos of sodium hydroxide (AKA caustic soda or lye). It was shipped via UPS as ordinary goods, without so much as a warning label on the box.

Then there’s Amazon. One of the AP chemistry labs involves testing various chemicals for suitability in making hand-warmers. Among those chemicals is ammonium nitrate, an explosive fertilizer famous for being used in the Oklahoma City bombing. Our AP chemistry kit will include a 30 gram bottle of the stuff, carefully packaged to meet hazardous chemical shipping regulations. I could use lab-grade or even reagent-grade ammonium nitrate in the kits, but there’s no point to paying the higher price for purer ammonium nitrate. We’re making hand-warmers, after all. But ammonium nitrate is also used in the cold-packs you can buy at the drugstore, so I checked Amazon. Sure enough, they had a 24-pack of ammonium nitrate cold-packs for $15, including free Prime shipping. UPS showed up with the case of cold-packs yesterday, again without so much as a warning label on the box. I’m guessing those 24 cold-packs probably contain at least five kilos of ammonium nitrate. Geez.