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Laws re: Science Equipment

joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class TraitorSmoke-filled roomRegistered User regular
Most people who know me personally on here know I'm an environmental chemist. My eldest son recently took an interest in my occupation and has been making attempts to impress me with his knowledge of all things science, which warms the cockles of my heart.

He is constantly asking me to do demonstrations for him, which I used to do when I worked as a research assistant at my university. Now, though, I don't have the sort of things I'd need to do something that would be meaningful and put him squarely ahead of his fellow peers. Unfortunately, I live in Texas, though, and I have heard horror stories that owning anything that has ground glass is a one-way ticket to getting your door kicked down.

I'm not wanting to purchase suspicious chemicals like methylamine or pseudoephedrine in bulk, or dangerous things like compounds with nitro functional groups or chloroform. I just want a very basic set of chemistry tools; things like a round bottom flask with a distillation column and thermometer to demonstrate boiling point, or a couple of common salts that will change colors when poured to demonstrate replacement reactions. That kind of thing.

Should I stick to kitchen chemistry? I honestly have no intention to synthesize drugs. If I wanted to do that I have all this stuff at my work laboratory, but I can't (and won't) take company property home, and I rather like not being in jail so I'll stick to harmless things. Like measuring pH!

Basically what I'm asking is if I want my son to get a head start on science, can I actually use good equipment or do I need to use the shitty stuff they sell to everybody at Cracker Barrel to grow your own Sea Monkeys because there's a drug war on?

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    XandarXandar Registered User regular
    Order the lab equipment from your work (with boss's OK), pay for the new materials, problem solved? My wife acquired pipettemen, and other sundry equipment this way while she was doing her PhD, however college vs industry may have different views on equipment acquisition. Hell we STILL get catalogs for that junk and she hasn't done bench science in 8 years.

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    SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    Is there any way you could get him over to your workplace and do something there?

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    Joe Camacho MKIIJoe Camacho MKII Registered User regular
    I'm not a lawyer (American lawyer to be precise.) and I'm just asking in case you haven't done so already... Have you asked someone from your current laboratory (Like their procurement or acquisitions department.) and see if they can help you out with buying lab equipment?

    Maybe they can point you to their suppliers and they can tell you precisely what you can and can't buy.

    steam_sig.png I edit my posts a lot.
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    SilverEternitySilverEternity Registered User regular
    I'm a teacher and have ordered kits for an after-school program from here:

    Fisher Science Education

    Economic Glassware

    If I recall correctly (it was a while ago) I didn't have to enter any credentials to order. I'm sure it's not professional grade, but good enough for K-12 level chemistry. I have to imagine that they would let parents order for home-school / enrichment situations.

    I'm not a lawyer, nor do I live in Texas, but I imagine having glassware wouldn't be an issue. As you suggest in your post, I think the type of chemicals you obtain or try to obtain would be a bigger issue.

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    CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    There's nothing stopping a private citizen from buying glassware. I ordered a fair amount of lab supplies in my own name when I was a grad student. There's a weird thrift shop sort of thing catering to artists near where I live now that has a whole section dedicated to selling lab surplus crap. Chemicals shouldn't be a problem either if you don't want anything that's classified as restricted. You can buy a fair number of things right on Amazon.

    It's kind of a shame that you can't find chemistry sets anymore. I had one as a kid that would do pretty much everything you described.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class Traitor Smoke-filled roomRegistered User regular
    Thanks guys, I suppose even if the FBI come to kennel my wife and ravish my dog they won't be able to do anything if I am clearly not making controlled substances.

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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Yeah they're probably watching the chemical side, rather than the hardware side. Lots of practical applications for the hardware side that doesn't involve cooking meth!

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    KiplingKipling Registered User regular
    There is also the safety side of things, related to disposal if you get something that actually requires it.

    Look through science fair project ideas - the basic ones for middle school are safe. The simplest demonstration of chromatography is with markers, paper and an organic solvent. There are some cool biomimicry project sites with ideas there as well

    3DS Friends: 1693-1781-7023
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    joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class Traitor Smoke-filled roomRegistered User regular
    edited May 2013
    Oh I won't have him working with chloroform or anything

    I just want him to be familiar with the glassware/basic safety and procedures by the time he takes chemistry for real

    So he can be bored while they explain what an Erlenmeyer flask is

    joshofalltrades on
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    see317see317 Registered User regular
    Have you considered calling the local police department and talking to them about what you want to do?
    I'd think that if anyone would be able to tell you where the line between "fun science hobby" and "potential meth lab that's going to merit a no-knock warrant at 3am" it'd be the cops.

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    joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class Traitor Smoke-filled roomRegistered User regular
    edited May 2013
    I actually did call the police before I started this thread, the response went like this:

    "It's best for everyone if you just didn't get any of that stuff at all. The law is kind of vague on what can be construed as paraphernalia. What's your name, son? Where do you live?"

    joshofalltrades on
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    joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class Traitor Smoke-filled roomRegistered User regular
    But maybe a lawyer would be a better alternative?

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    Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    I actually did call the police before I started this thread, the response went like this:

    "It's best for everyone if you just didn't get any of that stuff at all. The law is kind of vague on what can be construed as paraphernalia. What's your name, son? Where do you live?"

    Detective of the fucking year right there, folks.

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    Blake TBlake T Do you have enemies then? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.Registered User regular
    It would be considered paraphernalia if you didn't have justification for it. (a background in science and the non-meth related chemicals is justification).

    You will be perfectly fine. If the police ever knock on your door and take it as "evidence" just get a receipt and wait it out as it will come back fine.

    The police is just being lazy and will say "don't buy this" as it's easier for them.

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    KiplingKipling Registered User regular
    If anyone ever asks, fragrance oil extraction. Legit use. I don't know if what you described would even work for a steam distillation.

    As long as any stuff that you could get you in trouble remains far away from it, you will be fine. If they shoot a residual swab on a GCMS and get something they don't like, that's when flag will go up.

    3DS Friends: 1693-1781-7023
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    AustralopitenicoAustralopitenico Registered User regular
    edited May 2013
    Last time I checked the law worked on the assumption that you are innocent unless proven otherwise. If there are legit uses for your hardware (and in this case there are legit uses aplenty) then they would need to prove that you are doing something illegal. Any other thing would be as stupid as accusing you of possession of "murder paraphernalia" because of that knife set you have in your kitchen. IANAL, though, and in these interesting times who knows what police can dare to do.

    Australopitenico on
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    DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    The cop isn't your lawyer. He gave you the answer that causes the least problems for him.

    Assuming these chemicals are unrelated to the meth "elephant in the room" chemicals I wouldn't worry too much about it. Order from where your work or school did. If you run into a roadblock there then maybe reassess.

    Second, document what you are using these for or to put it in a more adorable way, videotape using these with your son. It shows that your "legitimate purpose" isn't just BS and hey, you have cool videos of you doing stuff with your kids. Probably with some reactions that will be hilarious when they're older. Win-win.

    Nod. Get treat. PSN: Quippish
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    InfidelInfidel Heretic Registered User regular
    "And that, Billy, is why you don't have eyebrows like the other kids."

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