So how does one go about beginning an underground laboratory? The answer is: "they don't". You see that would be illegal. Hypo-thetically though, one would need 3 things: a combination heating-magnetic stirring plate, chemicals and glassware. The stirplate is no problem. The chemicals and glassware are sort of a problem. But Strike is going to go over how all of these things can be bought, substituted for or made. Good production can be had with crude, makeshift equipment. But believe Strike, the most effective chemistry possible is achieved with a good heating stirplate and a ground glass distillation kit. So let's see how the good stuff can be had before we discuss the back-up plans. There are basically four types of businesses out there that cater to people needing scientific stuff.
(1) Little, local walk-up type stores
These kinds of stores carry hobby/craft supplies, gimmicky science fair projects, ant farms and a low assortment of basic scienceware products such as beakers, thermometers, scales, rubber stoppers and most of the basic chemicals such as acids, bases and solvents. These places are listed in the chemicals section of any big city's yellow pages and are relatively safe places to get most of the basic lab necessities. The drawback is that they are really expensive and don't sell very large quantities of any chemical. It is possible to have these places special order a needed chemical as long as it's not a controlled chemical.
(2) Local middlemen companies
These places are also local businesses that can be found in the chemicals section of any big city's yellow pages except that these places have some big connections. By this Strike means that they are licensed distributors for some of the biggest chemical and scienceware companies and manufacturers. Those big companies would never sell a thing to a punk like you or Strike. Even if a punk like you or Strike was to present a fake business front or
something they would scrutinize it very closely and would require proofs of clientele etc., etc.
It's needless to say that this is too much to ask of a street punk. That is where these distributors can help. They have the license and authority to sell anything (both chemical and glassware) that the chemist needs and are not subject to the same policies that the companies they sell for employ. This is not meant as a put-down but these distributors are like car salesmen. The only way they make money is through the commission on sales. This means that they tend not to care about whom they sell these other companies' products to. They just want to sell stuff. A chemist calls one of these companies and orders something simple like a thermometer or water and then pays for it promptly. Having then established an account (a foot in the door) the chemist will have gained that company's trust in knowing that she (the chemist) is a good customer. Then, next time, a little catalyst, ether or, perhaps, a distillation kit can be ordered. Having already established that the chemist is a good customer they tend not to ask for the required permit to buy glassware or as to the purpose that some chemical is needed for. And so the charade goes on.
These types of businesses are the prime choice a chemist will use to get that specialty chemical or piece of glassware. There are thousands of such places around the nation, Canada and Mexico.
(3) National distributors
If a chemist were to go down to her local university or graduate research school she could find science company catalogues in the library and in the divisional labs and offices of the research center. Representatives of every conceivable scienceware company and manufacturer like to drop off tons of their catalogues in the hope that someone will order some of their products. If the library has none, then the chemist goes up to one of the labs and asks somepne if she could take a look at some of their catalogues. This fs not a problem because the labs are full of graduate students who are dying for attention. Some have so many catalogue^ they don't use that, if asked, they would probably give the chemist some.
What the chemist is looking for are product companies that sell everything but glassware and chemicals. The reason for this is that if they know they don't sell anything that is watched then they have no reason to care who buys their stuff. In fact, they want to sell the chemist stuff very badly. The other types of catalogues to look for are those that accept credit cards and- money orders as payment. These companies obviously sell to individuals. All of these companies are excellent places to stock up on everything the chemist needs, especially low priced magnetic stirplates, vacuum pumps, plasticware (great alternatives to some glassware), electronic scales and, in some instances, chemicals and glassware. These companies are just like local distributors only bigger.
(4) Big name science houses and chemical manufacturers These include such names as Fisher, Baxter, VWR, Cole-Parmer, Alltech, Aldrich and Sigma. It is very hard to get a fledgling account with these giants, but if one can then the sky's the limit. Most chemists should be happy getting these companies' products through the distributors.
No matter what type of company the chemist chooses to purchase from it is a good idea to have some of the actual catalogues from the big name science houses and glassware manufacturers. This is because it will help to have the company's actual product catalogue number whether one is ordering from a distributor or from the company itself (looks professional, bubba!). These really big catalogues are down at the university or the chemist can request one from the company itself. They also make excellent reference books and are just plain interesting to read and daydream of the day when one can order such-and-such an apparatus as is depicted on page whatever.
So with catalogue or list of items needed in hand it is time for the chemist to order. The following is an example of how a typical call will proceed and how it will be handled by a chemist no matter what business she calls:
Customer rep: "Good morning, Blah Blah Inc." Evil chemist: "Uh, yes, this is Fake Name calling for Fake Company Name and I need to order some items or possibly open an account."
Rep: "Does your company currently have an existing account with us?"
[ They always ask this whether or not they were just told that a customer is a new one ]
Evil: "No, we used to have an account with Rival Scientific Company but they couldn't seem to get our orders on time." Rep: "And what is your company's name and address?"
[ They ask this first because they want to bag the chemist as customer or at least get them on a mailing list so that they can hound the chemist later to buy more of their stuff ]
Evil: "Fake Company Name, at Address Of A Friend's House."
[ Delivery to an apartment address is unwise and there are very few companies that will deliver science products to a P.O. box]
Rep: "O.K. Mr. Fake Name, what can we do for you today?"
Now the chemist rattles off the catalogue numbers of the things she wants and the quantity of each. After the order is confirmed the chemist asks that the entire order be shipped by overnight express and has this added to the total bill. The chemist then asks for the purchase order number of the purchase she just made so that she can include this on the payment she's going to send. The chemist uses a reputable money order and sends this money order to the company via priority overnight mail. All this rushing accomplishes two things: it shows that the chemist's company is a professional, goal- oriented company, and it also gives no one any time to second guess a thing or establish a stakeout of the delivery site.
At times it may seem that Strike is implying that buying from these companies is a cat-and-mouse affair that leaves suspicions high and traces put on one's phone line. This cannot be further from the truth. These companies want to sell their products. If they had to file notice to the DEA or demand documentation every time someone called then they would be broke in a week. This does not mean that a chemist should be careless. It's just that if a chemist is polite, friendly and smart then almost anything can be had. And since, as this book will point out, most everything the chemist needs will be unwatched, there will not be a great deal of suspicion no matter what the chemist orders. Just remember one thing: the chemist never orders anything to the same place she cooks at.
Science dealerships aren't the only places to get the stuff one needs. At those mega hardware stores one can find pure acetone, methanol, ethanol, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone, DCM(as a constituent of some stripping agents), sodium hydroxide in the form of lye, and some acids such as sulfuric and hydrochloric. These precious tools can be bought there cheaply and in great quantity.
Then there are other places such as chemical waste exchanges, pool supply companies, electroplating companies, photography supply shops, agriculture companies, specialty gas canister companies and just about any place where a chemical can be sold.
Finally, if one simply cannot find the thing one needs then it's time to hit the bibles of industrial and commercial sources: "Chemical Buyers Weekly", "Chemsource U.S.A." and the massive "Thomas Register". These three source books can be found at most libraries and contain the listings and services of just about every business in the country. No matter what the chemist needs, it can be found in these books. Even if it takes going one-by-one through the listings, Strike can assure you that the chemist will find what she needs and someone that will sell it to her.
The one source Strike does not condone is theft. If you steal then you are a weasel and a coward.
Continue reading here: Glassware
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