Whether you are an amateur scientist or are looking for a way to invent the next miracle cure, setting up a home chemistry lab is a great way to have 24-hour access to your experiments. Believe it or not, creating a home lab is actually quite simple, as long as you take the proper safety precautions. With your home lab, you can undertake a variety of projects, and they are also a great idea for chemistry majors, as they will be able to use the lab when studying and preparing for in-class experiments. Here is a step-by-step guide on setting up and maintaining your home chemistry lab.
1. Choose an Appropriate Area
Since you may be conducting experiments that involve chemicals, it is always a good idea to set up your lab in an area of the home that has proper ventilation and away from the general gathering areas. Typical areas tend to be the basement (as long as there are windows), the garage, or an outdoor shed. Your lab area should have easy access to power, and you also want to make sure there is a fire extinguisher nearby at all times.
2. Build Your Inventory
While there are a variety of chemicals, tools, and supplies that are used in scientific experiments, you can get started with some basic chemicals and slowly build your inventory. Depending on the specific experiments you are planning on conducting, you will most likely need a Bunsen burner, glass jars and beakers, coffee filters, copper wire, and string. Additional starter supplies can include table salt, borax, epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), food coloring, calcium chloride, rubbing alcohol, sodium hydroxide, unflavored gelatin, and galvanized nails.
3. Educate Yourself on Lab Safety
Safety in the lab is of the utmost importance, especially if you share your home with others. Aside from having the proper safety gear on site (goggles, gloves), you also want to follow some basic safety guidelines in order to ensure that your lab is running safely and efficiently. An eyewash should be your number one priority, and you can purchase eyewashes that can easily be mounted to your standard home faucet.
Additionally, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the chemical safety information listed on each and every lab chemical you have in your inventory, regardless of whether or not it is a typical household item. This way you will be able to avoid potential chemical interactions and properly protect yourself during your experiments. By educating yourself on basic safety precautions and using common sense, you will know what to do in the event of an emergency and for the most part, you should be able to run your home lab in a safe and productive fashion.
4. Get Started on Your Groundbreaking Experiments
Once you have set up your lab and educated yourself on basic lab safety, you are ready to get started on your first experiment. Home chemistry labs can be a lot of fun, and they are perfect for students, aspiring chemists, and inventors. You never know, your home lab may turn out to be the very location of the world’s next groundbreaking discovery!
Alan Schuster is a recently retired high school chemistry teacher. His passion is all things science and tech, and he blogs about both any time he gets the chance. Click here for more about how to buy lab supplies online.
Image by Horia Varlan