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  1. #1

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    Where can I buy Ethyl Ether?

    Does anybody know where I can purchase Ethyl Ether as an individual without a business license? I have all the other ingredients to begin wet plate but can not seem to get the ether.

    I reside in Houston Texas and would prefer a local purchase, so I don't have to deal with Haz Mat shipping, but have absolutley no problem ordering online if there is a company that is willing to ship to me.

    Thanks in Advance
    Ryan

  2. #2
    RobertP's Avatar
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    Sciencelab.com.....they're in Houston

  3. #3
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    You can get premade wet plate chemistry from several sources. It contains the ether.

    Be aware that ether is extremely flammable, forms explosive mixtures with air, and with keeping forms explosive peroxides. So, keep it closed, away from any flame such as pilot lights (20 - 100 ft minimum) and don't keep it too long. The vapors are heavier than air and sink to flow along the ground mixing with air to form explosive mixtures which can ignite even from hot items such as hot water pipes or a hot plate.

    How do I know? Experience.

    PE

  4. #4
    RobertP's Avatar
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    As PE says...Know all the chemicals involved with wet-plate. I use chemicals such as cadmium bromide and potassium cyanide for wet plate. With some chemicals there is no room for even one mistake. I even go as far as storing all my flammables in a Fisher Scientific explosion proof fridge. No you needn't go to that extreme but I sleep much better knowing in case of the unexpected, these chemicals that are stored in an attached garage at least have another line of defense before reaching the living quarters. Use gloves, respirator, proper ventilation and common sense and you can have a great time with wet-plate with amazing results. Read all of your MSDS' and know what your handling. Its no different than your everyday college chemistry class. Always error on the side of caution. I'm no different than any other wet head ...after awhile I start liking that smell of ether. Many times I will not bother with that stupid respirator. I figure hell I'm only going to be exposed for about 30 seconds and hell there is good ventilation here. But in proper practice that is wrong. So do as I say and not as I do and your kidneys and other organs will be in much better shape than mine. But with some chemicals like potassium cyanide you don't get a chance at long term exposure. One little screw up and they are throwing dirt on your face. So the bottom line is: Work safe and kick out some soul piercing ambrotypes, tintypes, prints on albumen from glass negs and express yourself!!! Robert

  5. #5

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    Welcome Ryan,

    If you have done ether extractions you have seen ether fires. Very impressive. But, it is fun until... Many years ago a co-worker was badly burned when he unplugged a forgotten-and-nearly-run-dry ether still (in a fume hood I might add). Not pretty. Also as PE has said, peroxides - bad, grrrr, hiss!
    Storage is best in an explosives shack - hard walls - soft roof - vent the explosion up. One tends to forget about the ether. It ages, not gracefully. Of course it is used without incident most of the time - just be careful. Oh yes, and as RobertP is implying, familiarity breeds just about everything.

    Cheers,
    Clarence

  6. #6

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    Thanks for the info guys and the safety. I am aware of the hazards of ether, but I could always use a refresher. I will check with sciencelab tomorrow and see what I can order.

    As for dealing with ether explosions, I am a photo major at Sam Houston State University. I just talked to the chair of the chemistry department at Sam and he told me to add a small amout of ferrous sulfate to my ether and that will help contain it and keep it from reacting as quickly. This won't make it completly safe, but will help keep it safer.

    Any idea how this will effect my wet plate recipe? I figured I would try it with a small amount of ether and then make a plate. Then just check the out come. Has anybody tried this?

  7. #7
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    Ferrous sulfate is the common wetplate plate developer. Putting it in your ether would introduce it to the collodion before it had a chance to sensitize. I'm not sure what effect it might have on the silver bath. I would caution that it might adversely affect that costly solution.

    Additional ether may not be needed anyways. You could try substituting 190 proof ethyl alcohol (and some use denatured alcohol) in place of any additional ether added to a collodion. I've had success with the ethanol method as have others who frequent the collodion forums. The denatured alcohols are toxic so I avoid them except to clean labware. There is some evidence that denaturing agents slow the degradation of working collodions and may actually reverse the aging effects.

    Which collodion formula are you planning to mix?

    If you must use ether, obtain the smallest amount you'll need and use it quickly. Quickly to me means less than three months under optimum storage conditions. Don't store any if you don't have to. Once opened, keep air out of the bottle to lessen peroxide formation. A gas blanket would work or you can displace air using glass marbles in the bottle as you use the ether. As others have said, keep it in a cool dark place away from ignition sources.

    I don't know if Artchemicals.com will sell to you without a business license, but they have the smallest quantitities (i.e., 50ml) of ether available that I've seen listed anywhere.

    I have some safety links for ether and other chemicals used in the wetplate process in the resources section of my new online wetplate article (see sig below).

    Joe

  8. #8
    RobertP's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that most ether being produced today contain peroxide inhibitors, making them much more stable than the ether they used 150 yr. ago. But I would still add glass marbles to the bottle to bring the level up to full and dispense the air. If you watch John Coffer's video you'll notice the 1 gallon jug of ether he uses. I'm sure even with Coffer a gallon last quite a long time. I order 2 one liter (glass) bottles when I order just to make the minimum order. I keep them stored in a explosion proof fridge. The second bottle may not be opened for 6 months but I have never had a problem with it as of yet. But error on the side of caution.

  9. #9

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    Has anyone ever used diesel starting fluid spray as a source of ether?

  10. #10
    richard ide's Avatar
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    Dana,

    Having played with that stuff when I was a kid, I would think it far to dangerous as it comes out as a spray which evaporates into a potentialy explosive cloud almost instantaneously. Ether is far too volatile to even think of that as a source.
    Richard

    Why are there no speaker jacks on a stereo camera?

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