The New Aldrich Catalog is Almost Here

January 2nd, 2007

I just pre-ordered a copy of the new Aldrich Catalog Handbook of Fine Chemicals. After two editions with preposterous colors (teal and orange peel), they finally got it right: glorious crimson.

I don’t know about everyone else, but the Aldrich catalog ranks #1 on my list of the top desk references of all time. Vogel’s Handbook of Practical Organic Chemistry is #2, followed by March, Silverstein & Webster, and Jencks. While I’m increasingly using Web sites and databases (e.g. ISIS) to place orders, I can always count on the Aldrich catalog for FW, b.p., and density.

My chemistry lab partner from high school said that when he took sophomore organic chemistry here, Jacobsen told the entire class to go on the Web and request a copy of the Aldrich handbook. I bet the guys in Milwaukee were really pleased about having to ship a hundred of these 5-lb. monsters to Cambridge for students who didn’t need to order anything. That said, giving handbooks away as freebies probably makes good business sense. I’m always surprised at my fellow researchers’ loyalty to the company; they blindly order from Aldrich without looking at Alfa Aesar, TCI, or anyone else. A lot of times there’s a big difference in price, and I doubt that the quality is that far off. The only other example of chemical brand loyalty that comes to mind is organometallic chemists’ love of Strem. They either sell higher quality reagents or have an outstanding marketing department.

Previous Comments

  1. Ψ*Ψ Says:
    January 2nd, 2007 at 11:51 pm I had to order one for the synth class here. They definitely sent me the “life sciences” catalog instead. I can’t live without it as a desk reference either. The colors don’t bother me, though…makes the thing easier to find when someone else in the lab runs off with it.
  2. Paul Says:
    January 3rd, 2007 at 12:44 am Hmmm…after reading this post again, I’m going to put Strunk & White at #3 and push the others down a notch.
  3. excimer Says:
    January 3rd, 2007 at 4:17 am I can certainly say without hesitation that Strem’s quality in organometallics is far superior to that of Aldrich’s, especially, for some reason, with palladium compounds. Also Aldrich doesn’t sell pure DEAD anymore.It is a shame that people don’t consider ordering from other chemical companies, but it’s probably for the reason you give- the Aldrich catalog is a great reference tool, so it’s in front of you anyway, so why bother ordering anywhere else? But it is is one good lesson one learns from working for a prof who’s either broke or a cheapskate- how to shop around. Some places have freakin’ DEALS on chemicals for who knows why.Then again, Aldrich gives free next-day delivery to our school, I guess since we’re close to Milwaukee, which is wonderful for those last-minute necessities. There are lots of ways that chemical suppliers try to woo academic customers into setting up contracts with them, but I think that one is among my favorites. At my old school Acros and TCI gave not insignificant discounts. I’m sure there are others.

    Also, Aldrich’s website is the least crappy in a list of supremely crappy supply websites. That helps (me) a lot too.

    Finally, I apologize for always leaving such long comments with little substance. They will not cease.

  4. John Spevacek Says:
    January 3rd, 2007 at 10:29 am Saving money? My perspective on that whole issue has changed with my latest employer. I work in a contract R & D house, so now all my hours are billable at a three figure rate. Saving a few bucks here or there is nothing compared to the time and the corresponding dollars that I put into saving a few bucks.The question I have is if I ever go back to a more normal employment situation, would my perspective change? Should it?
  5. pc Says:
    January 3rd, 2007 at 10:50 am It’s said that about half of the chemicals offered in the Aldrich catalog come from other suppliers. Don’t have a reference for that, just words from someone that have worked for Aldrich.
  6. Uncle Al Says:
    January 3rd, 2007 at 11:42 am When founder good Dr. Bader was in charge it was “chemists helping chemists.” The cost of an Aldrich item was almost always just slightly less than making it yourself. Dr. Bader was booted by his Board and now it is “chemists helping themselves to chemists.”For all that, Santa Claus with fangs is still better than a faith-based government initiative. Aldrich may be overpriced, but it is competent and swift to deliver. (Beware their borane solutions.)
  7. milkshake Says:
    January 3rd, 2007 at 12:16 pm Strem is awesome, that’s what Alfa Aesar could have been if they did not miss the opportunity.
    It is quite infrequent to witness growth of a good and useful company like Strem – I remember when they just started with their lab-quantity organometalic catalog and there was this old little guy at the ACS meeting vendor show booth, and it was Dr. Strem, the founder…Aldrich-Fluka catalog has (almost) everything, they kept very good quality/purity standards over the years and they make ordering easy – so a slight markup is justifyable. The first commandment of any successful business is “Thou shall not suck” and Aldrich is pretty tolerable in this respect. Having the basic physical data on every compound in the catalog was a smart move that put them on the shelf in every lab – but this would not have gotten them very far if they annoyed their custommers.
  8. Wolfie Says:
    January 3rd, 2007 at 9:39 pm Have you ever noticed the wonderful paintings on the cover ? They are still there because founder Dr. Bader was an art lover and he also founded a really lovable museum in St. Louis. Sure he was ousted by his board later, but these are just the modern side effects of business in the US.
  9. Wolfie Says:
    January 3rd, 2007 at 11:01 pm I’m still amazed at on how many of your posts I had the last word. It must tell something on my character.
  10. Paul Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 12:19 am Yes, it says a lot about you—that no one can understand most of your comments.
  11. Wolfie Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 12:36 am Am I crazy ? If yes, ban be, PLEASE.
  12. Paul Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 12:46 am No. Every village needs an idiot.
  13. Wolfie Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 12:50 am You got it.
  14. Mitch Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 1:06 am Being an idiot is one thing, a troll quite an other.Mitch
  15. Wolfie Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 1:09 am Really ??
  16. Jan Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 4:38 am It is always worth to look around when you want to order chemicals. I often find suppliers cheaper then Aldrich. For starting a market survey for a given chemical http://www.chemexper.com/ is a decent search engine. Sometimes you find a source willing to sell you 1 kg for the aldrich price of 10 g…
  17. milkshake Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 1:04 pm MDL/ISIS-ACD database search client is by a wide margin superior to other ways of searching for commercial chemicals/alternative suppliers. Get it – it is worth the money.
  18. Mitch Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 1:47 pm I don’t know milkshake, http://www.chemexper.com/ is pretty good.
  19. anonymous Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 3:41 pm Hi all, can anyone tell me what’s the password to get view the archives of Tenderbutton.com?
  20. Dustin James Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 6:28 pm My Aldrich catalog is one of my most important reference books, especially when I was doing water treatment and technology development and there were not a lot of chemistry books around.As to where Aldrich gets their chemicals and how much they charge–there is no way they can make everything they sell. For some products they buy in bulk and repackage for lab supply. I know this because if you find Aldrich is out of something or it is backordered, oftentimes everyone else is also out or backordered, unless you can track the chemical back to the original supplier.Aldrich charges what the market will bear. I find that their online price is almost always higher than their catalog price. Aldrich has a complex system of tracking sales in place. This is especially true for custom chemicals, but also holds for their lab chemicals. If they have 100 bottles of one chemical and they sell a bunch (say 50 or more bottles, I don’t know what the set point is), they raise the price on the rest of the bottles. They keep raising the price until the chemical does not sell or sales slow too much. That price is then what the market will bear.

    How do I know this? I interviewed at Aldrich some time ago and was asked how I thought they set prices, taking the cost of the bulk product in mind. I replied that their bottled prices were probably ten times bulk. That was the wrong answer. They set the price at what the market will bear. That could be 2 times, 100 times or 1000 times what the bulk price of the chemical is.

    The academics out there should keep this in mind if you are going to be in industry some day. Profit is good. More profit is better.

  21. Chuckie Hydride Says:
    January 4th, 2007 at 9:12 pm Following up on Jan’s note on c hemexper, I like emolecules.com as a fairly comprehensive online catalog. Sigma/Aldrich, Acros, and many other vendors are included (but not Strem yet.)
  22. European Chemist Says:
    January 5th, 2007 at 6:48 am In our lab we can’t afford to just buy everything from Aldrich, so we have to do an extensive search of many, many suppliers and finally decide on the best compromise. That said, often Lancaster and Alfa Aesar or ABCR have greatly reduced prices but their shipping costs simply overweight the difference.Anyway, the quality of chemicals from Aldrich is quite reasonable. Our department has negotiated a reduction with them and they come round quite often to showcase their new stuff – providing the usual drinks and food to atract students, since no grad student will come to an Aldrich presentation unless there’s comida involved! heheFinally, I’ve met Dr. Michael Strem in a couple of meeting years ago and must say that he really is a very kind man. The sort you’d like to have as some distant grandparent, not least because maybe he’d give you some free chemicals! He even offered to be my referee in my post-doc applications to the US!….
  23. mike Says:
    January 20th, 2007 at 7:12 am Although that’s a rather random question in the middle of a vendor discussion:

    Hi all, can anyone tell me what’s the password to get view the archives of Tenderbutton.com?

    User: tender, password: button – easy, right?

  24. Organic Chemistry Says:
    January 25th, 2007 at 10:53 pm I don’t ahve one, sorry
  25. Dave Says:
    March 22nd, 2007 at 4:14 pm Aldrich is a great source but, in my opinion, the catalog has been going downhill for a few years now. I use the Alfa Aesar catalog a lot and it seems to be getting better and better- more references and a growing selection of products. The delivery has been reliable and I have had no problem with the quality. The price is usually competitive but you have to do a product by product comparison. Strem has a nice but very limited product range and a relatively small catalog. I have met Dr. Strem and he is a good guy.


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