HOWTO make aerogel is devoted to making open versions of aerogel, the super-strong, super-light new material. They provide recipes for several sorts of aerogel, testing protocols, and projects you can undertake with your homebrew miracle substances.


Propylene oxide is a known carcinogen (exposure can cause cancer), and epichlorohydrin is probably too. If you plan on doing this procedure, take the proper precautions to prevent your exposure to the vapors of these substances by using a fume hood in lab, if possible, or at the very least a fitted respirator (gas mask) with the right organics cartridges and a well-ventilated space, on top of the usual splash goggles, gloves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes.

Look under Explore > Information About Chemicals to see where you can find health and safety information about these and other chemicals.

If you can’t use these substances safely, don’t use them until you can! » Make (via Make)

(Image: A silica aerogel puck Rayleigh scatters light from a laser pointer like smoke.)


  1. I want to say something but it keeps coming out all concern trolly. Hmmm.

    A fume hood will protect you, yes, but mind where you’re venting it, the environment is out there.

    1. Don’t fume hoods also have carbon or other filters in them that pull the noxious gasses out? A hood with just a fan ducting to outside isn’t, I suppose, what they’re talking about.

      1. They don’t. Filters for these sorts of chemicals (an organochloride epoxide and epoxypropane) (both rather quite very reactive) are added in-line at a significant expense and require regular maintenance. Carbon filters are a first step in adequately abating the hazard.

        The directions in the article are entirely appropriate for personal protection, however, I have neighbors, they would deserve to know if I had any quantity more than about a pint of each of these. These sorts of activities are awesome! and are exactly why zoning laws exist.

    2. My view is that if you can’t say something without coming out concern trolly there might actually be legitimate concerns.

      In this case, if it requires a fume hood to protect you it’s a) dangerous and b) not to be vented towards your neighbours.

  2. I’m sure getting the chemicals to make aerogel will get you on a government list quicker than you can say cupcake in a jar.

    1. I ignite and inhale my carcinogens directly into my lungs. My boss gives me ten minute breaks to do it!

      Concern trolls go back to your bridges.

  3. Is it me, or does the link to the aerogel site not work?  It shows up in google, but wants me to install wordpress, as admin?

  4. It appears to be a new instance of WordPress. Goes straight to the new site setup page. Only a matter of time before someone sets it up as a site of their own just for fun. They’ll have to drop the database tables and start over.

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong, but for the image caption, shouldn’t it be Mie scattering? My understanding is that Rayleigh scattering explains the blue hue as the relatively small air molecules (compared to the light’s wavelength) within the gel scatter the ambient light, whereas the larger silica molecules are scattering the laser light vie Mie scattering.

    1. Actually I recently saw an advert for industrial aerogel insulation, for plant pipe lagging etc. Apparently it’s also being looked at as a platform for catalysts, given its high surface area.

      I’m not sure how the average individual can get hold of PO. They’ve been using that and EO in the lab at work recently, lovely stuff.

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