About Us

What happened to 'Home Training Tools'?

We chose the name Home Training Tools when the company was founded in 1994, thinking that we might later expand our product lines to include other subjects, such as math.

Since then, we have been been totally committed to helping you provide the best science education for your children. We are confident that the name Home Science Tools reflects that commitment much better than the old name did! We continue to provide the same high quality products, affordable prices, prompt delivery, and excellent customer service. Our website continues to provide the same great science information services, plus some new ones, like a Science Projects section with hands-on ideas and a more user-friendly shopping cart for your convenience.

Do you have a retail location?

We are open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mountain Time, except on holidays.


Can I get catalogs for my local homeschool support group or homeschool conference?

Yes! We would be delighted to send 20 or more catalogs for you to share with your homeschool support group. Just email us at service@homesciencetools.com with how many catalogs you'd like and where we should send them.

If you're organizing a homeschool conference, please feel free to email or call us with information about including our catalogs in your convention literature bags.


Will you sell my e-mail, mail, or phone information? 

We never sell your information. It is only used to send orders and catalogs and to contact you about your orders. We use your e-mail to send you our newsletter, from which you may unsubscribe at any time. See our full privacy policy for more information on how we protect the personal information you share with us. 

Experiments & Projects

What can I use to compare sugar levels in different types of food?

Benedict's Solution and Glucose test strips are two options to test for sugar levels. Or try the complete Chemistry of Food Kit, which contains everything you need to to test for glucose in food.

I am trying to grow crystals for a science fair project. How long do they take to form?

Crystals typically start forming within 1-2 days. They will be microscopic at first, but after 3-4 days you should begin to see small crystals on the string. Crystal formation is finicky and can be affected by a number of variables: temperature, solution concentration, movement of the solution, string thickness, etc.

If you don't see any crystals at all in 10 days,  you should probably  try again. It is critical that you use a supersaturated solution. If you are doing the experiment with sugar, make the solution by adding more sugar than will dissolve in the boiling water. Stir for at least 10 minutes to make sure the maximum amount of sugar has dissolved. Put the solution into your beaker but do not include the undissolved sugar. Try both a thread and a thicker piece of string suspended in the beaker. Make sure you put the beaker where it will not be bumped or disturbed for several days.

If you don't carry a chemical my experiment calls for, can I substitute a chemical that you have?

We can never recommend substituting a chemical unless your experiment specifically mentions a certain chemical as a substitute. If you are unable to find the chemical elsewhere, you may want to skip that particular experiment.

Can I use table salt when my experiment calls for sodium chloride?

Yes. Sodium chloride is the equivalent of table salt.

I am doing experiments with a group. Do the students each need their own material kit?

In most cases, students learn a lot from experiments by working in groups of 2 or 3. For the best hands-on learning, each student should participate in labs. But it is not usually necessary for each student to have all their own materials. If you have a large group of students, consider ordering several kits and dividing the students into smaller groups. With our kit customization option, ordering extra items for our curriculum materials kits is made easy. Simply click the “Customize this Kit” link in the item description and see what lab or chapter each item is used in. 


What is your return policy?

Items in new and unused condition can be returned or exchanged within 90 days of purchase. Some items may not be returned, including hazardous chemicals that have an item name with the prefix UN. Live items may not be returned.

I received a message saying that an item on my order is backordered. Why didn't the website alert me to this?

Occasionally due to large quantity orders or inventory discrepancies, an item may be backordered unexpectedly. We will contact you by email or phone to alert you of status changes. Please ensure your email's spam filters allow our emails to get through so that you don't miss these updates. Keep in mind we are often able to assemble our curriculum material kits and HST exclusive kits by the following business day. If you selected a 3-day, 2-day or next day express order we will contact you by phone as soon as we are made aware of the backorder.

Do I have to pay shipping when I return items?

We can issue you a prepaid UPS return label for a $13 deduction per label sent on your refund amount. Or you can ship items back by the most economical method for you. See our return and exchange policy for more details. If you received an item that was defective or damaged we do not ask you to pay to return it. Please contact us and we will be happy to assist."

How do I order by mail? 

If you prefer to place your Home Science Tools order by mail, please download our Order Form and send it along with your check or money order to: Home Science Tools 665 Carbon St Billings, MT, 59102

I don't need everything in the kit. Can I buy just some of the items?

If you only need some of the items from our curriculum materials kits, you can use the "Customize This Kit" link in the item description of the kit to order individual items. You can also view the Special Order Form of each kit which is linked in the "Contents" tab of the item description on website if you would prefer to print out a copy.

What happens if my order is a gift?

f you're ordering a gift for someone, don't worry about requesting that the receipt be sent to you. We include an itemized packing slip, but not a priced invoice, with all orders. At this time we can only ship to one address, so if you wish to order items for yourself in addition to the gift, you will need to place two orders with your two different shipping addresses.

What is an Order Form, and how do I use it?

Our special Order Forms are designed to help customers who are using a specific science course. Each form is an itemized list of the materials you'll need to complete most of the hands-on activities for your curriculum and grade. It also lists the lab number or page number, so you can look at the experiment and know exactly what you need the products for. You can use the order forms to see what is included in our material kits, (everything marked with an 'x'), or you can use them to pick and choose items according to your needs and budget. Each form lists the Home Science Tools item numbers and prices. The same information is also available on the website, simply click the ""Customize this Kit"" link while in the item description of the kit.

How can I cancel or make changes to my order?

Please contact one of our Customer Service Representatives by phone at (800) 860-6272, by email at service@homesciencetools.com, or by live chat on our website as soon as possible. If you placed the order outside of our normal business hours of 7-6 Mountain time, Monday through Friday, then we will respond to your message when we return to the office.

I have students in several grades. How can I avoid ordering duplicate items when I order your curriculum kits?

Sometimes items in our kits do overlap from grade to grade. To make sure that you are not ordering duplicates, you can use the "Customize This Kit" link in the item description of the kit to order individual items. You can also view the Special Order Form of each kit which is linked in the "Contents" tab of the website if you would prefer to print out a copy.

Do you offer gift wrap?

We do not offer gift wrapping services at this time. Items you order are shipped in a brown box with the Home Science Tools logo on the side. A packing list with item and quantity information, but not pricing, will be included in the box when the order is shipped.

What is your policy on backordered items?

We work to maintain warehouse inventory so we can ship complete orders within one day of receiving them. However, sometimes certain items may be backordered. In these cases, we will hold orders shipped by Economy, UPS Ground or Postal Service shipping methods for up to seven days. Orders shipped to Canada may be held for up to 14 days. If the backorder is not expected within a week, two weeks for Canadian shipping, or if you chose 3-day, 2-day or next-day shipping, all in-stock items are shipped immediately and upon their availability.

Backordered items are shipped separately by the least expensive shipping method. We do not charge a separate shipping fee to ship backordered items by this method. If you need the backordered item to be shipped by express service when it comes in, please place a separate order for that item and choose the appropriate shipping method. The date we expect to receive a backordered item is noted on the product description page on our website. We usually ship backordered items within three weeks.

You may cancel backorders any time up to the shipment date. Your credit card is charged when the items are shipped. If you have any questions, need part of your order shipped sooner, or want to change this order, please call us at 1-800-860-6272 or email us at service@homesciencetools.com, or live chat with us on our website.

How will I know if I placed my order successfully?

When you place your order, you will receive an e-mail confirmation. This will list the products you ordered. A second e-mail is sent when your order is shipped. There are times when your order may have gone through, but you do not receive any e-mail confirmation due to incorrect e-mail address entry or service provider trouble. In this case, please e-mail us at service@homesciencetools.com, call our Customer Service at (800) 860-6272 or live chat with us on the website during office hours and one of our representatives will check on the order for you.

Can I substitute one product for another when I buy one of your material kits?

With our new kit customization feature, adding or removing items from our kits is made easy! Simply click on the "Customize This Kit" link from the item description in the website in qualifying kits and you will be taken to the customization page. From here you can add or remove items and see optional and recommended items that are not included in the pre-built kit. We let you know what lab or chapter each item is used in to help make it easy for you to decide whether you need it or not.

What are my options for ordering from Home Science Tools?

You can order conveniently from our website:

Online Ordering: Order directly from the category or product pages in our online store. As you browse, use the Add to Cart button to add items to your shopping cart. Use the Cart link at the top of the page to view or change the items in your cart. Use the Check Out button within your shopping cart to complete your purchase, or just save your cart to complete later. When you check out, you can either sign in using your account with us or check out as a guest.

Quick Order: Order anything from the Home Science Tools print catalog or our special order forms using our Quick Order feature. Just type in the item number and quantity for each product you wish to order. These items will be entered into your shopping cart where you can see product availability and pricing.

Or place your order by phone, fax, or mail:

By phone: 7 am to 6 pm Mountain time, Monday - Friday Call our toll-free number 1-800-860-6272 from the U.S. or Canada. Our local phone number is 406-256-0990.

By fax: Any time, day or night. Our toll-free fax number is 1-888-860-2344 for calls from the U.S. or Canada. Our local fax number is 406-256-0991.

By mail: Stick on a stamp and send your order to us: Home Science Tools 665 Carbon St Billings, MT 59102 You can print a copy of our Order Form for fax and mail orders.


What payment methods do you accept?

For your shopping convenience we accept credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express through our secure checkout.

We also accept all PayPal payment methods if you prefer the privacy and flexibility of PayPal checkout.

Can I establish credit and be invoiced for my orders?

Home Science Tools is happy to provide open credit accounts to schools, universities, and educational non-profit organizations. Unfortunately, this means we do not extend credit to businesses. Home Science Tools accepts checks, money orders, major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express) and PayPal (bank accounts, credit cards, Bill Me Later) as payment for goods from all of our other customers.

Apply for credit and learn more about purchase orders here.

If you qualify for an open credit account, fax us your school purchase order (many teachers include a printout of their cart with the school PO to simplify this step). Our fax number is 888-860-2344. We process orders within 1-2 business days and ship the same day processed in almost all cases. If we have any questions, we will call you. It's that simple. If you have any questions or concerns, call us toll free at 800-860-6272 or email service@hometrainingtools.com. We will be happy to assist you.

Can I use my gift certificate on your website?

Paper gift certificates, from our previous website, may only be redeemed by calling toll-free at 1-800-860-6272. However, e-gift cards are redeemable online, available in denominations between $10 and $500, and, since they're delivered immediately via email, are always shipped free.

Do you accept payment through Paypal?

We do accept Paypal! If you don't want to use a credit card for your order, you now have the option in your shopping cart to check out using PayPal.

Please note that we cannot make changes of any type to a PayPal order, except to cancel it, once it is submitted. Review your items and shipping address carefully before pressing the Finalize Order button.

Is my credit card number safe?

Yes, it is. Our web site uses SSL technology which is a web standard for creating a secure link to protect your credit card information.   In addition, we follow the strict guidelines for credit card security set forth by the major credit card companies in their PCI-DSS compliance standards. For more information, read our Security Policy.

Can I use a gift card on your website?

We are not able to accept prepaid gift cards as payment unless they have an associated billing address.

Do you take checks or money orders?

If you would like to mail your order to us, we do accept either checks or money orders as payment. Feel free to print out this Order Form and mail it to us with the appropriate information filled out. With this order form you can included either a check or money order for the total of merchandise and shipping.

Will there be any tax on my orders?

Since our company is based in Montana, where there is no sales tax, we do not charge sales tax on any orders. If you need a W-9 form please contact us and we would be happy to send you one.

Purchase Order Information

Thousands of schools and organizations submit purchase orders with Home Science Tools each year for their science supplies, equipment, and microscopes.

Purchase orders can be submitted by:
Fax: 888-860-2344
Email: service@homesciencetools.com
Mail: 665 Carbon St, Billings, MT, 59102

Also, we now offer online purchase order options! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. W-9 forms are available on request. Because we are in Montana, a state with no sales tax, there will be no tax on any orders.

Is my credit card charged at the time I place my order?

Your credit card is charged when your items actually ship. If you have items held on backorder then you will be charged for those items when they ship, which may be a different day than when in-stock items are shipped.


How can I take advantage of a product warranty?

Home Science Tools warrants our instrument against defects in materials and workmanship for the warranty period from the date of purchase. The warranty period is as follows:
Home Science Tools brand microscopes – lifetime

Home Science Tools brand kids microscopes – 5 years

Mechanical balances – 5 years

Digital scales – 5 years
Microscope digital cameras –1 year
Van de Graaff generators – 1 year
Other Home Science Tools Branded products – 1 year
Home Science Tools microscopes sold prior to July 1, 2009 had a five-year warranty.

If you believe you received a defective item please contact us and we will be happy to assist. We are available between 7-6 Mountain time by phone at 800-860-6272, by email at service@homesciencetools.com, or by live chat on our website.

Other items may have a warranty from the manufacturer. Please see the documentation that came with the item, or you can contact Home Science Tools for the manufacturer's information.

Product Info


What do the code colors on my chemical labels mean, and how do I store the chemicals?

Each of the chemicals we sell has a storage code on its label. The red storage code means that the chemical is flammable and must only be stored with other flammable chemicals. White signifies corrosives, which must only be stored with other corrosive chemicals. Blue (toxins) and yellow (reactants) can be stored together. These need to be stored away from flammables and corrosives. Note that code blue chemicals are toxic if inhaled or absorbed into skin. Green signifies general storage, meaning that these chemicals can be stored with any other.

The good way to store chemicals in the home is to get three appropriate-sized heavy-duty plastic bins with lids (Rubbermaid containers work well for example) and store your chemicals in them according to the groupings listed above.

Keep them on a shelf out of reach of young children. Although our chemicals are packaged for extended storage, leakage can occur for a variety of reasons. The bins will contain any leakage if it occurs and prevent dissimilar chemicals from reacting with each other. The three bins can be stored next to each other on a shelf providing the lids fit securely on each bin.

You already have chemicals like these stored in and around your home, usually in quantities much larger than the containers we supply. Some common flammable (red) chemicals are nail polish remover and rubbing alcohol. Bleach, drain cleaner, and oven cleaner are common corrosives (white). Toxins (blue) found in most homes include insecticides and weed killer. A common reactant (yellow) is hydrogen peroxide.

Please see our Chemical Safety Teaching Tip for other important information about using chemicals.

How do I dispose of chemicals when I'm done using them?

Every local government has different regulations regarding the disposal of hazardous chemicals. Please call your local Poison Control Center or Waste Disposal Department for instructions applicable to your location.

Do you have any restrictions on selling chemicals?

The chemicals we sell are harmful if misused. When you order them you are verifying that you are at least 21 years of age, that you understand the hazards associated with these items, and that you are assuming all responsibility for any injuries or damages resulting from the storage, use, and disposal of these items.

Is it possible to purchase chemicals in bulk amounts from you?

We do not sell chemicals in large amounts; the only package sizes we offer are those listed in our catalog and on this website. There are some companies who provide chemicals in bulk amounts for public schools; you can try a search for these online.

What does 24/29 mean?

24/29 is the measurement of the connections of ground glass labware. The smallest end of the taper is 24mm, the largest is 29mm. This is an industry-wide sizing and all 24/29 connections will fit together, regardless of where they have been purchased. Some advantages of ground glass labware include having an all-glass containment system so there are no additional connecting pieces that could possibly react with solutions, and that a vacuum can be created and held within that environment. Use vacuum grease to lubricate and seal ground glass connections.


Is it possible to use the 2nd edition Apologia text with the 1st edition test and solutions manual?

Even though there have been very few changes in content between the two editions, we do not recommended this. The first edition solutions manual will not correlate with the second edition textbook.

Curriculum What are some of the science course options for the grade I'm teaching?

Please see the following page in our learning center for helpful reviews, summaries, and information on choosing a homeschool science curriculum.

Choosing a Science Curriculum

Do you have kits for the Bob Jones Distance Learning science?

Sometimes curriculum publishers come out with special curriculum programs that are not identical to their main curriculum. We usually design our science kits to be compatible with the main curriculum, so sometimes our kits won't match the activities in the special curriculum.

Our Bob Jones science kits were designed to match the activities in the Bob Jones text curriculum, not those in the Bob Jones Distance Learning program. However, we do have order forms specifically for the Distance Learning high school courses. These list the lab materials you'll need, along with our item numbers, so you can order easily.

My Bob Jones chemistry lab calls for a chemical that's not in my kit or the special order form.

The kit and special order form we provide for the Bob Jones Chemistry course are for the 'Home School and Small Christian School' edition of the lab manual. It looks like you ordered items off the special order form we provide for this edition of the lab manual but you are using the 'Christian Schools' edition of the lab manual. This is a much more rigorous manual that uses many more chemicals and pieces of equipment.

We do have the chemicals and equipment needed for this edition of the lab manual in our catalog and on our website but we do not offer a special order form or kit that supports it. If you plan to use this lab manual, you will need to spend the time going through the teacher's lab manual to determine what you need and then order those items individually.

In the Apologia full course CD-ROM, how do I keep my child from looking at test answers?

The Module Reviews, Tests, and Answers are on a separate password-protected CD (included in the package) for the parent. To give a test to your student, you'll need to print out a hard copy.

Why don't you have a science kit for the Switched-on Schoolhouse 7th grade?

The Switched-on Schoolhouse curriculum for seventh grade does not have activities that require lab materials, so we do not provide a science kit for this course. However, we do supply a list of optional items that can be used to supplement the curriculum in order to enhance your child's learning experience. Please see our special Switched-on Schoolhouse 7 Order Form for details.

Is your MicroChem Kit the same as the one recommended in the Apologia Chemistry?

Yes; the MicroChem Kit is the one Dr. Wile recommends as a supplement if you desire to do experiments in addition to those in the textbook. We offer a science kit (AM-KTCHEM ) designed specifically to go with the Apologia chemistry course, which will have the items you need to complete the experiments in the textbook.

Real Science 4 Kids & R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Comparison Chart

The Real Science 4 Kids curriculum and R.E.A.L Science Odyssey curriculum are both excellent choices for giving your elementary kids a solid science foundation. With similar names — and great content in both — it can be hard to make a choice between them. Here's a quick overview of the similarities and differences between them to help you pick the one that's best for your family.

Curriculum: Real Science 4 Kids R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey
Uses Scientific Method & Science Vocabulary? Yes Yes
Time to Complete: 10-14 weeks per course Full school year per course
Hands-on Labs? Yes — 1 per lesson Yes — 2-3 per lesson
Textbook Style: Colorful illustrations, kid-friendly Designed for parent to teach child with
Other Differences: More reading oriented. Individual student & teacher books More activity oriented. All-in-one course book with reproducible pages

Do your curriculum kits have everything I will need for the year?

Our kits include the harder to find items. We sometimes exclude larger items, like microscopes, or items that require scheduling, like live items, due to cost. You can view the "Customize This Kit" page or the Special Order Form in the description of each kit on the website to see items that we do not include in the pre-made kit. We do not include common household items.

Do you sell any curriculum that is not written from a creationist worldview?

Most of the science curriculum we support and sell is written from a Christian, creationist view. However we do offer worldview-neutral curriculum that supports Christian and secular values: Focus ON | Real Science 4 Kids and R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey. If you are looking for something else, we suggest the Calvert curriculum or OdysseyWare (which offers 'character-based' curriculum).

I have an older version of my textbook. Will your material kits still work with it?

The materials kits that we supply are updated to the latest edition of each curriculum. For the most part newer edition kits are not compatible with previous curriculum. We do not stock kits for older editions, however we have Special Order Forms for previous editions of kits that you can use to reference and order individual items from. Contact us and we would be happy to send you one. 1600

Do you have electronic versions of your order forms for curriculum?

With our new kit customization feature, adding or removing items from our kits is made easy! Simply click on the "Customize This Kit" link from the item description in the website in qualifying kits and you will be taken to the customization page. From here you can add or remove items and see optional and recommended items that are not included in the pre-built kit. We let you know what lab or chapter each item is used in to help make it easy for you to decide whether you need it or not.


Do you guarantee your specimens?

In sealed, original packaging, our preserved specimens are guaranteed to remain fully preserved and free of decay for six months from the date of purchase.

Once the original package is opened, use specimen within one month. For best results, observe the following storage procedures:

  • Store specimen in heavy-duty, zip-lock bags to minimize drying between dissections.
  • Specimen will slowly dry out or become contaminated in zip-lock bags; add a teaspoon of Specimen Holding Fluid to retain moisture.
  • Freezing or refrigeration is not necessary and may damage fragile tissues.

Occasionally we do get specimens that look normal when we receive them from our supplier, but for one reason or another the internal tissue is not preserved. These specimens can decompose over time and become unusable. If you do get a specimen like this, or suspect that your specimen isn't right, please call us immediately at (800) 860-6272. We will be happy to send you a replacement or refund you for the cost of the specimens.

How should I store my dissection specimens? Do they need to be refrigerated?

Our preserved specimens do not need to be refrigerated. They are well-preserved and will not decay. Keep them in a sealed plastic bag to prevent drying out. Though they are preserved indefinitely, we recommend using them within six months for best tissue quality. Sometimes specimens will discolor over time. This is normal and does not indicate decay.

What does the term 'injected' mean in reference to your dissection specimens?

The specimens described as 'double injected' have red latex injected into the arteries and blue latex injected into the veins for easy detection and identification. 'Single injected' specimens have one color of latex injected into all blood vessels.

I got my order and my specimens are leaking! What do I do?

If you will be using the specimens within a month you can re-seal the specimens in a ziploc bag or other tightly closed plastic bag. You can add a little water, glycerin or a holding fluid if the liquid has completely drained away. We include a few tablespoons of fluid in the specimen bags to keep them moist. They are fully preserved and it is not necessary for them to be submersed in a fluid. The bags are not vacuum packed and it is normal to have some air in the bags.

If you will not be dissecting your specimens within a month or if the fluid has leaked onto other items that cannot be wiped off, please contact us by phone at 800-860-6272, by email at service@homesciencetools.com, or by live chat on our website and we will be happy to make it right.

Why can't I add this specimen to my cart?

Home Science Tools is committed to providing dissection specimens to our customers consistently and affordably. There are times that our access to reliable sources for dissections specimens will be affected by unforeseen issues. When specimens aren’t able to be reliably sourced in a reasonable amount of time we may need to limit the ability to order this item on our website until we can resolve the issue. Please contact one our knowledgeable, friendly customer service representatives regarding future availability if a specimen you need is not available.

I opened the sealed bag with my specimens in it, but I'm not done using them. What do I do?

Once you open the original specimen bag we recommend dissecting the specimen within one month for optimum results. They can be re-sealed in a ziploc or other tightly closed plastic bag. You can add some holding fluid, water, or glycerin in the bag to keep the specimens moist.

How to store vacuum packed specimens sold in large quantities

We sell our quantity-discount specimens in a 10-pack, as that is how we are able to offer the lower price. Therefore, if you order 14 cow eyes, you'll get a vacuum pack of 10, plus four individually packaged ones. When kept in their original bags we guarantee the specimens for six months. Once the bags are opened we recommend using them within one month for best results. They can be re-sealed in a ziploc or other tightly closed plastic bag. You can add some holding fluid, like our item #CH-HOLDFLD, or water or glycerin in the bag to keep the specimens moist.

Life Science & Biology

What is the difference between the insect display cases with batting and those with foam board?

Display boxes with batting are much shallower and the insects are simply set onto the batting and held against the glass. A display box with foam board, however, is deeper and the insects are pinned into the board.

Our Riker display cases have batting and Exhibit cases have foam board.

Will turning eggs damage them?

Fertile eggs are extremely delicate and can be easily ruined. A perfectly good egg may not hatch if it is turned wrong end up or if the egg is shaken. However, an important step in hatching is to turn the eggs. To keep the egg's yolk in place, a mother chicken frequently reaches underneath her body and turns her eggs with her beak. This is because the yolk tends to float toward the shell. If the egg lies too long in one position, the white separates and allows the yolk to break through, pressing the embryo against the shell and killing it. By changing the position of the eggs, the mother avoids this.

When hatching your eggs you will need to carefully follow the incubating instructions for your type of egg, so that the eggs are turned properly.  For additional information, see our Incubator Science Lesson.

Which type and size of insect pins do I need?

If you want just one insect pin size for general collecting, we recommend size 2 pins. However, if you are more serious about entomology, you might want to order several sizes to get the best results when pinning your collection.

Here are some general guidelines for which size of pins to order:

Size 0 - for small insects (less than 0.5' body size) and butterflies with very light bodies.

Size 2 - for small to medium insects (0.5-1.5' body size) and general purpose pinning.

Size 4 - for medium insects (1-2' body size).

Size 6 - for large insects and beetles (2' or larger body size).

We carry three different types of pins:

For beginners or for students putting together a collection as a project, we recommend the inexpensive Home Science Tools pins, made in China of stainless steel with nylon heads. These are a good-quality pin that will not rust even in humid climates.

For professional or experienced amateur use, we recommend better-quality black enamel pins. These pins are made in the Czech Republic and are of the same European quality that has been consistently preferred by professional entomologists around the world.

For those who want the highest quality, we recommend Bohemia pins, made out of stainless steel. Also made in the Czech Republic, these pins are of fine European quality and they will not rust even in humid climates.

To pin an insect, firmly poke the pin through the upper mid-right of the back of the thorax.

What is an 'LD' item?

'LD' specifies that an item is a live drop. Our supplier sends the living material (such as pill bugs) directly to you. You must specify a delivery date (Wednesday through Friday only) that is at least 7 days later than the day we receive your order. An additional $13 shipping charge applies to each delivery date you specify. These items are shipped in the continental US only. The only two 'LD' items that do not require the delivery date or extra $13 are LD-INCUBAT, the incubator with quail eggs, and LD-QUAILWB8, the 8 quail eggs.

What should we do when our chicks get too big to keep?

The instructions say, 'When your chick gets too big for the house, DO NOT TURN THEM LOOSE. If you do not have the facilities to care for them, give them to a local hatchery, farm, Humane Society, feed or pet dealer.' The incubator will come with complete hatching instructions and information on caring for your chicks when they hatch. For additional information, see our Incubator Science Lesson.

Will my quail eggs stay warm enough while they are in transit?

The quail eggs stay dormant until the incubation process starts. Warmth will not be a issue until you actually start incubating the eggs. For additional information on this topic, see our Incubator Science Lesson.

How long does it take for my butterfly larvae to become butterflies?

The whole process takes approximately 3 weeks. Once you receive your larvae it will take 7-10 days for the caterpillars to change into chrysalides. From there it will take 7-10 days for them to emerge as butterflies. Once they are butterflies you can release them at any time.

If I am buying one of the living material kits as a gift, do I need to redeem the coupon myself?

To redeem  the coupon for any of our  living material kits (such as the Butterfly Garden  or Frog Hatchery Kit), all you need to do is fill out the shipping information and when you would like it to arrive and then send it in. If you give the kit as a gift, the recipients should be able to redeem the coupon themselves.

Are the incubators appropriate for children ages 10-12 years to manage on their own?

We generally do not recommend that younger students work with the incubators unsupervised. Due to the specific and delicate care that the eggs must receive, we recommend adult supervision for the younger through middle grades/ages. A few of the elements that require consistent monitoring are temperature, the turning of the eggs, location of egg incubator as well as others.

Will frogs from the frog hatchery kit live to adulthood?

With proper care, there is a high likelihood that one or more of the frog embryos will grow to adult frogs. African water frog adults live entirely in water and grow to be 2-3' long. Leopard frog adults need both water and a place out of the water. They grow up to 3-4'.

If you no longer wish to raise your frogs, we do not recommend releasing frogs into the wild because they may adversely affect the native amphibian population. Please contact your local Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department to inquire about any local laws regarding release in your area.

However, you may also contact local pet stores or check to see if a school /daycare might appreciate a class pet. You could also advertise on an online classified ad such as Craig's List to see if there are any locals interested in keeping them as a pet.

How big do the quails get, and is it possible to keep them as pets?

Yes, is possible to keep the quails as pets as long as you have an adequate place to keep them. The females generally reach 8-10' tall, while males tend to be smaller at about 6-8'. The instructions included with the incubator will provide you with more information on caring for and raising the baby quails once they have hatched. 

My quail eggs did not hatch. What do I do?

The successful hatching rate for quail eggs in the incubator with four eggs or the pack of eight eggs is typically 25-75%. However, due to many variables beyond our control, successful hatching rates are not guaranteed. If your eggs don't hatch, get replacements sent directly from our supplier by sending a request and $2 for shipping to:

GQF 2343 Louisville Rd.
Savannah, GA. 31415-1619

This replacement policy is only valid if you used our incubator or a commercial quality incubator and you carefully followed all instructions for hatching quail eggs with your incubator each day of the incubation period.


Can I view microscope slides with a stereo (low power) microscope?

Stereo microscopes are best used to view whole objects at low power. For young children it is possible to see some amount of detail on a prepared slide using a stereo microscope, but the low power and lack of fine focus make it insufficient for more advanced studies in life science or biology. For high school it is necessary to have a compound (high power) microscope.

Basic microscope maintenance & troubleshooting tips

How should I clean the optics on my microscope?

Use a spray lens cleaning solution and lens cleaning tissue to keep the optics on your microscope free from smudges. Spray solution on the tissue paper and gently wipe the ends of the objective lenses and eyepiece. You can also use eyeglass cleaner or our complete Microscope Cleaning Kit. Clean microscope slides in the same way. (For plain slides that you want to reuse, you can wash with soap and water.)

What is the black line I see when I look through my microscope eyepiece?

Some of our high-power microscopes come with a built-in pointer so that a person viewing a slide can easily direct someone else where to look for a specific feature. This pointer appears as a black line across half of the field of view. To move the pointer, just turn the top of the eyepiece.

I can't find the serial number on my Advanced microscope. Where is it located?

The serial number is on the stage stop--the small bar between the stage and the arm of the microscope--on the side that faces the stage.

What is a mechanical stage, and will I need it for high school?

A mechanical stage is a helpful tool  that provides precise slide movement, allowing you to easily scan your slide and see the whole specimen thoroughly.   While this item is not necessary, it makes slide viewing much easier and will probably give you the best experience using your microscope.

Microscope Slide Quality

All of our microscope slides are professional-quality and are handmade and hand-stained (usually with multiple stains, so you can see different tissue types and cell details more clearly).

In most cases the specimens are arranged on the slide to demonstrate the highest level of tissue or specimen detail without you having to scan the slide. See our paramecium slide for an example - it shows three stages of fission in a single field of view at 100x.

In addition, specimens are hand-selected so that you get only the best representatives, not ones that are missing important parts.

How do I attach the mechanical stage to the microscope?

First, the pair of stage clips must be removed before you can install the mechanical stage. The stage clip screws are torqued in tightly. You will need to use a Phillips screwdriver with a #2 tip to remove them. Be careful to not strip the screw heads.

The mechanical stage attaches to the other three holes (located between the holes for the stage clips) predrilled in the microscope stage. There is only one way the stage will fit these three holes. The two pins on the bottom of the mechanical stage fit into the smaller holes on each side of the threaded center hole. Align the mechanical stage pins with these two holes and seat it firmly against the microscope stage.

Finally, secure the mechanical stage to the microscope stage by tightening the setscrew located in the center of the stage. This setscrew attaches to the threaded third hole in the microscope stage. You need to tighten the setscrew securely to keep the mechanical stage from moving on the microscope stage.

That's really all there is to it! This can be done in less than five minutes.

Which microscope do you most highly recommend?

For most families, our Home Microscope is the best option. We have specifically designed it to meet the needs of homeschools or families who just want a good microscope for their kids. It has a great low price, is easy to use, and has quality optics that produce clear images suitable for high school level work. If you have a limited budget and only want to make one microscope purchase, the Home Microscope is an excellent choice.

What is the difference between a low power and a high power microscope?

High power or compound microscopes are designed for viewing microscope slides containing cells and other microscopic specimens. Low power stereo microscopes are built for examining whole objects such as bugs, flowers, shells, etc. Very few curricula will call for a low power microscope, while almost all life science and biology studies require a high power microscope. Low power microscopes, however, are often very helpful for young children to examine the world around them.

Please read our How to Select a Microscope article for more information about individual microscopes.

Do you have a compound microscope with magnification higher than 1000x?

No, we do not sell any microscopes with a magnification above 1000x. The maximum resolving power of a compound light microscope limits magnification to about 1500x. However, the optical quality and specialized illumination system required to produce reasonable resolution above 1000x is available only in the highest quality compound microscopes with prices starting above $2000. While some manufacturers of less expensive microscopes will provide 15x or 16x eyepieces with their microscope and claim 1500x or 1600x magnification, the resolution is inadequate at these magnifications. All of our microscopes are designed for educational or laboratory work with good resolution at a maximum magnification of 1000x. We do not sell higher magnification eyepieces to push our microscopes beyond the intent of design and function.

Why don't you sell any microscopes that are not made in China?

Our microscopes are all made in China. Virtually all educational microscopes we know of are made in China or India because of the low cost of labor. In one or two cases the parts are made in China and the microscopes are assembled in the US or another country. The Indian microscopes are usually of inferior quality.

The National Optical and Home Science Tools microscopes we carry are made in factories in China that US companies have worked closely with for many years. These modern factories follow good labor practices and provide crucial employment and livelihood for hundreds of Chinese people, including Chinese Christians. There is no prison labor in free factories like these.

Boycotting Chinese products is promoted by some groups in order to pressure the Chinese government to correct human rights abuses, especially using prison labor in factories. Unfortunately, this type of boycott is ineffective and unjust to the people of China. The Chinese people, including the millions of Chinese Christians, are the ones that suffer when products are boycotted and factories cut back or are closed. A US product boycott by itself will never put enough pressure on the Chinese government to change their human rights abuses because the global market for Chinese products is so huge. All it does is hurt individual families who may lose or never get employment. Sustained economic growth in China is a good thing for expanding the gospel and obtaining additional freedom for our Chinese brothers.

What do the abbreviations on your microscope slides mean?

The abbreviations after the name of the slide indicate the type of mount.

w.m. stands for "whole mount," meaning that the entire specimen was placed on the slide.  

c.s. stands for "cross section," meaning that a small cross section of the specimen was sliced off and placed on the slide.

l.s. stands for "longitudinal section," meaning that the specimen was cut lengthwise and placed on the side.

See our selection of microscope prepared slides to find the slides you need!

What is the best stain for kids to look at their cheek epithelial cells under a microscope?

The best stain to use for a squamous epithelium smear is methylene blue, which stains the acidic parts of a cell (like the nucleus) in animal, plant, and blood specimens.

To make your own squamous epithelium slide, you'll need a plain microscope slide, coverslip, toothpick, and methylene blue. Use the toothpick to gently scrape along the inside of your cheek. Smear the collected cells over the middle of the slide and let it air dry, then add a drop of the stain and cover with a coverslip. Scan under low power on your microscope to locate the cells, then observe more closely under high power.

Cleaning and Caring for Microscope Slides

The high-quality prepared microscope slides we offer have been carefully made to give long service. We recommend the following to protect your slide investment:

Never exert pressure on the coverslip. The resins used in attaching the coverslip remain semi-fluid, hardening only at the edge. Vertical pressure can crush the specimen and break the coverslip. Lateral pressure can dislodge the coverslip. Use extreme care in cleaning your slides.

Store slides in a dark, cool place in a horizontal position. Some whole mounts contain specimens so small that the specimens can drift to the edge of the coverslip if stored vertically. Also, slides stored vertically in a warm room can leak resin from beneath the coverslip. The stains used are nearly permanent and demonstrate little fading after 20 years if stored properly. However, slides left exposed to sunlight or excessively hot lights can fade quickly.

Quality prepared microscope slides are expensive items. Treat them with care and they will serve you many years.

To clean your prepared microscope slides use lens cleaning solution (or eyeglass cleaner) and lens cleaning tissue. Simply spray solution on the tissue paper and gently wipe the slides.

To clean plain glass slides, use soap and water.

Why buy a microscope from Home Science Tools?

The microscopes we sell are a great value, combining excellent quality with affordable prices. Frank Schaner, founder and president of Home Science Tools, has decades of experience evaluating microscopes to make sure we provide our customers with the best microscopes for the money. Over the years he has carefully examined dozens of microscope models from competing manufacturers. In the process, he found that the optical quality, mechanical operation, finish, and cleanliness of National Optical microscopes were superior to comparable microscopes with similar specifications.

Frank has also carefully developed specifications with select factories in China for our own Home Science Tools line of microscopes, which, like National Optical models, meet high standards for optical quality and mechanical reliability - yet at lower prices. While it is possible to find cheaper microscopes, we are confident that you won't find a better-quality microscope for your money.

Each of our microscopes meets rigorous quality assurance requirements and three levels of inspection. At the factory each microscope undergoes an internal inspection. Then, before shipment to the US, it is unpacked and checked a second time by an independent inspector. Finally, upon arrival at our warehouse, each microscope is unpacked again and carefully inspected and adjusted by a qualified technician. This level of quality assurance means that your microscope will function perfectly right out of the box.

All of our microscopes are covered by warranty from either Home Science Tools or National Optical, ensuring your microscope will continue to function flawlessly for years to come!

In addition to low prices and great quality, we also provide knowledgeable customer service and extensive online articles and resources to help you enjoy learning with your microscope for many years.

If you are not 100% satisfied with your microscope purchase from us, you're welcome to return it with our 90-day Return Policy!

How long do chemicals and microscope stains last?

The shelf life on chemicals and biological stains is typically several years to indefinitely. Shelf life is dependent on storage conditions so we cannot provide more specific guidance nor can we guarantee shelf life. If you have doubts about a particular chemical or stain, we suggest testing it by performing the critical part of your experiment in advance.

We carry the following biological stains:

Methelyne blue
Eosin Y
Toluidine blue
Crystal violet
Wright's blood stain
Sudan III Iodine
Gram's iodine

Do you ever have used or reconditioned microscopes?

Not usually. 

If you are looking for a less expensive option than buying your own new microscope, we recommend that you check with a local homeschool group or private school. Sometimes they have used microscopes for sale. Also, other homeschoolers might be interested in sharing a microscope (including the costs).

Updated Drivers for Microscope Digital Cameras

We now have a set of updated drivers available for customers who have purchased the MI-DC1300, MI-DC3000 or MI-DC5000 digital cameras. These drivers provide much greater control over white balance and image color and they allow you to correct any 'hot' pixels.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties with your camera, or would like to update your drivers to the most current version, please contact customer service at 1-800-860-6272 or email us at service@homesciencetools.com for further information.

Can I save any money by buying more than one microscope?

Yes! You can save an additional 5% off our already low microscope prices by getting a friend to buy one at the same time.   Buy two or more microscopes at the same time and save 5%.  To receive this discount, microscopes must be on one order, placed at one time, shipped to one address at the same time, and paid  with one payment method.


Triple Beam Balance Troubleshooting

Problem: Balance does not zero, but swings freely up and down

Solution: To zero the balance, slide each weight along the beam to the left, until it fits into the V-notch on the beam at the '0' position. Turn the knurled zero adjustment knob (under the pan) clockwise to move the pointer up and turn it counterclockwise to move the pointer down until the balance is zeroed.

If you have to adjust the knob all the way out and the pointer still doesn't point to the zero mark, then weight needs to be added to calibrate the balance. To do this, unscrew the pan by turning it counterclockwise. Underneath is a small reservoir which holds some adjustment weights. Add small washers (for extra weight) one or two at a time. Reattach the pan and check the balance for zero. Continue this trial-and-error process, adding washers as necessary, until the pointer zeroes.

If the knob is turned all the way in and the pointer still doesn't zero, the weight needs to be reduced. Unscrew the pan and remove one of the small weights from the bottom of the reservoir. Reattach the pan and check the balance for zero. Continue this trial-and-error process, removing weights as necessary, until the pointer zeroes.

Problem: The pointer does not move freely up and down and the pointer does not touch the sides of the dampening system

Solution: Check to see if the pan and beam assembly is positioned correctly on the agate bearings which it rocks on. To do this, remove the four silver metal caps under the pan (two on each side). Do this by pushing upward on each cap--you might need to wedge the tip of a standard screwdriver in at the bottom of the cap and then push it upward. Under each cap is a small steel plate and behind the plate is an agate bearing. It is a small semi-translucent piece with a 'V' notched in it at one end. This is what the balance rocks back and forth on. See if the balance knife-edges (triangular shaped bars) are set in each bearing V-notch. If the agate bearing is broken or missing, it needs to be replaced so that the balance will work properly. Call us to get a replacement. If the bearings are not broken, make sue the V-notch points up and set the knife-edge on the notch. Then replace the plate and caps and zero the balance again.

Problem: The pointer touches the sides of the dampening system, which causes the arm to stick.

Solution: This occurs when the pan and beam assembly is slightly out of adjustment on the balance base. The easiest way to adjust it is to have a helper hold tightly the base of the balance. Then, firmly grasp the two bearing covers located under the pan (one on each side) and nearest the '0' on the beam with the thumb and forefingers of each hand. Being careful to put pressure only on the bearing covers or the Y-shaped yoke underneath them, twist the pan/beam assembly slightly in the direction needed so the pointer no longer rubs on the dampening system. The pointer should now float freely within the dampening system.

If you are unable to move the pan/beam assembly in this way, then you will need to first loosen the lock nut. To do this you need a pair of pliers (needle-nosed pliers work best) or a 7/8' open end wrench. Turn over the balance. You will see a 7/8' hex nut under the set of bearing covers closest to the '0' on the beam. This needs to be loosened and then retightened. Loosen the hex nut by turning it counterclockwise. Then set the balance upright and move the pointer bar until it no longer touches either side of the dampening system. To keep the pointer from moving while you tighten the hex nut, wedge cardboard on either side until the pointer is firmly centered. Then turn the balance upside down again and tighten the hex nut.

Problem: The pan is loose and wobbles

Solution: Unscrew the pan by turning it counterclockwise. Remove the weights from the small reservoir. Under the weights is a screw. This needs to be tightened with a standard screwdriver. Once that is tightened, put back the weights and screw the pan back on. Zero the balance again if necessary.

How do your butane and alcohol burners compare?

Both our butane burner and our alcohol burner are portable and reasonably safe.  The butane burner  burns hotter than the alcohol lamp, so experiments can be done more efficiently.  

For a lamp designed for safest lab use (it's tip-resistant and has a push-button igniter), we recommend getting the portable micro lab burner.

What kind of tubing fits in your rubber stoppers?

The holes in our rubber stoppers are designed to be used with  5 mm glass tubing .  It will be a tight fit, so it may be necessary to use some lubricant when inserting the tubing.

Our rubber and vinyl tubing connect onto the 5 mm glass tubing.

Can I use the burner on my stovetop instead of a bunsen burner or hot plate?

While it is possible to use a stove to heat materials for lab experiments, this is not recommended. Your experiments will be more difficult, as you do not want to put your glass beakers directly on the gas flame or the burner (for electric stoves) - you will need to put them in a pan with some water in the bottom. Instead of an expensive Bunsen burner, we recommend using a low-cost alcohol lamp.

Promos & Pricing

Do you provide any wholesale pricing for companies?

No, at this time we do not offer any wholesale pricing. Some discounts are available for buying large quantities of an item; you'll see these discounts on our product pages and in your shopping cart when you add large quantities of a discounted item.

Do you ever have any specials or sales?

We have special offers going on all the time! The best way to find out about these sales is to sign up for our e-mail newsletter. You can sign up anytime.

Where can I find a Home Science Tools coupon?

Enjoy savings each month when you sign up for our emails. Get an email every month with our current special subscriber offers: discounts, free shipping, and more! This is the best way to be kept up-to-date on Home Science Tools sales. You can also save on all the items in our Sale category —go there now to see what new items are available at a marked-down price!"


What does "drop shipped" mean?

When an item is "drop shipped" it means that it is shipped from a different location than our warehouse in Billings, Montana. The transit time and delivery date will be different than the estimate given during checkout on the website. The transit time and any other shipping and handling fees will be noted in the item's description page on our website.

What are the special shipping regulations for hazardous chemicals?

Chemicals over 100ml or 100g with the 'UN' prefix, such as 'UN-ALCFUEL' are designated hazardous by the US Department of Transportation. These items can only ship via Economy or Ground Service to a street address in the 50 United States. Any item with this restriction will have a note in its item description on the website.


Use How do I write a product review?

To review a product:

  1. Log into your HST account and go to that product page on our website. Use the search box or the menu on the left to find the item you wish to review.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the product page and click Write a Review.
  3. Fill out the form to rate the product with 1-5 stars and share your experience using it.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about a product or order, please call us at (800) 860-6272 or email us at service@homesciencetools.com and we'll be glad to help!
  • Please only rate products that you ordered from us and have used personally. (Reviews of products that you are thinking of purchasing do not qualify for the drawing.)

We value your feedback and so do other shoppers!

What happens if there is a pricing error on your website?

Although we try our best to have an error-free website, we do make occasional errors. We reserve the right to contact you and correct pricing or other errors prior to fulfilling your order.

I set up an account but did not receive a password. How do I get a password?

For security purposes account passwords are provided by email when you initially register with us. If you did not receive a password, it is possible that you made a typographical error while entering your email address. Please go to My Account and request that your account password be sent to you. If your email address is registered with us, your password will be e-mailed to you immediately. If you do not receive an e-mail or get an error message, then your email address is may not be registered with us, or the email address may have been misspelled.  If you don't receive a new password please feel free to contact customer service at (800) 860-6272 during business hours (or chat with us) and we can assist you with verifying the account.

If you only signed up with your e-mail address for e-mail updates, then you will not have a password. You are welcome to register with us using the full sign-up under the same e-mail address or a different one.

I can't sign in to my account. Help!

If you are trying to sign into your account but only return to a blanked-out user name and password screen, check your browser's settings. Most likely you have your privacy settings at 'Block all cookies,' meaning that our website (as well as other commercial sites or e-mail services) will not work properly for you. The temporary 'session cookies' that we use allow us to track your activity only during your visit to our site. All of your personal information will be kept safe as promised in our privacy & security policy.

You can enable the sign in process by lowering your browser settings to 'High' (which will still block most cookies and maintain a good privacy level) or any lower level. If you're using Internet Explorer, adjust your settings using the following steps: click on Tools > Internet Options, choose the Privacy tab, and slide the privacy settings bar down to 'High' or lower. Apply the changes and you should be good to go.

If you do not feel comfortable adjusting your browser's privacy settings, then you are welcome to call in your order at (800) 860-6272 or mail it to our physical address.

I can't get your PDF forms and instructions to open. Help!

If you have problems opening a pdf document, such as our Special Order Forms,  please check your version of Acrobat Reader (open the program, choose Help, and then About Acrobat Reader). Early versions may not work with our site. If you have an old version, we recommend that you download a free copy of the newest version from the Adobe site. If you still have problems, please contact us and we will e-mail, mail, or fax the form you need.

How do I cite articles from Home Science Tools?

If you wish to quote a Home Science Tools article for a school assignment or some other purpose, you are welcome to do so! You will need to include a citation in your bibliography. Here is the format of a typical online citation when the author is not named:

"Article name." Site name. Date Accessed .

An example:

"What is the Scientific Method?" Home Science Tools. Accessed 21 September 2012

I need to change my address. How do I do that online?

To change your address, please go to My Account and then choose the link to manage your shipping addresses. Edit your old address and replace it with the new one. The information will go directly to us and we'll change that address in our database.  If you have any difficulty changing the address in your account give us a call at 1-800-860-6272 or email us and we'll be glad to do it for you.

Where can I find the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for the chemicals you sell?

We  provide all of the SDS for our chemicals on our website. To access this information, look up the particular chemical that you need in our product catalog and look in the "More Information:" box on the Details tab. The last link in the series will be titled  "SDS Information (PDF)".

You will need the Adobe Reader program  to view these files. If you do not currently have this program installed on your system, you can download it free of charge at www.adobe.com.

Why set up an account?

You can set up a user account on homesciencetools.com in just a minute and after that you'll benefit every time you visit our site. Here's a quick look at the advantages of creating an account:

  • Faster Checkout. Why waste time filling out the same information every time you order? When you set up an account, we'll keep your address on file for you.
  • View Order Status. Need to check on an order you just placed? Can't remember what lab equipment you purchased last fall or the gift you gave your niece? With your own account you can review your past orders anytime.

Register Today ... You can register from anywhere in our online store by clicking the My Account button at the top of the page. For the most convenient shopping, be sure to log into your account when you come back!

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All personal information you submit on this site is secure. All financial information submitted is encrypted.

How do I change my e-mail address or password?

To update your email address or password simply log into your online account and follow the prompts from the home screen. You can reset your password from the sign in page. Be sure and check your spam or junk folder if you don’t receive the email for resetting your password. If for any reason you are not able to log into your account or reset your password please don’t hesitate to contact us, we would be happy to assist. You can reach us by phone at 1-800-860-6272, by email at service@homesciencetools.com, or by live chat on our website during office hours.