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Tritium Buying Guide

How to get your hands on some tritium?

This guide will provide resources and what to look for when purchasing tritium. With the shipping disruptions of 2020, prices are all out of wack and should normalize. Note: This guide will not cover the legal aspect as each country has its own laws and regulations.

To learn more about the luminosity and spectral intensity of tritium vials, read my post here: True Brightness of Tritium Vials 

Tritium Safety

Isotopes should be treated with respect, not only for the safety of yourself but also for the safety of others. The average amount of tritium inside a tritium vial has been observed as such:
  • 3mm x 22.5mm tritium vial is roughly 0.1 curies (3.7 GBq)
  • 5mm x 150mm tritium vial is approximately 1.8 curies (66.6 GBq)

Is That Dangerous?

It would be inappropriate to say anything other than 'Yes'; however, the risk is highly negligible. The EPA touches on how tritium can enter and be processed through your body. Tritium is a low-energy Beta particle emitter. Beta particles of this energy don't travel more than a few centimeters through the air. They can't pass through most materials, including the skin. Be aware that via Bremsstrahlung, x-rays are emitted, however extremely infrequently considering the abovementioned volumes.

What do I do if a tritium vial breaks?

Considering the risk level, clearing the space and allowing the gas to diffuse is all that is required. Tritium is as light as hydrogen and will rise upward very quickly. As with all isotopes, conduct thorough research before purchasing to understand best handling practices, including disposal. 

Take Amazing Photos of Tritium:

Where can I buy tritium?

15 years ago, it felt like smuggling; nowadays, a single google search will return a reasonably reliable source. I have some particular sources that I will share here. First things first:

Do you trust your seller?

The nature of buying tritium sometimes feels like a back alley sort of arrangement. Makes you question the legality sometimes. Reminder, check your local laws. Tritium can be purchased from some online shops and historically questionable sources; in both cases, you have a good chance of getting what you ask. In the >100 purchases I have made in my life, only once was I scammed.

Is the price reasonable? 

Be very careful here; many sellers are looking to take advantage of uneducated tritium buyers. In 2020, global conditions did induce a spike in tritium price. However, that has begun normalizing across the industry. When writing this, my purchasing threshold aligns nicely with my favorite vendor. All sizes below are in mm, and prices are in USD and my opinion as of 2021:
  • 3x25 vial, $20-$22 each
  • 1.2x5 vial, $11-$12 each
  • 3x15 vial, $16-$17 each
  • 0.95x3 vial, $8-$9 each
Prices are agnostic of color! Based on the above ranges, use these to extrapolate various vial sizes. The vial price is not linear; it is more logarithmic by volume and emission surface area. Demand plays a small role in the price of vial type too.

As for the mega vials (6mmx100mm+) Buying, there are more practical options than single vials if you seek green and bulk buying. Below I will show some alternate techniques. Check your local laws to see if this is allowed in your region.

Are these shipping times standard?

Yes, it is typical for the purchase of tritium to come from faraway lands. Two weeks to two months can be expected in many cases. Yes, it is faster to get tritium to the moon than from China. 🤣

What are Alternate Names for Tritium Vials?

Tritium Vials can also be referred to by brand name or product implementation. Here are some excellent key search words:
  • Tritium Vial, Tritium Arc, Tritium Sphere, Tritium Tube, Tritium Lamp
  • Betalight (brand)
  • Gaseous Tritium Light Source (GTLS)
  • Self-Luminous Tritium Light Tube
  • Gardner (Brand)
  • Bug (in the fishing scene)
  • Korda Stow Lite (Brand)
  • Cygnet Isolite Isotope (Brand)
  • Isotope (in the fishing scene)
In tritium communities, they are commonly referred to as "Trits."

Why do the images not match the product I received in brightness?

Tritium finds itself best presented under long-exposure photos. Most photos online of tritium vials do not accurately portray the actual brightness of the vial.
See that tiny white one next to the red vial? To the visible eye, in total darkness, it is nearly dark. My camera picked up on some glow.

I have a blog post strictly on the luminosity and spectral intensity of tritium vials here

How to take Amazing Tritium Photos:

Who are the sellers?

My preferred retailers for natural tritium vials and reasoning are:

    • Daniel is excellent, passionate about his work, and very trustworthy. He does everything he can to maintain wide inexpensive, and effective shipping channels. 
    • If you purchase from Daniel, you will receive a high-quality NEW tritium vial(s). Daniel has a good relationship with the backend suppliers, so much so that they often refer you back to mixglo if you email them.

    • Bart (B@rt) from Candle Power Forums was my first purchase, and I was delighted. Bart is another one who has dedicated his life to selling tritium and done so ENTIRELY in a forum. Sketch? I thought so at first 15 years ago. Just read the forum. Hundreds... thousands of happy people. Just shoot him a Paypal and what you want.  
    • B@rt also made me my Tritium Cube. One of the first of its kind. I don't think he makes them anymore. If you ask.

    • Say what you want; there is always tritium available here. I have made many tritium purchases from eBay, all as expected. 
    • CAUTION: I have in the past received 'old' tritium vials. Important to recognize that and call out the seller. Good practice to ask the seller in advance if the tritium is 'New.'
    • MORE CAUTION: Many sellers retail "tritium alternatives," most commonly strontium nitrate. They will list their product as a typical tritium vial size and label it as "not tritium" or "not radioactive." They use these keywords in their post to gain your attention. They also make "high brightness" claims. Read the description and ask questions if you are not 100% sure the product is tritium.

    • Need bulk? This may be the easiest way to buy volume unless you have a relationship with the supplier.
    • Some sellers have a minimum purchase of 1 piece, others 100 pieces.
    • Rare to find tritium vials here. Every now and then, they pop up.

Random places online:

There are many available accessories in the market; recently, I partnered with TEC Accessories, where you can find a unique collection of fobs to install your fresh new tritium vials. Like most retailers in the US, they don't retail tritium and instead encourage you to do your research.

Stay away from Wish!!!

Watch out for...

  • Unbelievable Prices: Tritium retailers are aware of what they have and know the value. You won't find a "Black Friday" or "Cyber Monday" deal on tritium. If you do, proceed with caution. 
  • Tritium Included/not Included: When buying tritium, understand when you may be purchasing a vail holder "lantern," "cage," etc... and if that holder comes with tritium. If it seems too good to be true, then it is. Most sellers will specify if the product will come with tritium. Some need to define, be sure to ask the seller.
  • Buzzword Polluted Search Results: Words like "Ultra Bright," "Glass luminous tube," and "Noctilucence" do not directly call out that the product is a self-luminous tritium vial. Sellers know how the search systems work on these retail sites and where and how frequently to drop these buzz keywords (n-grams).
  • Misleading Product Listing: Photos of elegant complete tritium products such as 6-sided tritium dice (die) with 21 vials and an exciting price for the entire 6-sided dice (die) only to be purchasing a single vial.
  • Aged Tritium: At the time of writing this, still a problem. Sellers are selling aged tritium vials at 'new' prices. They are sometimes upfront about the agent and bury the truth in the listing. Ask questions of the seller, and get it in writing. I have observed sellers dismantling aged tritium solutions and reselling the solo vials.

The Big Green Vials,

If you only need one, sure, pick one up from eBay. If you are interested in the most glow for your buck? Maybe consider searching on eBay, "Tritium Exit Sign."

Are Tritium Spheres Still Made?

As of writing this late 2021, Yes! I have spoken with a supplier directly. This supplier does still make tritium spheres and sells them quite often. However, they are challenging to get into the hobbyist and collector scene. Why? The volume of a tritium sphere is much greater than all other familiar shapes. It very quickly requires the reseller to acquire additional licensing for radioactive materials possession. These licenses are very expective to maintain; they need many dependencies to be fulfilled and renewed. Spheres are going to always be a taboo point for the collector scene.

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More Tritium Photos/Videos:

Can you buy tritium?
Best place to purchase tritium vials?
Brightest tritium vial?
3mm tritium vial?
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Tritium vials for sale?
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Where to buy tritium vials?
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Large tritium vial?

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