This is often the greatest chalange of a carbide caver. Calcium carbide is dangerous when wet, and is therefore restricted as a hazardous material. This makes it difficult to find a courier that will ship calcium carbide. Furthermore, when a courier is found, they are often very expensive because of the hazardous material fees.
Despite these problems there are three dealers that sell calcium carbide: Inner Mountain Outfitters, Karst Sports, and Rocksports Emporium. You can find both Inner Mountain Outfitters and Rocksports Emporium at different caving conventions, and it may be possible to buy calcium carbide from them face to face. However, you may choose to buy in bulk and pay the hazmat fees for shipping.
Also, you may be able to find carbide for sale in your area from dealers who are not caving related. Occasionally one finds it in military surplus stores and hardware stores. However, you may have to use some creativity in how you ask for it. Often, carbide is used to exterminate moles, and the store attendant can help you locate it as such. How one uses carbide to kill moles is left to the imagination. If this fails, attempt to locate a welding supply store. Some of them may still carry calcium carbide for acetylene welding torches.
Regardless of the dealer from whom you buy it, you will probably want to take note of the grade of carbide you buy. The grade of the carbide is the size of the nuggets. Most cavers prefer either nut grade or miners grade carbide. Smaller grades tend to be used more quickly.
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