WEF Discussions — Now on LinkedIn!

WEF is pleased to announce the creation of free LinkedIn groups associated with its technical discussion forum topics. Through these LinkedIn groups, members will be able to view and participate in discussions, as well as communicate with one another via direct messages. Share your experiences and knowledge, ask questions and respond to other discussions as frequently as you like!

You must have a LinkedIn profile to join a LinkedIn group; you can create your profile here. If you already have a LinkedIn profile, all you need to do is submit a request to join one or all of the following groups:

Water Environment Federation (Main) | Biosolids | Collection Systems | Nutrients | Stormwater 
Utility Management | Water Reuse | Water for Jobs | Watershed Management | Laboratory Practices 

RSS Feed Print
Chemical Storage
Posted: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 2:52 PM
Joined: 5/4/2010
Posts: 1

I just (finally) got a benchtop chemical storage container. Are there any chemicals that SHOULD NOT be put in here together? I have Sodium Hypo, Pot Chloride, Hydrogen Perox, Hydrochloric, and a few others that aren't mandatory for the cabinet.

Thanks for the input!!

Perry Brake
Posted: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 9:58 PM
Joined: 12/16/2009
Posts: 69

LabRat, some folks might hesitate to reply to this one because of a concern that they might omit some important fact that could eventually be used against them.  So right up front, I'm going to tell you what I know about the chemicals you mention, and advise you to do further research if you think their might be other concerns. 




Sodium hypochlorite is an oxidizing agent (like a lot of other chemicals that end in "-ite" or "-ate") which, when mixed with acids (including fumes of hydrochloric or other acids), could release gaseous vapors...chlorine in the case of hypochlorite.  When mixed with reducing agents, it can spontaneously ignite.  So right away, I recommend not storing the hydrochloric acid and sodium hypochlorite in the same cabinet.  You should have a separate cabinet for storing all strong acids.




Hydrogen peroxide is also an oxidizing agent, but in weak concentrations (which is what I imagine you have), it is relatively safe...but I still wouldn't store it with acids.  If not capped tightly, the weak solution will give off water vapor and oxygen, and become more concentrated, thus becoming a strong oxidizing agent.  Keep it tightly capped, and check the level of liquid periodically to make sure it isn't evaporating. 




Potassium chloride, like its cousin, sodium chloride, is the salt of a strong acid (KOH) and strong acid (HCl) which, when mixed with water (liquid or vapor...aka "humidity"), forms a neutral, and therefore non-hazardous solution.  KCl in the presence of water vapor is very corrosive to metals, but it does not present a significant health hazard (and in fact is used as a dietary supplement to replace its cousin, sodium chloride.  It can be safely stored with the sodium hypochlorite and hydrogen peroxide, but should not be stored with strong acids for the same reason stated above...store nothing with the hydrochloric acid except other acids.




A good resource for you in determining what can be stored with what is Dangerous Properties of Industrial Chemicals by N. Irving Sax.  A nearby university, technical trade school, and maybe even a larger high school would probably have a copy of the three-book set.  You should also be able to find it at the fire department serving your area.


Finally, you didn't mention flammable liquids, probably because you use none in the lab.  But if you do use/store them, they, too, should be in a separate cabinet, preferably in a remote corner of the lab or other part of the same building.


It's good you are concerned about safety, LabRat.  It often takes a low priority with serious potential consequences.  A couple years ago, I wrote a model safety manual/SOP for a small (e.g., WWTP) lab.  If you would like a free copy, download it at the last bullet at http://www.perrybrake.com/BODSolutions.html.




Posted: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 8:18 PM
Joined: 12/31/2009
Posts: 40

I'll chip in my $0.01 (the recession has even hit the value of my opinions!) as well.  General rules are, store acids away from bases.  All oxidizing agents go in a separate place.  Solvents get their own special place.  Flammable materials (which may or may not be solvents) need to be in special explosion proof cabinents.  I think there are a few other classifications that need separate storage but I can't think of them off hand.  Most other general laboratory reagents can just go in a nice cabinent at room temp.

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010 1:33 PM

Thanks a bunch - I understand the liability that people may be hesitant about replying  on this. I just want to be safe than sorry and I figured this is one major place that people could help me out!!

Thanks agan!

labrat wink