Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Starting out from scratch buliding a garage lab

bw4229x - 15-12-2013 at 20:43

So i know its probably been discussed here many times. Im not new to chemistry but ive never had a "safe" place to practice it, now that me and my wife have purchased our first house i feel better about setting up a lab in the garage rather than the house we were renting before. So i have my chemical supplier i typically use united nuclear,, (if anyone has a better one please let me know) im always looking for a better supplier, anyway the garage is a standard one car garage with normal hook ups i plan on fabricating some sort of fire suppression system, not sure what im going to use in the system gas or water im not thinking water would be the wisest choice at all but im very open to ideas on that, also im thinking about a vent hood i know the shopvac method is tried and true from my earlier years but im trying to go pro so im wondering if anyone has routed a hood through their ceiling? and if so what where the outcomes and drawbacks of it? safety is my first priority so im going to get the whole lab set up before i stock anything in it or start buying my glassware, basically im starting from a empty canvas and im looking for as much input as i can get on the subject really the garage is pretty much going to be my area despite the washer and dryer so im wondering what success has everyone else had with storage for chemicals? possibly a climate control system?(i live in Florida humidity is a real problem) laying gas lines? mainly the top priority is safety once i figure out what im going to do with all that the fun can begin.ill make sure to post pics of how it turns out when im finished
sorry again if im dredging up a old topic any input is greatly appreciated

gsd - 15-12-2013 at 20:57


Good point to start is:


zenosx - 16-12-2013 at 22:29

Yes I would say UTFSE, you have asked a LOT of questions, almost 100% of which are already answered multiple times on this forum.

However, looking back on my first building days there are a few things I found I wanted pretty quickly

A Sink, (UTF,,, naw just put in a sink if you can....)

A fume hood, build it (UTFSE), (No, a shop vac will not protect you from toxic fumes BTW>.....)

A vacuum source (UTFSE),

A distillation apparatus with vacuum capability (UTFSE),

Glassware (Ebay)

Common Sense (cannot be purchased, only earned.....)

Dariusrussell - 17-12-2013 at 04:06

I was U2U'ing with bw4229x and one thing he mentioned that might be appropriate for the thread is automatic gaseous fire suppression. He mentioned halon (Probably halon 1301) as the suppressant. I would be interested in people's opinions on this safety measure for a home lab. I personally think its a great idea, but would be impractical to implement (Too dangerous, expensive, hard to do right).

confused - 17-12-2013 at 08:32

what about CO2 or pressurized nitrogen as a fire suppressant?

Fire suppression system using compressed gas

bw4229x - 17-12-2013 at 10:26

So i was thinking about putting in a fire suppression system into my new lab, as in my other post im just closing on my first house and the garage is pretty much a open canvas.
Costs and labor aside, generally speaking. its my personal opinion that in the event of a emergency id rather stand clear hit a button and evacuate rather than fumble around with a fire extinguisher, plus the advantages of using a "clean" extinguisher such as halon vs. foam or spray could reduce some damage done to my work papers,chemicals,electronics,ect im not quite sure how to rig up the system but i have a pretty good idea. anyway halon is still available for purchase where i live, quite a few different blends to select from, worst comes to worse i could always run water through the ceiling lines, but as someone suggested it water can be a mixed blessing in a lab depending on what your working on
just a general question hoping for some input

Dariusrussell - 17-12-2013 at 10:37

I could see CO2 being useful, though in the U2U he mentioned being able to get the halon for cheap. I think nitrogen would be a waste for fire suppression, seeing how easy it is to get CO2 and other suppressants.
Anyways I'm linking in two articles on fire suppression from wikipedia:

Dr.Bob - 17-12-2013 at 10:53

Halon is pretty expensive in most cases these days. If you are in a shed or separate garage, it is not worth building a fire system, if you are in your house, it would be nice, or even just put a sprinkler system in the whole house. They are much less expensive now. Unless you are manufacturing large quantities of sodium metal, water should put out most lab fires. A few fire extinguishers are great to have, almost any are useful for certain fires. For paper/wood, water is best, CO2 is great for fuels, and for most others a ABC powder one is great. I still have a few Halon ones from long ago, but they are near impossible to refill now.

bw4229x - 17-12-2013 at 10:57

And @ the shop-vac one, long ago me and my buddy had to improvise so we where able to get by using a hood with a modified hose, and the output of the vac was modified to run a hose outdoors, wasn't really working with anything too toxic just mainly used to remove most of the fumes for short periods, in the before times where we were broke but still had a desire to learn and worked with what we had =P

MichiganMadScientist - 17-12-2013 at 10:58

Definately spend some time on these boards researching other chemical suppliers. UnitedNuclear is a good place to start, but I find that they are a bit expernsive on the glassware-kits, etc...

Magpie - 17-12-2013 at 11:39

Quote: Originally posted by Dr.Bob  
A few fire extinguishers are great to have, almost any are useful for certain fires. For paper/wood, water is best, CO2 is great for fuels, and for most others a ABC powder one is great.

I agree with Dr.Bob that being prepared for fire suppression is a very wise thing to do. I have never had a fire but it is at the top of my list of concerns, along with accidental poisoning or other serious bodily damage.

The big problem with a fire is that it can not only endanger you and your loved ones but will call in the local authorities to determine the cause. And then it is very likely that your homeowner's or renter's insurance will not cover the damage due to the limitations in your insurance policy.

bfesser - 17-12-2013 at 11:40

<a href="" target="_blank">Halon</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /> systems are fine in server centers, but you probably don't want one in a chemistry laboratory. Fluorocarbons (<em>et al.</em>;) would cause real problems if you had a fire involving alkali metals. I'm a proponent of just being cautious and having a fully charged fire extinguisher & bucket of sand/borax/carbonate on hand.

[Edited on 17.12.13 by bfesser]

Magpie - 17-12-2013 at 11:44

I have often toyed with the idea of teeing in a large CO2 fire extinguisher to the ducting of my fume hood. This would give me the capability of extingushing any fire in the ducting as well as any fire in the hood. A 3/4" or 1" port would probably be all that is needed. I don't know why I haven't done it yet.

Quote: Originally posted by bfesser  
I'm a proponent of just being cautious and having a fully charged fire extinguisher & bucket of sand/borax/carbonate on hand.

I have that but still feel I should do more.

[Edited on 17-12-2013 by Magpie]

[Edited on 17-12-2013 by Magpie]

bw4229x - 18-12-2013 at 13:35

Local authorities are a huge problem where i live along with nosy neighbors, everyone in the area is so ignorant and chemiphobic that they think if you have a lab in your garage, you must be a meth producer or plotting to take over the world with nuclear devices, authorities on the other hand being local police im sure if tipped off or responded to a accident would like to have at-least a walk though to make sure its not any of the things listed above,(needless to say it inst) but id like to kinda have the cutting edge prevention and suppression to mainly keep my family safe, and if any questions from the law or fire inspector came up id slide right under the radar

confused - 18-12-2013 at 18:30

my (possibly misguided) concern about gaseous fire suppressant is that it displaces the oxygen of the surrounding, so in the event that one gets trapped/ becomes unconscious, there would be no oxygen to breathe.

also, the fact that all of the gaseous fire suppressant systems I've seen involve the evacuation of the area immediately after the system is activated.

So would a supplied air/SCBA system be advised for such a setup?
or am i just being paranoid/overly cautious? :D

Dariusrussell - 19-12-2013 at 12:27

No your not, I suggested when talking to bw4229x that if he does this, he should install an oxygen meter/alarm in the lab in case of leaks, as well as have a wireless, or portable one to determine when its safe to assess the damage after the gas has been released (and room air reintroduced).
I think supplied air/SCBA might be a bit much, since they aren't much use if you have a oxygen level warning.

Random - 19-12-2013 at 12:31

Perhaps the first thing would be taking safety precautions and then storing the solvents and other flammable stuff in the right cabinet for it then securing that area with something more strongly. It may be a better choice than setting up whole systems for fire suppression.