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Author: Subject: Had an acciedent.......
Polverone
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A cautionary tale

Sometimes, no matter how smart you think you are, you can be a moron. Last night I discovered that a plastic bottle that holds concentrated sulfuric acid for an hour won't necessarily hold it for three hours. I now have a wooden shelf with extensive acid damage, one coat that looks like it was attacked by radioactive killer moths, a discolored plastic tabletop, and several blackened patches of carpet (mixed with sodium carbonate that still needs to be vacuumed up). Oh, and a discolored streak running down one wall. It could have been worse. If I'd spent any longer eating supper it could have spread to engulf my computer and hotplate before I noticed. And it could have been a lot better, if I'd set the bottle inside a glass dish like I thought about doing.
Hazard to Others

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I didn't think that sulfuric acid could attack plastics! Do you know what kind of plastic it was? How much sulfuric acid was in the container?

And you have your computer near to your chemicals? Fumes can harm the sensitive components inside. This reminds me of my time in school... a TV in one of the chemistry rooms had be be replaced because it was defect. The reason was corrosion caused by vapour of corrosive substances or vapour that forms corrosive substances in contact with water (such as SO2).
Polverone
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Plastic unknown

Until yesterday I didn't think that any common acid (including sulfuric) would attack plastics either. I don't know what sort of plastic it was; the bottom of the bottle holds the recycling code that tells what type it is, and it was destroyed. The bottle was originally used to hold sterile eye drops for use with contact lenses. I thought it would make a nice dropper bottle for small amounts of H2SO4 indoors (since I store the big jug outside in a cabinet). I came into my room and thought things smelled a little funny, but I was doing a reaction on the hotplate so I didn't think too much of it. Then I saw over on my shelf that there was a puddle of acid formed, and a thin stream falling on the table below the shelf. The acid was coming from the bottom of the bottle that I had set there.

When I tried to pick up the bottle to put it in a glass pan to take outside, the whole bottom fell away (that's when the acid went down the wall and onto the carpet). If I'd been thinking a little better I would have set the glass pan up to catch the acid instead of trying to move the bottle. But, of course, many things could have gone better (or worse) yesterday.

I am not too worried about vapors from this incident damaging computer equipment. I do think that my monitor is suffering progressive failure from exposure to various fumes, though. I was aware of the potential problems but this monitor has lasted several years and has a big scratch on the screen (from careless handling by someone moving it) anyhow.

There were probably 300-400 mL of acid in the bottle at the time of the incident.
International Hazard

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I have removed the metal needle from plastic syringes in the past to use them to slowly dropper sulfuric acid into reactions. Those syringes were ruined.

I weep at the sight of flaming acetic anhydride.
vulture
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The danger with sulfuric acid is that one quickly forgets that its solution is just strongly acidic, but in conc. form it is actually a strong oxidizer.
Most plastics are degraded by strong oxidizing acids, think of HNO3.

PE, for example, resist dilute and strong acids, but not strong oxidizing acids. PP resists it limitedly.

One shouldn't accept or resort to the mutilation of science to appease the mentally impaired.
PHILOU Zrealone
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Don't be surprised, the same happened to me with HClO4 70% in a 500ml PET bottle! It stayed OK for 4 days and when I took the bottle same as what happened to you happened to me!Hopefully I recollected 80% of my precious liquid with some damages to the synthetic carpet, my desk and school bag.
Funny to see how 70% HClO4 can virtually chew paper...it becomes transparent and liquid like glue...it also becomes extremely unstable owing to spontaneously burning/explosive organic esters of HClO4...man that burns fiercely with explosions!

So plastic is indeed corroded by acids (especially oxydising ones).
Depends on the plastic nature, molecule, charge (sometimes inert, sometimes not).
Polyesters and polyamides are destroyed by bases and acids (hydrolysis) PET (polyethylene terephtalate is one example).
Metacrylate is destroyed by oxydisers and by the sun owing to reactive double links.
Rubber is destroyed by oxydisers (cf double links).
PE restist acids and oxydisers but the caps often dont.
Polystyrene doesn't resist oxydisers!
PVC doesn't resist long acids and bases and oxydisers.
Teflon resists all!

So it is wise when you play with acids to store them in glass bottles with PE caps or glass rod caps...sole exception is HF that corrodes glass ;-)!
Xenos
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Somewhat off topic, but i thought id post this anyway... A few days ago, my friend was pouring some H2SO4 into a glass test tube, and spilled some down his hand. Not willing to take a nice acid scar down his fingers, he intelligently puts the test tube down on my wooden table and washes of his hand. Well i noticed the 10ml of acid spilling onto my table, and quickly fixed the problem. Anyway, now there is a nice bare spot, free of the paint drips and laquer spots.
PrimoPyro
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Terphthalate Plastic

H2SO4 definitely eats certain plastics, it all depends on which kind. Terphthalate plastics (like common soda bottles) are simply polyesters, and are easily hydrolyzed by acids and bases as well.

Sorry to hear about the mishap Polverone.

PrimoPyro
daryl
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My act of stupido was to attempt to heat some ruthenium oxide in a stream of hydrogen.

The hydrogen was generated by dissolving zinc in HCl. The H2 was passed throgh a dreschel bottle of H2SO4 to dry it. The exhaust tube has some steel wool to prevent blowback.

The stupido was that the zinc was from old batteries and had some MnO attached to it. This reacts with HCl to produce chlorine. Therefore I was heating a mixture of hydrogen and chlorine and passing it over a red hot metal oxide. The gaseous mixture exploded, destroying most of my glassware and throwing the tube from the dreschel bottle onto the roof of the family car.

The H2SO4 dissolved the duco down to the bare metal before I found it and concealed it from my father with house paint.

I was wearing goggles at the time and I managed to remove the HCl from the concrete floor and most of the H2SO4 from the car
trinitrotoluene
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Some common plastics do resist strong acids. When I bought a liter of 31% HCl its in a HDPE bottle. The 93% H2SO4 I bought was also in a HDPE bottle.

TNT
lucifer
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A friend of mine stored 58% HNO3 in a plastic Coca-Cola bottle.
After one year he picked it up and the bottle broke in lots of pieces,
The carpet was now soaked with HNO3 acid and dark brown fumes (NO2) came from the hot carpet.
He of coarse had to through away the carpet.

trinitrotoluene
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My cautionary tale

It was yesterday when i've opened up 2 instent cold packs. I thought both or them was NH4NO3 but 1 of the packs, the substance was colored yellow which was kind of strange.But both was laden with moisture.I was planning to dry both of them and store it in a soda bottle. The first pack which i'm sure was NH4NO3 because its white and has the same properties as pure NH4NO3.I poured the prills into a beaker with a handle, placed it on a hot plate turned on low.After most of the moisture is gone I then poured it into a soda bottle for storage.The second pack was colored yellow. I did the same as i did with the first pack, place it into a beaker and heated it on low. But as I heated it, it gave off a very strong oder. The oder was the smell of very strong ammonia.I then tured off the heat and evacuated the area.I then turned on the computer went on aim to ask a few questions. The answar I got back was the yellow substance in fact wasn't NH4NO3 but was Urea. But the person also said the fumes could be ammonia or hydrazine. But later on it was determined that it was ammonia not hydrazine. Infinatly better. But so far that was the most that happand to me.

TNT
KABOOOM(pyrojustforfun)
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I see every body is admiting accidents . this is a warning that there is always some thing we don't know that hurts us. 5 mounths ago I concentrated some H2SO4 (with unknown concentration) to 95-98% (by heating).it was in a 500 ml balloon and had a rubber stopper with 2 holes, one for the thermometer the other hole had a shaped glass tube inside which was led in a bottle ful of water to prevent harmful fumes (although it was outside). I heated it to above 300°C(don't remember the exact temp) I stopped heating and waited for some hours then pulled the glass tube and pushed a piece of plastic bag through the hole and poured some candle drops on it to seal the hole, at this time it was around 80°C.
some days later I saw beneath of the balloon was sucked in sulfuric acid and some of it was spreaded on the table, fortunately it was glass. I could save 300 ml of it. and covered the place with sodium carbonate. there was a scratch in the balloon. I think when it was cooled it made a vacuum pressure that caused the problem.
notagod
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PET

PET plastic, at least the one found in bottles here in Sweden, are in fact very resistant to acids and bases. To hydrolyses it you need to boil it in ethanol and KOH. (Of course it will somewhat get attacked by acid and base, but not much)
Ramiel
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Beat this...

I accidentally made Potassium nitrousamine (which is really carcenogenic), and then inhaled a great lungfull of it...

Life expectancy = Life expectancy - 40
trinitrotoluene
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Running for my life

Last sunday I decided to make some chlorine gas. So I mixed 100ml of 31% HCl with 100 grams of Calcium Hypochlorate which is 75% and has 78% avaliable Chlorine.I did this outside. This is what I did. I took a 20 oz soda bottle filled it with the HCl then made a paper funnel and added to Calcium Hypochlorate. My plan is for it to react slowly and I will close the cap trapping the Cl gas.But it reacted very quickly and vigerously I also underestimated the volume of Cl gas it will gererate. Then I was overwhelmed with Cl gas and a stream of yellowish green gas shot up out of the bottle. Without a gas mask I am doomed as i'm choking on the gas. I then held my breath and made a run for it. I had escaped. To calm my self down I decided to take a walk around the block. As i wa a block away I can still smell Cl gas.Can not beleave its so strong. As I hear dogs barking everywhere maybe because of the smell. But for now I learned my lesson and I will get a gas mask. But a few things i have to say, never unestimate the power of chlorine!

TNT
trinitrotoluene
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explosion

Today I mixed 20 grams of sucrose with 30 grams of KNO3 both finely powdered. Placed it into a copper cruciple. And heated it on a hotplate. I found a stick outside so I used that one to stirr. When the stuff started melting some KNO3/sucrose go stuck on the stick. So I decided to place the stick on the heating element of the hotplate. The stuff ignited and I raised up the stick while its still burning vigerously. A spark or something went off and went into the 50 grams mixture. Boom....... a large cloud of smoke and molten stuff sparyed everywhere. 2 feet away I can see holes burned through soda bottles. And around the site on my deck, burned indentations are on the wood. My paints have holes burned in it as well as my jacket. My face dosese't seem to be affected thay seemed to miss me face. The only exposed area was my face and hand. On my wrist I suffered some 2nd degree burns which are quite painful. After this I learned a lesson. I'm not going to fool around nomore.

TNT
blindreeper
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Chlorine

Well I had an accident with chlorine and went to hospital beat that TNT lol.

I was making it with HCl and KMnO4 and it wasn't going fast enough and added to much HCl. But why would any one what to make Cl2? Cause copper spontaniously combusts when in contact with it cool!!!
DDTea
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Interesting... I've made Chlorine many many times and breathed it in each time. However, I've never had to make any hospital visits...just take a few hours to relax and be calm after exposure. It's almost a fun process now, to get to know my chemical creations so well . Of course, there are some chemicals I would never think of trying this with!

In fact, the best "Right-Now" treatment for almost any gas inhalation (Save for the ones that attack skin and eyes, causing terrible burns), is plain fresh air! I would hesitate to make any emergency calls concerning an accident in my lab...but I assume you made a suitable excuse, that you had a "cleaning accident" . How badly were you exposed to your Chlorine though?
PHILOU Zrealone
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I have had a long time ago when I was young:
*2 toxic gases emission in my house (Cl2 and NxOy)- I had to go out and leave my appartement with open windows for 2 hours and take fresh air!
*2 explosions; one on my balcony while attempting to make benzyl chloride from toluen, hypochlorite, HCl and sunlight; another one with an explosive homemade firework that I wasn't able to use for New year (it was one of 10 devices) but owing to temperature (-26°C) I had no more gaseous gas to light the fuse and my fingers were frozen), I had already enjoyed 9. The device detonated in my room when I wasn't there! Explosions always cost a lot when you have to repair or replace carpets, windows, mirrors, wallpapers,furnitures!(roughly 1000 $+ crazy screaming angry mother). *A strong hand burning from a homemade hand grenade based on glycerol/KMnO4 and black powder.Hopefully I cured very well owing to good personnal medical skills. *Two hot acid spills on the carpet and vinyl cover of my room (total cost of replacement 600$).

From this I learned a lot:
*Never store mix of chemicals!
*Never keep ready to use explosive device!Always use fast!
*Always use soft PE container instead of glass, metal ones!Schrappnels!
*Make a decent lab, your room or kitchen aren't labs...all damages will go to your house, or parents house!
*Always use safety fuse.
*Think to consequences of a possible explosion (endanger neightbourgs, walkers, brothers, childrens, parents; destroys a room, furniture, set fire to other devices or chems).
*Keep it small and dismantelled (small is always safer than large one).
*For dangerous experiments allways outdoor, never indoor!
*Outside damages cost much less than inside ones!
*Store reactive chemicals far away from each other!
*Store explosive chemicals outside!
*Learn as much as possible about any experiment and hazards!
*Understand the chemistry behind it!
*Never add an extra ingredient to a safe mix without thinking four times about the possible side reactions!

PH Z (PHILOU Zrealone)

"Physic is all what never works; Chemistry is all what stinks and explodes!"-"Life that deadly disease, sexually transmitted."(W.Allen)
Ramiel
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 Quote: Originally posted by PHILOU Zrealone Polyesters and polyamides are destroyed by bases and acids (hydrolysis)

It has been my experience that polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE; plastic coke bottles for example) is resistant to acids such as HCl.

er, I don't understand why you might say that then 'PZ. (not meaning to be rude!)

I will look into converting my storage from PETE to PE though! I don't want my lab to end up like yours Polverone!

Caveat Orator
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If you want a real mess, try dissolving nickel alloys in an aqueous solution of ~25% Caro's acid. It's a nuisance to clean up the solution of nickel salts that's ejected from the reaction vessel - consider their toxic nature!

I weep at the sight of flaming acetic anhydride.
Cappy
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I can't find chemical resistance information for saran plastic and paraffin. I was specifically interested in their resistance to H2SO4 (up to 50% or so concentration).

There's a good chem. resistance file on the FTP. It lists the resistance TO many chemicals, but not OF many chemicals.
PHILOU Zrealone
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Mood: Bis-diazo-dinitro-hydroquinonic

I have had PET bottles:
*with diluted HNO3 and H2SO4; after one year it visibly has shrinked in size and hardens; some crakels are visible and acid spills observable...bottle start to decompose as multilayers.

*with concentrated 98% H2SO4, 70% HClO4, 70% HNO3 bottle melt/liquefy and becomes glueish after a few days

*with NH4OH (20% NH3) bottle opacify upon time and starts to pelliculate plastic layers inside within a few monthes bottle is reduced to puzzle size brittle fragments.

Following this I say, ON PURPOSE, that HCl 35% bw will do the same and thet PET bottles aren't suitable for chemicals storage!

The molecular formula of PET will make you understand this:
-(CH2)n-O2C-C6H4-CO2-(CH2)x-
with n,x= k*2 (k real integer between 1 and 100)
The acid will free some HO2C-C6H4-CO2H and
HO-(CH2)x-OH or HO-(CH2)n-OH breaking the plastic fiber integrity; a base will do the same but also cristallise the terephtalate salt inside the polymer matrix and yield the opacity and flakes.

Parafin is alkanic and looks pretty much like PE except that owing to a lower molecular weight (or chain lenght) Parafin (from latin parum affinum -little affinity (to react)) will be more soft, brittle, less elastic and display a lower melting point.

Saran is some kind of polyester or polyamide (I think some kind of Nylon); nylon doesn't stand acids oxydising ones being the worst with imediate decomposition (HNO3 or HClO4 70% make it melt on contact ... ever put some hairs in HNO3- hairs are polyamides (polypeptides based on serine (from "soieries";silk in french) it foams and vanish in a nasty soup in a day!).
It may stand a little longer (a few days with strong nonoxydating acids/bases) but not that much!

PH Z (PHILOU Zrealone)

"Physic is all what never works; Chemistry is all what stinks and explodes!"-"Life that deadly disease, sexually transmitted."(W.Allen)
JustMe
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Wow, I just discovered this site. And I thought that I was alone in the chemical craziness of my youth. Although I never lost interest, it fell by the wayside. And I may later start some threads on some topics worth taking up by some other mad home scientist.

Anyway, as for my blunders (30 or more years ago)...

1) Never store liquid butane in a glass jar at room temperature. Sure, it's only a couple of atmospheres, but eventually the glass just gives up and goes boom.

2) A little more than a "classic"... durn foolish. If I remember correctly, Potassium Dichromate, Salt and Sulfuric Acid heated together yields Chromyl Chloride. It's a really neat substance. Dark red, like bromine... and a powerful oxidizing agent. I was considering it as a rocket fuel oxidizer and then thought better of it. I had a brick wall and put a small petri dish containing a few ml (!) of it on the other side. Carefully I let a few drops of anhydrous alcohol fall into the dish. Woosh! Instant flames! Only THEN came the mistake. Tossed water on it. Chromyl Chloride is violently decomposed by water too! Bigger flame! But, as I said... brick wall! Thank goodness for that!

3) Never was courageous enough to handle cyanide... instead I made Hydrogen Selenide. Later learned it is 20X more poisonous than the former. Ack!!!

4) Heated Kaolin clay with concentrated Sulfuric Acid as part of an attempt to find a way to bring aluminum into solution. The resulting fumes required that an entire wing of my high school be evacuated.

5) Nitrogen Triodide... enough said!

Y'know, it's amazing I survived my youth!

I think I'll stop now before I really look like an idiot. But I think the concept behind this BBS is cool. I'll check in now and again. My hope too, is that there will be some chemistry student here I can interest in picking up a study I started a long time ago. It had great potential... the prof thought I had found a new type of chemical bond (and I've never seen any research in this area since), but due to circumstances beyond my control, I couldn't finish the research. Ah well. Cheers
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 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Special topics » Energetic Materials » Had an acciedent....... Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues