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Author: Subject: Chemist's Nightmare
Nitrovolt
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[*] posted on 19-12-2013 at 11:49


a cloud of phosgene in the laboratory, of that you do not go : (
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smaerd
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[*] posted on 20-12-2013 at 07:19


My night-mares usually consist of: Peroxides in my ether's, Spilling reaction mixtures containing DMSO on my skin, etc.




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[*] posted on 22-12-2013 at 17:50


I am infact scared of toxic gases a lot. Now if I had a distant location outside with nothing around it I would be scared a lot less.
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Arthur Dent
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[*] posted on 27-12-2013 at 16:45


My modest extra-light nightmare was a moment of dumb inattention. Had been drying Copper Carbonate sludge for a few minutes in my big pyrex drying pan. As the sludge was nearly completely dry, I took the drying pan off the heat plate and put it on a big cinder block to cool down. Ugh.

The thermal difference between the cinder block and the drying pan was just too great and I almost immediately heard a loud "CLINK" and the pan was split in half. It was my favorite drying pan. :(

I've never had "nightmare scenarios" with strong mineral acids or flammable solvents, but when I use these, I am extra extra careful, bordering on paranoid, with many contingency plans at hand so that I don't end up with a catastrophe on my hands or that I get badly hurt by my experiments.

The only "incident" with an acid that I recall was when I was finished with an experiment using concentrated HCl, I neutralised the remaining acid / FeCl3 with sodium bicarbonate solution, poured a bit too much at one moment and it overbubbled and spilled on the concrete, making a nice permanent dark brown circular stain on my balcony.

Robert




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[*] posted on 27-12-2013 at 18:13


Then you just mix up a bigger batch of FeCl3 and stain and seal the whole balcony. I prefer the green of the copper salts myself but that's just me.
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[*] posted on 28-12-2013 at 11:09


How about a butyl lithium fire?
http://www.chemistry-blog.com/2009/01/20/tert-butyllithium-c...




The Home Chemist Book web page and PDF. Help if you want to make Home Chemist history! http://www.bromicacid.com/bookprogress.htm
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[*] posted on 29-12-2013 at 17:32


Quote: Originally posted by sargent1015  
How about a butyl lithium fire?
http://www.chemistry-blog.com/2009/01/20/tert-butyllithium-c...


Very scary, I always think that pyrophoric doesn't seem so bad like nickel used for hydrogenation but now it gave me the whole different meaning.
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[*] posted on 4-1-2014 at 20:17


Quote: Originally posted by Antiswat  
List up a few scenarios or actual stories you have heard or even experienced about chemistry, as in bad cases.

2 things i wouldnt be happy about as a start

spilling a large bottle of superfine MnO2 powder

having the bottom of a glass H2SO4 98% container dropping out, out of nowhere.


sorry, I'm a beginner, what could MnO2 powder do?
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[*] posted on 5-1-2014 at 09:38


it gets everywhere, and is hell to cleanup, also, reacts with hydrogen peroxide somewhat vigerously
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Zyklon-A
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[*] posted on 11-1-2014 at 08:02


Just bought 65 ft of fuse the other day, 20 minutes after it came I used a few inches of it to ignight a 20 gram smoke bomb, after it caught, a blob of burning smoke mix flew through the air and landed 8 ft away right on my new coil of fuse. Huge fire ball, and all 65 ft of it was gone. :mad: Waist of 20 bucks and 6-8 days of shipping.
Also that day I was going to put on a fireworks show for my family.
Guess how that turned out without any fuse.

[Edited on 11-1-2014 by Zyklonb]




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[*] posted on 11-1-2014 at 08:08


Nickel Tetracarbonyl is a very scary chemical, if I spilled that, I think I would just sell my house.:P



When the police come


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[*] posted on 12-1-2014 at 13:18


My nightmare involves trying to concentrate a plutonium solution and having it go critical.

I manage to get some spent fuel rods on TradeMe or eBay and dissolve them up in mixed acid, and then start separating the components by solubility. First the sulfate insolubles, then the heavy metals, etc etc. The volume keeps increasing with wash liquid etc. so I have to boil it down every now and again. Suddenly, during a concentration phase the reaction mix starts boiling uncontrollably, even when I remove the heating. I'm spraying the vessel with water full force but it is slowly but inexorably becoming more violent. Time to wake up.
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[*] posted on 12-1-2014 at 16:07


Quote: Originally posted by TheChemiKid  
Nickel Tetracarbonyl is a very scary chemical, if I spilled that, I think I would just sell my house.:P


If I spilled that stuff in my house I'd burn it down for the insurance.




Please remember: "Filtrate" is not a verb.
Write up your lab reports the way your instructor wants them, not the way your ex-instructor wants them.
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[*] posted on 12-1-2014 at 16:47


Here are a couple:

  • Having manganese heptoxide explode at the least convenient moment.
  • Unintentionally generating fluorine, HCN or cyanogen.
  • Spilling beryllium powder. That would be worse than manganese dioxide.
  • Forgetting to remove a mirroring solution (Tollen's reagent) from a flask.
  • Opening a bottle of TiCl4 that was mislabeled.
  • Touching, let alone drinking oleum. Or worse, splashing it in someone's face.


Quote: Originally posted by DraconicAcid  
Quote: Originally posted by TheChemiKid  
Nickel Tetracarbonyl is a very scary chemical, if I spilled that, I think I would just sell my house.:P


If I spilled that stuff in my house I'd burn it down for the insurance.


If I spilled that stuff in my house I'd make sure to update my will and testament. I don't think I'd care about the house anymore.




At the end of the day, simulating atoms doesn't beat working with the real things...
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Antiswat
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[*] posted on 15-3-2014 at 08:05


pouring H2SO4 into a beaker, and just nanometres before the H2SO4 splash with great joy into the beaker i realise ''hey... wasnt that the beaker i used for recrystallizing NH4ClO4 without cleaning it up?''



~25 drops = 1mL @dH2O viscocity - STP
Truth is ever growing - but without context theres barely any such.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solubility_table
http://www.trimen.pl/witek/calculators/stezenia.html
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[*] posted on 15-3-2014 at 10:42


Quote: Originally posted by Brain&Force  
Here are a couple:

  • Unintentionally generating... HCN


I've done that before. Not very fun at all!
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Zyklon-A
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[*] posted on 15-3-2014 at 11:33


Nice....
A couple days ago, when pouring 950mL 98% sulfuric acid from one container to another, some spilled down the container onto my glove, and down on my forearm. Because I was holding a glass bottle full of an acid, I couldn't just "drop everything I was holding", so it took at least 15 seconds to wash the acid off. I put my hand into a solution of NaHCO3 and some NH3(aq), (which exists for that exact reason.) Immediately the liquid surrounding my hand started to boil (heat generated from acid-base reaction,) and dense white fumes floated out of the jar. Now two days later, the scars are all ready almost gone, but my skin is dehydrated and even it cracked in a few places, despite my efforts to keep it moist.

[Edited on 15-3-2014 by Zyklonb]




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[*] posted on 15-3-2014 at 15:47


1. - Well, once I was demonstrating the "proper" way to nitrate cellulose with a great deal of attention on the washing steps. While I was doing the first washes of the nitrated cellulose in water from the faucet in the sink all the students crowded around me (and thus trapping me from moving) and then the nitrating solution started gassing a lot because of the heat generated (mind you, this was more than half a liter nitrating batch with ~50 grams of cotton) and I almost choked but couldn't move away fast, to avoid splattering acids around, and couldn't speak due to the fumes choking me. That was really scary...keeping calm while slowly choking on toxic fumes...

2. - Same semester, I was nitrating ethanol to see if I could isolate it properly, caught a whiff, and thought my brain was damaged permanently due to the worst headache ever..

3. - Another time I had been exposed to chloroform at work for days while extracting lipids from algae, multiple samples with triplicates. And the last day I painted my living room with an oil based paint..., at that time I was really sure my brain had been destroyed because the insane headaches lasted for days... never again.

4. - Distilling hydroiodic acid from KI and phosphoric acid, and just noticing the flask smolder and crack while washing it a couple of days afterwards wasn't fun either...

5. - When I was 18, defusing a dud in a lead block, causing it to go off in my face with about 40 cm open passage to my eyes and face was very painful and traumatic. I still have lead pieces encased in my face but my eyesight somehow survived... that was the day I left energetics for life...

6. - Getting caught by ammonia fumes from a 32% solution in a 1 liter bottle, with my only wish was to drop it and run, but that could have killed me and my classmates. Chronic bleeding and infections ensued.... Now, even 10 years after, my mucus membranes in my sinuses and nostrils are severely fucked up and one nostril is scarred to have about 50% flow area


Have more horror stories but I think I need to reconsider my hobby after I've read my own post right now.....




Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
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[*] posted on 15-3-2014 at 15:53


Quote: Originally posted by bahamuth  

6. - Getting caught by ammonia fumes from a 32% solution in a 1 liter bottle, with my only wish was to drop it and run, but that could have killed me and my classmates. Chronic bleeding and infections ensued.... Now, even 10 years after, my mucus membranes in my sinuses and nostrils are severely fucked up and one nostril is scarred to have about 50% flow area

I've done that before, though not with as strong effects as you describe.
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[*] posted on 15-3-2014 at 16:19


Quote: Originally posted by thesmug  
Quote: Originally posted by bahamuth  

6. - Getting caught by ammonia fumes from a 32% solution in a 1 liter bottle, with my only wish was to drop it and run, but that could have killed me and my classmates. Chronic bleeding and infections ensued.... Now, even 10 years after, my mucus membranes in my sinuses and nostrils are severely fucked up and one nostril is scarred to have about 50% flow area

I've done that before, though not with as strong effects as you describe.


Been there, done that but not even close to end up like that.
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[*] posted on 16-3-2014 at 02:30


Quote: Originally posted by HgDinis25  
Quote: Originally posted by thesmug  
Quote: Originally posted by bahamuth  

6. - Getting caught by ammonia fumes from a 32% solution in a 1 liter bottle, with my only wish was to drop it and run, but that could have killed me and my classmates. Chronic bleeding and infections ensued.... Now, even 10 years after, my mucus membranes in my sinuses and nostrils are severely fucked up and one nostril is scarred to have about 50% flow area

I've done that before, though not with as strong effects as you describe.


Been there, done that but not even close to end up like that.


I guess the flask was pressurized, the cabinet it was in was not temp. regulated. I remember that I got "blinded", saw only white for a few seconds due to sensory overload or something.




Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
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[*] posted on 16-3-2014 at 12:59


Quote: Originally posted by thesmug  
Quote: Originally posted by Brain&Force  
Here are a couple:

  • Unintentionally generating... HCN


I've done that before. Not very fun at all!


I did that once, from something like 5g of KCN.
Since I was working in a fume cupboard it didn't matter at all.

My nightmare is discovering that I live near to some of the people posting in this thread
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[*] posted on 16-3-2014 at 19:01


Quote: Originally posted by Paddywhacker  
My nightmare involves trying to concentrate a plutonium solution and having it go critical.

I manage to get some spent fuel rods on TradeMe or eBay and dissolve them up in mixed acid, and then start separating the components by solubility. First the sulfate insolubles, then the heavy metals, etc etc. The volume keeps increasing with wash liquid etc. so I have to boil it down every now and again. Suddenly, during a concentration phase the reaction mix starts boiling uncontrollably, even when I remove the heating. I'm spraying the vessel with water full force but it is slowly but inexorably becoming more violent. Time to wake up.


I don't see this as a realistic nightmare since the 240 would make it fizzle before it could go critical. The boiling part of the dream does make sense.

OK two of mine:

In 1969 in chem lab clearing a grand worth of glass and equipment off the bench, all becoming shrapnel combined with mind numbing sound when my attempt at making 100 gm of NI3 vaporized. No idea how much of the expected 100 gm had been created when this happened but I am still here. Was such a shock it took awhile before I realized my lab coat was soaked with NH4OH, among other chemicals.

Second was trying to create my own scintillator material in 1987. I was heating a test tube of Thallium salts and suddenly it instantly went up in a fireball. Nowhere had I read data on this chemical which warned of this possibility. Not so easy to find out these things in the days before the internet came into it's own.

Took a few years before the illness that caused tapered off. Many times a month I would wake up soaked in sweat, for years. A chronic illness and general malaise that would not go away. Somewhere around 1994 I started noticing my health was improving. Thallium I learned is an element never to be experimented with unless it is completely contained, I doubt I would even trust a fume hood that metal is so insidious in it's ability to destroy your health.




"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" Richard Feynman
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[*] posted on 17-3-2014 at 00:37


IrC, I have 50 grams of TlNO3 and up to now I only did one experiment with that. What I read from your experiences is quite disturbing. How well did you take care of not being exposed to it (e.g. tiny droplets from bubbling solutions which can get into the air, having drops of liquids containing Tl-ions smeared on your workbench). I am inclined to treat it in the same way as lead salts or mercury salts.




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[*] posted on 17-3-2014 at 05:10


Back then the only information available to an amateur working at home on inventions was going to the public library. My profession was in electronics and lead has been constantly in my environment for decades. Mercury salts not so much but I believe Hg salts would be more of an acute poison, lead an accumulation over years (soldering fumes, handling solder, etc.). I was unaware of the toxicity of Tl as there just was not much information readily available. I was heating 10 gm in a test tube trying to find a temperature where it would liquify. I had no data on the salt, not even it's exact composition but I thought at the time a nitrate.

A friend who ran a cyanide gold recovery business gave me about a quarter pound of what on the container merely said 'Thallium salts', which he used in the bath. No idea how it was used in that industry I was leery enough of using NaCN in solution I never studied nor stayed around to watch him work. Every so often he would call me to come by and pick up some unique electronic device as he knew my love of experimenting. The day I picked up that chemical was a trip to grab a couple Klystrons. I had wanted to experiment making my own NaI/Tl crystals (in a kiln from molten salts).

Needing Tl for the project but not finding it locally (remember, outside of a phone book in those days you could not find things such as this), I mentioned to him my quest for a source of Tl which he provided. On the cyanide subject - in the break room of the plant was a Crystal water chiller/dispenser, the kind with the large upside down bottle. Over a few years searching for surplus electronics there I had noticed the water in the big bottle would turn a honey yellow color by the time a third of the bottle was gone. Meaning within 4 or 5 days.

I knew enough chemistry to theorize Prussic acid was the reason for the color change. If you watched one of those office dispensers you would see air gurgle up into the bottle as you filled one of those cone shaped cups with cold water. My assumption was HCN vapors in the air from the plating bath room on the other side of the wall was the source. The cooler was directly against that wall. That room was sealed, air intake from outside, air drawn out through special filters vented back outside.

My observations of the cooler over years led me to believe the system did not work so well as they believed. I was certain only cyanide vapors could be causing the effect with the cooler. So much so I mentioned it but my fears were cavalierly blown off by them. However I started limiting my time there, running in for surplus and getting out quickly. One side note was they made coffee from that water and oddly it was the best tasting coffee, a Colombian/Almond blend is the only way I can describe the taste. It actually was very good tasting coffee.

Anyway, I had no protection, no respirator, the chemical reached a certain high temperature and blasted flaming out the test tube violently like ignited flash powder. I had not read any data which warned of this possibility. I checked at the library beforehand studying various Tl salts that I could find information on. I am merely guessing but I think the Tl burned to an oxide as I can see no other reason for the violent flash powder effect. It was burning at an almost explosive rate. You are the chemical guru maybe you can figure this out as I still do not know. The source was a proprietary mix from a major chemical supplier of the plating industry. Nowhere did they list the chemical composition, it was supposed to enhance the life of cyanide gold recovery baths. My friend there and I both guessed that it was Thallium Nitrate but we did not know for sure. Based upon the label 'Thallium salts', and his observation of so rapidly dissolving in the bath.

As to effect, severe harm for years of my immune system, I was sick all the time from everything around me. Viral infections and weird non specific symptoms that doctors were clueless over. Quite literally a confusing jumble of symptoms which left doctors totally in the dark as to my illness. This illness began slowly, enough weeks after the Tl incident, I did not connect the two nor did I mention Tl to doctors. It was not until the late 1990's and many hours online studying before I started making the connection. During those years I was clueless of the cause but I do remember about halfway through that time starting to get a nagging thought about the Tl incident being the cause. Nothing else I worked with answered the question, everything else I worked with I have been around most of my life with few effects. Certainly nothing like this hell.

Information was hard to find and events were far enough apart in time that an A to B conclusion was not readily apparent. I worked long hours in that location for 4 more years so was constantly exposed to low levels of Tl contamination of the room which was unknown to me at the time. I can say that over years I carefully thought about every chemical I used during those years and nothing else answers the question based upon the knowledge I now have. It was over half a decade later before one could even search online to learn about the subject. I can only say lead from handling solder and soldering hours daily for decades answers many questions about gastro/intestinal problems which I have suffered (and still do). Maybe nervous system effects although I am unaware of any myself - I just mention it from study of Pb accumulation toxicity data I have read.

Also I know how acutely poison Hg salts are but I have next to zero exposure to such during any of my years. As to Tl, all I can say is if you had endured the roughly 6 years I did, you would become hyper aware of just how damn dangerous the element is. There is no comparison from my personal suffering between Tl and any other heavy metal no matter what data sheets have to say. Tl is insidious, dangerous, just plain near evil in what it does to your health if you were to ever become highly exposed to it. Be very careful is my advice. To the point of full respirator gear, gloves, work outside so that nothing in even microscopic traces can reside in the building if you spend many hours a day there. In fact even if only a few hours a week in the room if there is Tl contamination. In other words work outside with Tl is my best advice.




"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" Richard Feynman
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