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Author: Subject: Irrational fear of diethyl ether?
Droso
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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 10:39
Irrational fear of diethyl ether?


Hi all,
First post here
I now this has been discussed before numerous times, but still all that information hasn't calmed me down.
Anyway, heres just a summary of my situation. Being a chemistry student, about 3 days ago I have decided to purchase a 1 liter bottle of Diethyl ether if I ever plan to do some solvent extractions in the future (It was more of an impulse purchase, I admit). Shortly after arriving home, I opened the bottle and a high pressure pop was released, almost sending the inner cap into the air. I've looked on the net for the boiling point of diethyl ether and it is 35C°. I was aware of its low boiling point, but I didn't know it was that low! We can get summer temps close to 35C° during the day and this is really taking my sleep away.
I also was aware of the peroxide problem before the purchase but only thought it forms under special conditions. After reading all the information on the net I could find I have become even more paranoid about it. The store owner told me that it is stabilized, but the label doesn't say anything. Do all manufacturers stabilize their ether (mandatory)?

I somewhat regret buying the ether and even think about getting rid of (by evaporation in a large surface area outdoors)

I have some other questions if anyone is willing to anwser them:

During a hot day (30C°+) is there a chance that the 1L amber bottle could rupture, realising the ether?

Is there other compounds that could be used to neutralize ether peroxide, other than ferrous sulfate? FeSO4 is more difficult to find where I live and no, I cant get any from where i study.

If I test the ether and it comes positive, would it be okay to just leave the neutralizing solution (ferrous sulfate or other) inside the bottle for longer storage?

Will adding more BHT than the manufacturer (in case it's really stabilized) to the ether solve the peroxide problem?

Could I use homemade sodium iodide for the peroxide test or does it need to be reagent grade?

I apologize for the noncohesive text, I don't live in an English speaking country.

Thanks

[Edited on 16-8-2015 by Droso]

[Edited on 16-8-2015 by Droso]
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aga
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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 10:48


Keep it in a fridge (= cold, no sunlight).

It is a dangerous thing to keep hanging around if you have no immediate use for it.

I've toyed with the idea of making ether a few times, however the risks are too great, and currently there would be no reward.




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Magpie
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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 11:13


Beware of fridge/freezer switches. Ether explosions have been set off by them.

Don't store it with food. Ether is very lipid soluble. It will ruin your fat containing food, eg, meats. I know this from personal experience.

I recover ether from starting fluid when I need it. I add BHT and test it periodically for peroxide with iodine. I've never had a positive result.

It would be a shame to evaporate off that ether but your safety comes first.




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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 11:35


As solvent i using instead diethyl ether MTBE (methyl-tert-butyl-ether. This stuff cheaper, no waching the authority, and has no peroxide, but the same solvent properties like the other.
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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 13:07


I ordered some stuff recently and accidentally wrote Diethylether on the list,too. It was not much,
a small bottle but I never intended to buy it at least not in summer. So I was quite nervous when
the parcel was delivered when it had between 30 and 40°C lately. I had luck since the delivery car must have
had a very good air con. The parcel came quite cold and so nothing happened to that bottle of Ether.
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byko3y
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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 13:24


You can't make grignard with MTBE. And why would I need it otherwise? I've got dichloromethane (43°C), hexane (68°C) and ethyl acetate (77°C).
Diethyl ether is so precious, so I use it for huffing only. It's really hard to make a pure one from starting fluid via distillation, you need to distill it few times. At least it has no peroxides (AFAIK there's stabilizer).
Yes, you should store it in fridge, otherwise you need a pressure resistant vessel with a good seal.
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Little_Ghost_again
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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 14:22


I dont have a fridge but outside at the back of an outbuilding where there is shade, I stuck my bottle in a bucket with a lid and dug a hole 3 feet deep. The ground stays cool (not measured it but must be below 5c?). Not dug it up for ages but the few times I have it was fine.
Probably a bit hobo a method but in a pinch?




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Magpie
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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 14:47


I love the idea of having a styrofoam cooler placed in a shallow hole for year-round storage of volatile chemicals. It's the "root cellar" approach.

I store about 100 ml of ether in an amber bottle with ptfe seal in my garage with no problems. So it pressurizes a bit - so does a bottle of beer.





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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 15:08


Beer must be stored in an appropriate container that will preserve it's salient features at all times.

This the Whole of the Law.




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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 17:59


@aga - beer must be consumed before any chance of over pressurizing or wasting comes into play.



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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 18:53


I buy ether in aluminum bottles with a two piece pressure cap. I have never detected any leaking vapors with these bottles. No light exposure and no danger of broken bottles or poorly sealing bottle caps. I would NEVER buy ether delivered in glass or store it in glass. As for storage, a separate "solvent box" with a fairly tight closure kept in a cool place has been more than sufficient.

AvB
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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 21:01


An OTC source of aluminum bottles that I used to use are some Coke bottles. They hold 250ml, are quite cheap, and work great for holding a small quantity of ether once they have been used for their original purpose;). I sand the labels off to make them look nicer, but that's really just a matter of aesthetics. They don't seem to have a plastic liner and are made out of solid aluminum. Here's an example:

Al bottles.jpg - 135kB




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[*] posted on 16-8-2015 at 21:31


I would label them off, not just for asthetics, but because storing chemicals in food bottles is kind of dangerous. The chance should not be there, that any want is aware of drinking it, there always some idiots out there, maybe you have sometimes thirsty guests visiting you? :D



You always have time to do some chemistry, but maybe you just have other priorities?
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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 02:55


Quote: Originally posted by AvBaeyer  
I buy ether in aluminum bottles with a two piece pressure cap. I have never detected any leaking vapors with these bottles. No light exposure and no danger of broken bottles or poorly sealing bottle caps. I would NEVER buy ether delivered in glass or store it in glass. As for storage, a separate "solvent box" with a fairly tight closure kept in a cool place has been more than sufficient.

AvB


I have ether and pet ether in glass. I'm going to get some aluminum bottles.

What is a "two-piece pressure cap"?

Shouldn't solvents ideally be stored in a vented metal cabinet?




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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 03:16


Never seen those bottles in Scotland, but then again not many shops around where I live. Dunno why but I prefer Glass, mine is in the bottle i got it in. I am going to dig it up later and take a look. i distilled some petrol and the lowest boiling point stuff I stuck in glass bottle. its in the garage :O! Now I am thinking maybe that should be in the hole.

Out of interest when distilling petrol would vermiculite do instead of sand? I thought it might be to good an insulator to pass heat through. but sand takes ages to get hot on my plate. I have a hot air paint stripping gun i use for shrink wrap wire tubing, may i should use that to heat the flask with the petrol? (carefully of course).




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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 03:19


Quote: Originally posted by Magpie  
Quote: Originally posted by AvBaeyer  
I buy ether in aluminum bottles with a two piece pressure cap. I have never detected any leaking vapors with these bottles. No light exposure and no danger of broken bottles or poorly sealing bottle caps. I would NEVER buy ether delivered in glass or store it in glass. As for storage, a separate "solvent box" with a fairly tight closure kept in a cool place has been more than sufficient.

AvB


I have ether and pet ether in glass.


Ok you love chemistry and are good at it, but giving a solvent a name and calling it a pet is getting a bit strange ;), I know people used to have pet rocks as dad still has his LOL but pet ether?? OBSESSIONAL!




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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 03:23


I take my pet ether on a walk in the morning.
Pet. ether = petroleum ether.Use a dot.
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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 03:26


Pet ether is not a pet :D It stands for petroleum ether, which is a mix of alkanes with a certain boiling range (e.g. petroleum ether 40...60, or 60...90). These are nice quite inert non-polar solvents, useful for degreasing, but also a good replacement for the much more expensive hexane or heptane in many cases.

I store my ether in a glass bottle with a soft plastic cap and I put an Al-foil liner (cut from household aluminium foil) inside the cap to make it non-porous for the ether. The smell of ether around my bottle is only very faint.




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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 03:42


Looking at the wikipedia data page for diethyl ether https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diethyl_ether_(data_page)

ether in an open container (1 atm or 760mm Hg) boils at 34.6 C

at 56 C in a sealed bottle there would be an internal pressure of 2 atm
so the container would have to support an effective (gauge) pressure of 1 atm
not a problem.
(until you open the container !)

not a really hot summer here in central UK, but I have 100ml glass bottles of
ether, chloroform, methanol, ethanol, carbon disulfide and toluene on a shelf in my shed/lab,
so far no problems.

So I would say that diethyl ether deserves 'respect'
but a fear of (small quantities of) diethyl ether is irrational.

P.S. my shed has natural ventilation (not too good in the winter) so I'm not too concerned about gradual build up of vapours

[Edited on 17-8-2015 by Sulaiman]
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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 05:12


I keep my 1L bottles of solvent, including my lawn mower gasoline, in an outside shed away from the house. It has 2 small vents and I leave the door open on occasion.

However, I have some smaller glass bottles of 100ml or less of solvent for day use in my lab in the garage. I also have a gas hot water heater in my garage. :o

Almost every day in my community of ~ 200,000 population someone's house burns down accidentally.




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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 07:02


Quote: Originally posted by Magpie  
Almost every day in my community of ~ 200,000 population someone's house burns down accidentally.

That's a clear sign that either you need stop building houses out of wood, or increase the average intelligence of the inhabitants.




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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 10:45


Quote: Originally posted by aga  
Keep it in a fridge (= cold, no sunlight).

It is a dangerous thing to keep hanging around if you have no immediate use for it.

I've toyed with the idea of making ether a few times, however the risks are too great, and currently there would be no reward.


No.
Don't store it in the fridge unless you have a specified "spark proof" fridge. (unless you paid a lot of money for this feature, your fridge hasn't got it).

Someone kept some urine samples which had been extracted with (and thus were saturated with) ether in an ordinary fridge where I work.

The vapour leaked out mixed with air and the thermostat ignited it. the resulting explosion tore the door off its hinges and threw it across the room where it smashed a hole in the wall.

The flash point of ether is a lot lower than the temperature of a fridge.

Aga, sometimes you should wait till you sober up a bit before you post.

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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 10:51


Quote: Originally posted by FriedBrain  
I would label them off, not just for asthetics, but because storing chemicals in food bottles is kind of dangerous. The chance should not be there, that any want is aware of drinking it, there always some idiots out there, maybe you have sometimes thirsty guests visiting you? :D
I assumed this would be obvious, but it is still a good point. The bottle should be clearly labeled otherwise if the label is not sanded off. Although natural selection should apply if anyone decided to drink something in MY lab:D. As long as they were off my property before they keeled over:P



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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 18:43


Magpie:

In answer to your question: "What is a "two-piece pressure cap"?

Perhaps a wrong choice or terms. My aluminum ether bottles come with a plastic stopper which is pushed into the bottle mouth. A rubber gasket is between the lip of the stopper and the bottle top. Then a heavy plastic screw cap is used to hold the stopper in the bottle mouth. I guess it could be visualized as: bottle mouth-gasket-plug-screw cap. I hope this is clear.

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[*] posted on 17-8-2015 at 19:22


Yes, I see. Sounds like a fairly sophisticated closure system. It might be difficult to buy a bottle like that, specifically designed for ether & such.



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