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Author: Subject: Old ether bottle - open under water?

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[*] posted on 21-8-2017 at 22:42
Old ether bottle - open under water?

Hello everyone,

I used to be a hobby chemist some years ago but have since long stopped. Unfortunately I have found an old bottle 6-7 years of BHT stabilised ether. Its in a dark amber bottle and has been in a completely dark cabinet for 5 years. Prior to that it was opened a few times and at most 200mL was removed.
I am a little worried as I simply cannot dispose of this professionally. This will costs me loads of money and might get me into legal trouble.

I figured the risk of opening the bottle is really low, but how low I cannot determine.

garage chemist and Nicodem are making valid points. however, imagine the worst case scenario where some peroxides are present under the cap. would opening the bottle under water (large bucket) prevent an inferno? Theres only 200-300 ml of air in the bottle (which is of low oxygen content due to both the heavy ether vapour and its consumption in peroxide formation). my hypothesis is that a small explosion under cold water will not cause a full blown fire. Or it will at least not create an explosion but a more controlled fire when the ether surfaces. Am I correct?

Other option would be to find a really sharp syringe with needle and inject ferrous sulfate solution via the top of the plastic thread. But then again, would punctioring the bottle of the cap with a metal needle be dangerous?

If you have other suggestions, these are ofcourse welcome!

hope you can help! thank you!
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lab constructor

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[*] posted on 22-8-2017 at 03:05

Quote: Originally posted by ChemiChemism  

If you have other suggestions, these are ofcourse welcome!
hope you can help! thank you!

Take the bottle to a remote field where you cannot be seen or heard. Step back 100 feet. Shoot the bottle with a shot gun.

The single most important condition for a successful synthesis is good mixing - Nicodem
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Super Administrator

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[*] posted on 22-8-2017 at 03:18

I would not worry too much about this. As I wrote in that old 2008 thread, ether is an OTC chemical in NL. It still is and can still be purchased in drugstores. It is used for degreasing by the general public. Never ever did we have one exploding bottle of ether. If ether really had the risk of exploding on opening the screwcap of the bottle, then it certainly would not be sold to the general public. The bottles in which it is sold are glass bottles with a plastic cap and a very thin Al-foil liner in the cap. Available bottles are 100 ml and 1 l. Such bottles can be stowed away for years by the general public and be forgotten, to be used again when something needs to be degreased again, which can be years later.

Just to make it less scary for you, put the bottle in a big tub (30 liters or so), full of cold water, such that the bottle can be completely immersed. Open it, while it is standing upright. Some water may be sucked in if the water is cold, some air/vapor may bubble out if the water is warm. Next, on a breezy day I would bring the bottle outside and slowly pour all the ether on a towel in order to let it evaporate. It is nearly non-toxic and not a burden for the environment.


An even better option is to find someone near you who does home chemistry and could be made happy with this bottle of ether!

[Edited on 22-8-17 by woelen]

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International Hazard

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[*] posted on 22-8-2017 at 11:20

Another answer is to build a bonfire somewhere remote, put the bottle in the middle of it, light the fire and go away.
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[*] posted on 22-8-2017 at 18:28

Well, the Ether IS stabilized. Meaning, it is supposed to be OK in storage.

Still, it has been a while.

If you are nervous, don't do it by hand; use the method the fire department uses.

Magpie has already proposed it........Pick a nice wet day, take that bottle to a remote area...... And, put a bullet through it!
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[*] posted on 25-8-2017 at 05:04

If you post roughly where you live someone may be willing to help you dispose of it. There are multiple ways to deal with it. Unless there are dry white solids somewhere in or on the container, it is likely not a danger. If there are white solids near the top or on the cap, or on the bottom of the liquid, that would be signs of danger. If the liquid is clear and no solids present, I would just pour it out somewhere away from anything and let it evaporate, or use the bullet procedure.
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Eastern European Lady of Mad Science

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[*] posted on 6-9-2017 at 22:04

Better rebottle the ether in a fresh bottle and sell it to someone. There are people for whom destroying useful reagents such as ether is tantamount to blasphemy.

Smells like ammonia....
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[*] posted on 7-9-2017 at 08:49

Seems to me that bottles of solvents are sealed not by the threads, but by a septum in the top of the cap, or by the top of the cap itself.

If the septum or cap top wasn't sealed right, you wouldn't have a bottle of ether after all this time, it would have evaporated.

So if the top of the bottle is still sealed, the peroxides, if there are any, should have formed inside, not on the threads.
Any ether that got on the threads when the cap was off would have evaporated quickly and had no chance to form peroxides.

Aren't these peroxides fairly soluble in the ether? If so how about leaving the bottle upside down for a while to dissolve any that might have deposited under the cap?

Also, if I'm wrong and there could be ether on the threads, that would still be outside the septum and accessible to the environment around it, so you could always place the bottle cap-down in a container of something appropriate to decompose any peroxides there safely. You mentioned ferrous sulfate.

But if you aren't going to salvage the ether I like the shotgun idea suggested earlier.
For non-shotgun-owning chemists you can always just throw rocks at it from a distance, or throw the bottle really hard at some hard surfaced target.
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