Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Separating flammable chemicals

beta4 - 16-8-2020 at 00:35

I recently bought a small cabinet to store flammable chemicals separately from all my other reagents. However, I am not sure whether acids which are also flammable (such as formic and acetic) best fit in the flammables cabinet or the general reagents cabinet among other acids.

I also thought that storing acids in the flammable cabinets may rust other items, such as a couple of butane refill cans that I also stored in there. Would you be worried about that?

Prepic - 16-8-2020 at 01:11

I generally wouldn't consider formic acid and acetic acid to be flammable and I'd personally put them in the general reagents cabinet.

If you prefer to store them in the flammable cabinet, you can (I'd even go as far as to say should) store the bottle in a resealable sandwich bag to ensure any corrosive vapors are contained especially for mineral acids such as conc. hydrochloric acid. I don't believe formic acid and acetic acid will aggressively corrode other items in the surroundings but to err on the side of caution is always best :).

unionised - 16-8-2020 at 02:18

Fundamentally, two cabinets isn't enough.
It's a good idea to segregate strong oxidants too.
Formic acid and nitric acid don't play nicely together.

beta4 - 16-8-2020 at 02:53

Thanks for the replies.

@Prepic hydrochloric acid is stored among other acids in the general reagents cabinet, I never considered storing it among flammables. My doubt was mostly about formic acid, which is probably safer stored away from sulfuric acid, even if it may raise a rusting concern.

@unionised my general reagent cabinet has multiple shelves to separate chemicals.
At the bottom I store bulk liquids. There I keep a plastic box that separates acids (hydrochloric, sulfuric, phosphoric) from other liquid reagents and also serves to contain unlikely spills. Middle shelf is bulk solids (inorganic and organic, nonflammable), while top is bases and other nonflammable reagents in small quantities (<=100g / 100ml).

Now that the topic is open, I'd be curious to hear how other people separate their chemicals too.

Chemi Pharma - 16-8-2020 at 05:03

Quote: Originally posted by beta4  
Now that the topic is open, I'd be curious to hear how other people separate their chemicals too.


I separate mine like the pictures atached. In Cabinets, with two hoods working 24/24, closed room with a sprinkler. The low BP chemicals are stored apart at a refrigerator.

Cabinet I - Dangerous chemicals that the bottles are inside another plastic bottle. Eg. Thionyl chloride, methyl sulfate, potassium tert butoxide, sodium alkoxides, lithium, aluminum and sodium hydrides.

Cabinet II - Pharmaceutical chemical drugs imported from US, India and China.

Cabinet III - Chemicals inside 5 kg bags

Cabinet IV - Transition metals and transition metal salts

Cabinet V - reduction agents

Cabinet VI - Oxidant agents

Cabinet IX - Several other organic chemicals

Cabinet X - Alkaly and Earth Alkaly metals and metal salts

Cabinet XI - Mercury and it's salts, PTC's, aminoacids. indole and derivatives

Cabinet X - Chemicals inside 5 lts bottles

Cabinet XI - PH indicators

Cabinet XII - Organic Acids

Cabinet XIII - Inorganic acids

Cabinet XIV - Amines, ammonium salts and nitrogenous compounds

Cabinet XV - Organic Solvents

Cabinet XVI - Several other Organic chemicals

Cabinet XVII - Aldehydes, alcohols and ketones

Cabinet XVIII - Aromatic chemicals



Lab Storage II.jpg - 148kB Lab Storage.jpg - 173kB

CouchHatter - 16-8-2020 at 18:39

After finding this very nice pdf from Tennessee State Uni, I feel much better about my storage system. It lists lots of common chemicals, and even clearly addresses what can be done if you don't have 10 separate cabinets lying around.

Attachment: Chemical Storage Group System.pdf (628kB)
This file has been downloaded 474 times

DavidJR - 17-8-2020 at 03:46

What you should do is add a column to your inventory spreadsheet for flashpoint. Then, prioritize putting things with lower flashpoint into the flammables cabinet. Ideally everything with a flash point of below the hottest conceivable lab ambient temperature should go in a flammables cabinet.

I don't store formic/acetic acid in my flammables cabinet, but I also don't store them in the same box as my inorganic acids.

[Edited on 17-8-2020 by DavidJR]

beta4 - 29-8-2020 at 14:53

Quote: Originally posted by CouchHatter  
After finding this very nice pdf from Tennessee State Uni, I feel much better about my storage system. It lists lots of common chemicals, and even clearly addresses what can be done if you don't have 10 separate cabinets lying around.



That's an useful guide, thanks CouchHatter!
In the end I moved formic and acetic acid outside of the flammables cabinet, and I was pleased to discover that the way I stored my chemicals wasn't too dissimilar from the quoted guide. After reading it, however, I made some further improvements.