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Author: Subject: Can I store nitric acid safely?
jgourlay
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Can I store nitric acid safely?

Some of you have responded to my earlier posts, for which I thank you. As you know from them, I'm a homeschooler, but this is off the topic of my immediate homeschooling needs.

After browsing the forum and poking around on line I've come to the conclusion that nitric acid is both useful and likely to be banned from private purchase. I don't need it now, don't really want it now. But I am looking 3 or 4 years ahead and can see where it will be useful to have around for the science curriculum.

So, I want to get some now, but I am concerned. Many years ago, back when I was using a mix of nitric/sulphuric in conjunction with jewelry etching of gold and silver, I had a gallon. I kept this gallon in my garage in the 1 gallon plastic jug in which it was shipped. Note that I am in houston and temperatures here range from "hotter 'n hell" on up to 110 deg in the shade.

I went on a 2 week vacation, and came back to find both the nitric acid jug cracked and empty, and $4000 worth of high end wood working tools covered with an impressively horrific layer of rust. Now, because I have little kids, I have two choices of storage locations. 1. in a shed which I can lock, and which can get up to 120 degrees for days on end. 2. in a refrigerator in this shed. That fridge, however, is used to store other things I'm sure I don't want to store with the acid, such as Tung Oil, Boiled Linseed Oil, and various varnishes. I snapped enough now to realize that I should have transferred that original gallon to a glass jug. But do these glass jugs hold that pressure that I assume will develop as the acid wants to outgas in the outdoor temperatures? Is it safe to store the acid in a (plastic lined) refrigerator with other non-food items? The fridge, by the way, does have a freezer section-but it's quite skinny. If that's safe, does the nitric acid bottle sit above the sulfuric acid bottle or vice versa? Btw, one application I'm looking forward to now is helping my budding-photographer-son prepare his own photographic "plates" from egg whites, silver, nitric acid, et. al. and making film for some cameras I inherited from my dad and for which film is no longer available. Jor International Hazard Posts: 950 Registered: 21-11-2007 Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood If you buy it in a amber glass bottle with a good cap from a reputable supplier and keep it cool, I think you can keep it for a long time. Keeping it in the fridge is possible, but in time your fridge might start to rust. I have a liter of 63% nitric from Acros, and it's in a brown bottle, with a large red cap, with some plastic inside. I keep it quite cool, and it's still completely colorless. pantone159 International Hazard Posts: 570 Registered: 27-6-2006 Location: Austin, TX, USA Member Is Offline Mood: desperate for shade I live in a similar climate (Austin), and I really wouldn't consider storing anything in a non-cooled environment. HydroCarbon Hazard to Self Posts: 77 Registered: 7-7-2008 Location: Anytown, USA Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood Be sure if it's in the fridge/freezer the liquid isn't touching the cap as it could corrode. I would keep it in the fridge or in a locked cabinet in the house to keep it away from the kids. Also towards Jor's post that said the fridge can rust. Is it really possible for the molecules to escape a tightly sealed bottle? Through the cap? [Edited on 9-7-2008 by HydroCarbon] woelen Super Administrator Posts: 7764 Registered: 20-8-2005 Location: Netherlands Member Is Offline Mood: interested yes, even thick caps are somewhat permeable for acids. I have HCl and HNO3 and around those bottles I always see a kind of 'frost' due to escaping gas. This 'frost' is very corrosive and makes iron tools rusty within a few weeks. The art of wondering makes life worth living... Want to wonder? Look at https://woelen.homescience.net ProChem Harmless Posts: 41 Registered: 9-6-2008 Location: Union Beach, NJ. USA Member Is Offline Mood: Cynical I am beginning to stock my home lab with reagents and the acids I have are stored in 1/2 gallon plastic coated glass jugs and the jugs are never more than 3/4 full. I would not store any acid in a plastic container unless it was teflon. If I had to use plastic I would put the jug in a plastic pail and cover the jug uo to the neck in vermiculite. My garage is connected to the house so to keep the Mrs. Happy I am building a storage box out back (looks like a big dog house). jgourlay Hazard to Others Posts: 249 Registered: 9-7-2008 Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood Thanks for the replies gents. I'll keep in the fridge, and instead of 1 big gallon jug, I'll use 4 or 5 smaller glass containers. Less chance of a slip and "oops" and less horror if that happens. Are there better ways than glass funnel and "glug glug glug" to transfer the acid from the big jar to the small ones? pantone159 International Hazard Posts: 570 Registered: 27-6-2006 Location: Austin, TX, USA Member Is Offline Mood: desperate for shade  Quote: Originally posted by jgourlayAre there better ways than glass funnel and "glug glug glug" to transfer the acid from the big jar to the small ones? See this thread re use of a glass stirring rod to aid in pouring to avoid drips... http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=9889 Also keep a box of baking soda (NaHCO3) in the fridge, it ought to help absorb acid fumes. DJF90 International Hazard Posts: 2266 Registered: 15-12-2007 Location: At the bench Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood A glass stirring rod wont help much for a gallon A glass funnel is probably the best way to do it, just be careful, wear goggles and gloves etc, and when the kids arent around, just incase you spill it. The_Davster A pnictogen Posts: 2861 Registered: 18-11-2003 Member Is Offline Mood: . I have the opposite problem, my acids would freeze if kept outside! Only HCl is safe from freezing in the winter. I therefore keep almost all chemicals indoors. The acids are kept in a lockable wooden cabinet with bottles of baking soda around them incase of a spill, and to absorb fumes. Hinges in this wooden cabinet are covered in ducttape as the hinges in the last cabinet rusted very badly. S.C. Wack bibliomaster Posts: 2419 Registered: 7-5-2004 Location: Cornworld, Central USA Member Is Offline Mood: Enhanced I have used plastic coolers of all sizes for storage in the past. If you want cooling, well I guess$80 is a little pricey for one of those thermoelectric coolers...I seem to recall that the one that I have was a lot cheaper than that as bought 5 years ago.

I've wondered about the diffusion of things like HCl through plastic, not the cap - hardware store bottles themselves.
pantone159
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 Quote: Originally posted by S.C. WackI've wondered about the diffusion of things like HCl through plastic, not the cap - hardware store bottles themselves.

I used to keep a plastic bottle of hardware store 'muriatic acid' under the sink, back before I realized much the fumes corroded stuff. After a year or two, I noticed that the bottle was getting chalky, and stuff was starting to rust, so I got rid of it, and use only glass bottles for the stuff now.
jgourlay
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 Quote: Originally posted by The_Davster I have the opposite problem, my acids would freeze if kept outside! Only HCl is safe from freezing in the winter. I therefore keep almost all chemicals indoors. The acids are kept in a lockable wooden cabinet with bottles of baking soda around them incase of a spill, and to absorb fumes. Hinges in this wooden cabinet are covered in ducttape as the hinges in the last cabinet rusted very badly.

woelen

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Freezing itself is not bad for the acid, but the water in the acid may expand so much that the bottles crack.

The art of wondering makes life worth living...
Want to wonder? Look at https://woelen.homescience.net
The_Davster
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Exactly, I was unable to find expansion/compression data for freezing acids, so I decided not to risk it. 2.5L of nitric or sulfuric in the garage would make a very bad day.
Keep in mind in my location in Canada, things that will not freeze for you may freeze for me.

[Edited on 14-7-2008 by The_Davster]

Engager
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Highly concentrated or anhydrous nitric acid is unstable and decomposes slowly under ordinary conditions, seals must not be tight because decomposition products will generate pressure and bottle will finaly crack and spill acid all around. However this acid can be safely stored in glass container with tight glass lid in deep freeze section of home refrigirator. Decomposition is slowed greatly at this conditions, and NO2 gas cannot generate pressure because it liquifies at this temps. Liquid NO2 reacts with water contaminants in acid to form more nitric acid, so some kind of constant equilibrium exist. I stored concentrated HNO3 in this way for more then 2 years without any problems and degree of decomposition was low (very slight yellow color).

70% nitric acid and below can be stored forever in dark glass bottles with plastic lid, without any decomposition at ordinary temperature.

[Edited on 15-7-2008 by Engager]

Picric-A
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I had a 1L bottle of i think 52% Nitric acid. I thought at this concentration it wouldnt release fumes. wrong. it eventually ate up the plastic coated paper lining in the lid. (considering this was the bottle i bought it in from some hypodermic supplier.) and after a while the nitric acid was contaminated with crud.
My soloution was to buy a 25m roll of PTFE tape for about £1 and put it on the tip of the bottle then screw the lid on it again.
It worked wonderfully, about 5 months on and no corrosion.!

[Edited on 18-7-2008 by Picric-A]
jgourlay
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 Quote: Originally posted by Engager Highly concentrated or anhydrous nitric acid is unstable and decomposes slowly under ordinary conditions, seals must not be tight because decomposition products will generate pressure and bottle will finaly crack and spill acid all around. However this acid can be safely stored in glass container with tight glass lid in deep freeze section of home refrigirator. Decomposition is slowed greatly at this conditions, and NO2 gas cannot generate pressure because it liquifies at this temps. Liquid NO2 reacts with water contaminants in acid to form more nitric acid, so some kind of constant equilibrium exist. I stored concentrated HNO3 in this way for more then 2 years without any problems and degree of decomposition was low (very slight yellow color). 70% nitric acid and below can be stored forever in dark glass bottles with plastic lid, without any decomposition at ordinary temperature. [Edited on 15-7-2008 by Engager]

Engager: thanks.
BlackDragon2712
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Hey guys, I have a problem. I'm new to nitric acid and the last week I bought one liter of 68% acid but today I noticed that in the surroundings of the bottle there was like some kind of liquid with a smell of chlorine... the nitric acid came in a plastic bottle. I bought today a reagent amber bottle and I wanted to know if storing the nitric acid there would be enough to store it for like a year?

btw I don't know if I should be asking this in here... sry if I shouldn't, I didn't know
thesmug
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Some nitrogen compounds smell like chlorine but I don't have any idea what that could be (maybe the plastic reacted). Anyway storing in a glass bottle should (ideally) last forever.

Good eyes
Zyklon-A
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The plastic likely contains chlorine, but I doubt it could be liberated.
Glass will never deteriorate, but what's the lid made out of? If not Teflon, or ground glass, you might want to seal it with Teflon.

BlackDragon2712
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It is made out of ground glass... the weird thing is that the nitric acid came in a HDPE bottle and as far as I know nitric acid will not react with that... maybe it was the polymer of the lid with which it reacted? Idk but anyway tomorrow I'll transfer the acid and clean the area, it wasn't very much but there's a soft smell similar to chlorine there and I have no other reagent in that location so I know it couldn't have been anything else...
Rogeryermaw
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i routinely store ~200 ml of fuming HNO3 in an amber glass bottle in my freezer for up to 4-5 months or until i can afford other reagents that i can use with nitric. even around -10 it still builds up pressure. i'm not sure where the post is, but i remember woelen recommending venting your nitric bottles every couple of weeks or so. i have done so religiously since i read his post and have never had a problem.
Zyklon-A
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Yeah. It is generally advised to vent often and keep the bottle filled only half way to allow plenty of room for gasous built-ups.

zirconiumiodide
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Yeah i agree. When i first made Nitric Acid by bubbling NO2 through Hydrogen Peroxide i thought a few hours would be enough to vent it. But after storing for just a couple of hours upon removal of the top i could here fizzing and gas was evolved. The only time i smelt NO2 during the whole procedure of making NA! I vented often for a few days. After that it was fine - but still vent once a month or so.
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 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Fundamentals » Chemistry in General » Can I store nitric acid safely? 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