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Incompatible chemicals

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Storage of Reactive Chemicals

Some chemicals react violently when they come into contact with each other and must not be stored together. Mixing of incompatible chemicals can form an explosive mixture and cause damage or injury to property and personnel. Incompatible bottles of wastes should be stored separately. The objective is to avoid accidents in the laboratory.

See table below for the possible reactions that may occur due to impropper storage of chemicals.



Incompatible with

Acetic acid Chromium oxide, nitric acid, perchloric acid, peroxides, permanganates, alcohol, ethylene glycol
Acetic anhydride Hydroxyl-containing compounds e.g. ethylene glycol, perchloric acid
Acetone Concentrated nitric acid and sulphuric acid mixtures, hydrogen peroxide
Acetylene Chlorine, bromine, fluorine, copper, silver, mercury
Activated carbon Calcium hypochlorite, oxidizing agents
Alkali metals Water, carbon tetrachloride and other halogenated alkanes, carbon dioxide, halogens. (Do not use water or foam extinguishers for fires involving these metals Use the appropriate class D extinguisher.
Aluminium All oxidizing agents, acids, alkalis, halogenated hydrocarbons, peroxides
Aluminium alkyls water
Ammonia, liquid or gas Mercury (e.g. in pressure gauges), chlorine, calcium hypochlorite, iodine, bromine, hydrogen fluoride
Ammonium nitrate Acids, powdered metals, flammable liquids, chlorates, nitrates, sulfur, fine-particulate organic or combustible materials
Aniline Nitric acid, hydrogen peroxide
Arsenic materials Any reducing agent
Azides Acids
Bromine see chlorine
Calcium oxide Water
Carbon activated Calcium hypochlorite, other oxidants
Chlorine Ammonia, acetylene, butadiene, butane, methane, propane, hydrogen, petroleum benzine, benzene, powdered metals
Chlorates Ammonium salts, acids, powdered metals, sulfur, fine-particulate organic or combustible substances
Chromium (V1) oxide, chromic acid Acetic acid, naphthalene, camphor, glycerol, petroleum benzine, alcohols, flammable liquids
Copper Acetylene, hydrogen peroxide
Cumene hydroperoxide Acids, both organic and inorganic
Cyanides Acids
Flammable liquids Ammonium nitrate, chromium (VI) oxide, hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, sodium peroxide, halogens, chromic acid.
Fluorine Extremely aggressive; store separately! Isolate from everything!
Hydrazine Hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, any other oxidant
butane, propane, benzene etc.
Fluorine, chlorine, bromine, chromium (VI) oxide, sodium peroxide
Hydrogen fluoride Ammonia (laboratory gas or solutions)
Hydrogen peroxide Copper, chromium, iron, metals and metal salts, alcohols, acetone, organic substances, aniline, nitromethane, combustible substances (solid or liquid)
Hydrogen sulphide Fuming nitric acid, oxidizing gases
Hypochlorites Acids, activated carbon
Iodine Acetylene, ammonia (laboratory gas or solutions)
Mercury Acetylene, ammonia
Nitrates and nitrites Acids
Nitric acid Acetic acid, aniline, chromium (VI) oxide, prussic acid, hydrogen sulfide, flammable liquids and gases
Nitroparaffins Inorganic bases, amines
Oxalic acid Silver, mercury, mercury salts
Perchloric acid Acetic anhydride, bismuth and its alloys, alcohols, paper, wood, grease. oil, (all organics)
Peroxides, organic Acids (organic and inorganic), avoid friction, store cold.
Phosphorus Sulfur, compounds containing oxygen, e.g. chlorates, air, oxygen
Phosphorus pentoxide Alcohols, strong bases, water
Potassium Carbon tetrachloride,carbon dioxide, water
Potassium chlorate see chlorate
Potassium perchlorate see chlorate
Potassium permanganate Glycerol, ethylene glycol, benzaldehyde, sulfuric acid
Silver Acetylene, oxalic acid tartaric acid, ammonium compounds
Sodium see alkali metals
Sodium peroxide Methanol, ethanol, glacial acetic acid, acetic anhydride, benzaldehyde, carbon disulfide, glycerol, ethylene glycol, ethyl acetate, methyl acetate, furfural
Sulphides Acids
Sulphuric acid Potassium chlorate, potassium perchlorate, potassium permanganate
sulphur Metals, all oxidizing agents
Zinc All oxidizing agents, acids, alkalis, halogenated hydrocarbons, peroxides

Reactions of incompatible chemicals

Chemicals Stored Together Possible Reaction
1. Acetic acid & Acetaldehyde Small amounts of acetic acid will cause the acetaldehyde to polymerize, releasing heat.
2. Acids & cyanide salts or soln Generate highly toxic hydrogen cyanide gas
3. Acids & sulphide salts or soln Generate highly toxic hydrogen sulphide gas
4. Acids & Bleach Generate highly toxic chlorine gas
5. Acetic anhydride & Acetaldehyde Reaction can be violently explosive
6. Aluminum metal & ammonium nitrate A potential explosive.
7. Aluminum & bromine vapor Aluminum foil reacts with bromine vapor at room temperature and incandesces
8. Ammonia &bleach Toxic chloramine gas released
9. Ammonia vapor & bromine vapor Unstable nitrogen tribromide is formed, explosion may result.
10. Ammonium nitrate & acetic acid A mixture may result in ignition, especially if acetic acid is concentrated
11. Cupric sulfide & cadmium chlorate Will explode on contact
12. Hydrogen peroxide & acetic acid Explosion with exposure to heat
13. Hydrogen peroxide & ferrous sulfide Forms a vigorous, highly exothermic reaction
14. Hydrogen peroxide & lead II or IV oxide Violent, possibly explosive reaction
15. Hydrogen peroxide & sulphuric acid May spontaneously detonate
16. Lead perchlorate & methyl alcohol Forms an explosive mixture if agitated
17. Lead sulfide & hydrogen peroxide Vigorous, potentially explosive reaction
18. Mercury II nitrate & methanol May form mercury fulminate - an explosive
19. Nitric acid & alcohol or organic solvnts May result in fire
20. Nitric acid & phosphorus Phosphorus burns spontaneously in the presence of nitric acid
Permanganate & alcohol or glycerol or organic solvents Result in fire, may be delayed.
22. Potassium cyanide & potassium peroxide A potentially-explosive mixture if heated
23. Silver salts & ammonia with strong alkali Generate explosive unstable solid.
24. Sodium nitrate & sodium thiosulfate< A mixture of the dry materials can result in an explosion.
25. Sodium metal & water Boils and form flammable hydrogen gas.
26. Potassium metal & water Generate flammable hydrogen gas.

References :
1. Merck chemical company.
2. Chemical Safety Office, Risk Management Department, University of Vermont.
3. Hazards in the Chemical Laboratory, 4th. edition. 1986. Bretherick.

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