When incompatible chemicals are stored very closely in a chemical store, it may result in violent reactions such as fires, explosions and toxic release. Incorrect storage of incompatible chemicals is one of the most common causes of chemical accidents. It is important to ensure that any incompatible chemicals are stored at least 3 metres away from each other, and at least 5 metres away if there is a risk of a violent reaction. There are many sets of chemicals which should never be stored together. We have compiled a list of 10 of the most commonly used chemicals and the incompatible chemicals which should not be stored with them.
Chlorine is a common disinfectant, is widely used in swimming pools and leisure centres. Chlorine should not be stored with ammonia, acetylene, benzene, butadiene, hydrogen, any petroleum gases, sodium carbide and turpentine.
Acetone is often used to clean down surfaces in laboratories and manufacturing plants. Acetone should not be stored in a chemical store which houses bromine, chlorine, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, or hydrogen peroxide.
Iodine is a chemical used in schools, universities and several workplaces. Its primary uses are to test for the presence of starch and to serve as a disinfectant. It should not be stored with acetylene, ammonia and hydrogen.
4. H20 (Water)
Okay, so we know water isn’t exactly a chemical but it is a compund of two chemical substances – hydrogen and oxygen. It is a very commonly used substance in many environments and there are several incompatible chemicals which cannot be stored near water. These include, but are not limited to, acetyl chloride, alkaline and alkaline earth metals, barium peroxide, carbides, chromic acid, phosphorous oxychloride, phosphorous pentachloride, phosphorous pentoxide, sulfuric acid and sulfur trioxide.
5. Caustic Soda
Caustic soda (Sodium hydroxide) is commonly used in farming to treat feeds. It is also used in households for cleaning purposes as well as for several different uses within a manufacturing facility. Caustic soda should not be stored near any chemical acid in a chemical store.
6. Nitric Acid
Nitric acid has several different purposes but is commonly used in manufacturing and chemical laboratories to etch metal, as well as being a component of explosives and fertilisers. Nitric acid should be stored in a chemical store away from substances such as acetone, acetic acid, alcohol, chromic acid, aniline, hydrocyanic acid, hydrogen sulfide and any flammable substances.
7. Hydrogen Peroxide
This chemical is used for several different purposes. In the household, it is used as a cleaner and for treating wounds. It is used primarily in manufacturing in pulp and paper bleaching. It is also used in the manufacture of laundry detergents. Hydrogen peroxide should never be stored with copper, chromium, iron, most metals or their salts, alcohols, acetone, organic materials, aniline, nitromethane, flammable liquids, ammonia and oxidizing gases.
8. Zinc Powder
This substance is widely used in the manufacturing of many products including paint, cosmetics and batteries. It is also used as a reducing agent and for casting moulds. Zinc powder should not be stored near sulphur.
Mercury is used in products such as thermometers and barometers, as well as in fluorescent lamps and dental amalgams. Compounds of mercury are also used to develop certain medicines. Mercury should never be stored near acetylene, fulminic acid and ammonia.
Oxygen is used in metal cutting, to facilitate oxy-acetylene welding. It is also heavily used in the iron and steel industries, to smeld iron ores into steel. Oxygen is also used for a host of purposes in chemical manufacturing. It is used as a compound to create antifreeze and polyester primers and in several medical applications and in water treatment. Oxygen should be stored away from substances such as oils, grease and hydrogen and any flammable liquids, solids, or gases in a chemical store.
This list covers only some of the most commonly used chemicals and is not meant as a definitive list. To ensure safe storage of substances in your chemical store, also refer to the Material Safety Data Sheet. For information on storing flammable chemicals together, read this blog post.
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