Chemicals Storage Safety Guide: What Not to Store Together

Chemicals Storage Safety Guide: What Not to Store Together

What Chemicals Not to Store Together

Chemical reactions can happen any time one volatile substance is exposed to another — including in storage, how should chemicals be stored.

When chemicals are not correctly stored, reactions can happen unexpectedly and have dangerous consequences. They can result in toxic fumes, fires, and explosions, catching workers off guard when they are vulnerable to harm. As the Occupational Safety & Health Administration says, accidental release of chemicals "creates the possibility of disaster."

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "in 2017, 41 U.S. workers died on the job after a single episode of inhaling chemicals and chemical products." This is up from 34 deaths in 2016.


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Safe Storage Starts with Chemical Inventory

OSHA regulates how to use and store chemicals in workplaces safely. OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations and protocols are a blueprint for workplace safety.

The OSHA standard emphasizes the correct management of hazardous chemicals.

"For every highly hazardous chemical, PSM requires that employers compile information on chemical toxicity, permissible exposure limits, physical data, reactivity data, corrosivity data, thermal and chemical stability data, and hazardous effects associated with inadvertent mixing of chemicals that may occur," says the agency.

Creating an inventory of this information is essential to understanding how to store individual chemicals.


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Common Chemicals That Should Not Be Stored Together

Keeping track of how chemicals should be stored and which chemicals not to mix when storing can be complicated. That’s why we’ve compiled a tip sheet on the safe storage of chemicals commonly used on job sites. This quick summary highlights some chemical incompatibility for common substances many businesses, workplaces, and job sites use regularly. This list of reactive chemicals is not complete. Always consult a professional or conduct thorough research before storing any chemicals together or nearby each other.

Chlorine

Common uses:

  • • Antiseptics
  • • Plastics manufacturing
  • • Dyes
  • • Textiles
  • • Insecticides
  • • Solvents
  • • Paints

Chlorine should not be sorted or stored with:

According to the EPA, some of the items you should keep chlorine away from are:
  • • Water
  • • Tools that have come into contact with other substances
  • • Combustible or flammable materials

Acetone

Common uses:

  • • Plastic manufacturing
  • • In cosmetics and personal care products

Acetone should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Anything combustible or producing a spark, flame, or heat, since acetone is highly flammable
  • • Concentrated nitric and sulfuric acid mixtures
  • • Hydrogen peroxide

Sulfuric Acid

Common uses:

  • • Used in the manufacture of phosphate fertilizer, gasoline, inorganic chemicals, soaps and detergents, and dyes

Sulfuric should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Chlorates
  • • Perchlorates
  • • Permanganates

Hydrogen Peroxide

Common uses:

  • • Used as an antimicrobial agent and an oxidizing agent
  • • On food processing equipment and in pasteurizers

Hydrogen peroxide should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Copper
  • • Chromium
  • • Iron
  • • Most metals or their salts
  • • Any flammable liquid (like alcohols or acetone)
  • • Combustible materials
  • • Aniline
  • • Nitromethane

Bleach (Chlorine Bleach)

Common uses:

  • • As a disinfectant
  • • To disinfect water
  • • To disinfect food production equipment, food preparation surfaces, and food-transportation containers

Should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Ammonia

Ammonia

Common uses:

  • • Fertilizer
  • • Refrigerant gas
  • • Manufacturing of plastics, explosives, textiles, pesticides, dyes, and other chemicals
  • • Household and industrial cleaning solutions

Ammonia should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Mercury
  • • Halogens
  • • Calcium hypochlorite
  • • Hydrofluoric acid

Sodium peroxide

Common uses:
  • • Bleaching agent
  • • Disinfectant
  • • Laboratory chemical
  • • Chemical manufacturing

Sodium peroxide should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Ethyl or methyl alcohol
  • • Glacial acetic acid
  • • Acetic anhydride
  • • Benzaldehyde
  • • Carbon disulfide glycerin
  • • Ethylene glycol
  • • Ethyl acetate
  • • Methyl acetate
  • • Furfural

Acetylene

Common uses:

  • • Welding
  • • Glass manufacturing
  • • Production of solvents and alkenes

Acetylene should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Oxygen
  • • Chlorine
  • • Bromine
  • • Copper
  • • Fluorine
  • • Silver
  • • Mercury

Sodium hydroxide (lye, soda, or caustic soda)

Common uses of sodium hydroxide:

  • • Manufacturing of soaps, rayon, paper, explosives, dyestuffs, and petroleum products
  • • Processing cotton fabric, laundering, and bleaching
  • • Metal cleaning and processing
  • • Oxide coating
  • • Commonly found in commercial drain and/or oven cleaners

Sodium hydroxide should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Food and agricultural feedstuffs
  • • Strong acids and metals
  • • Water or moisture

Sodium hypochlorite (AKA chlorine bleach)

Common uses:

  • • As a disinfectant
  • • To disinfect water
  • • To disinfect food production equipment, food preparation surfaces, and food-transportation containers

Sodium hypochlorite should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Ammonia

Ethanol

Common uses:

  • • Fuel
  • • Hand sanitizer
  • • Paints, lacquers, and varnish

Ethanol Should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Combustibles
  • • Ethanol should be stored in a Flammable Material Storage Cabinet

Nitric acid

Common uses:
  • • Metallurgy
  • • Etching steel
  • • Rubber chemicals

Nitric acid should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Acetic acid
  • • Acetone
  • • Alcohol
  • • Aniline
  • • Chromic acid
  • • Hydrocyanic
  • • Acid
  • • Hydrogen sulfide
  • • Flammable liquids
  • • Flammable gases
  • • Copper
  • • Brass
  • • Any heavy metals

Acetyl chloride

Common uses:

  • • Manufacturing pesticides
  • • Pharmaceutical manufacturing

Acetyl chloride should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Alcohols
  • • Sodium Hydroxide
  • • Potassium Hydroxide
  • • Nitrates
  • • Chlorine
  • • Bromine
  • • Powdered metals

Chromic acid

Common uses of chromic acid:

  • • Anodizing
  • • Ceramic glazes
  • • Metal cleaning
  • • Inks
  • • Paints

Chromic acid should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Flammables
  • • Organic solvents
  • • Combustible materials

Acetic acid

Common uses of acetic acid:

  • • Laboratory reagent
  • • Engraving
  • • Textile industries

Acetic acid should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Chromic acid
  • • Nitric acid
  • • Hydroxyl compounds
  • • Ethylene glycol
  • • Perchloric acid
  • • Peroxides
  • • Permanganates

Oxidizers

What oxidizers do:

  • • Add oxygen to fuels (combustibles and flammables) to increase burning

Oxidizers should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Fuels
  • • Flammables and combustibles

Alkalis

What alkalis are:

  • • Soft, shiny metals with low melting points

Alkalis should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Water
  • • Exposure to air

Flammables

What Flammables are:

  • • Substances that burn easily and catch fire

Flammables should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Open flame
  • • Ignition source(s)

Water

Common uses of water:

  • • Heating & air conditioning
  • • Agriculture
  • • Industrial processes

Water should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Alkali metals
  • • Hydrides
  • • Halogenating agents
  • • Chlorosilanes
  • • Sulfuric acid
  • • Sodium hydroxide

Oxygen

Common uses of oxygen:

  • • Welding
  • • Oxidizing agent
  • • Copper and nickel smelting
  • • Healthcare

Oxygen should not be sorted or stored with:

  • • Combustibles
  • • Direct sunlight
  • • Water & moisture

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Sources

  • http://www.cfo.pitt.edu/pexpress/documents/EthanolFAQ.pdf
  • https://chlorine.americanchemistry.com/Chlorine/BleachFAQs/
  • https://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele017.html
  • https://ehs.stanford.edu/reference/information-alkali-metals
  • https://ehs.utexas.edu/training/oh101/?slide=29
  • https://ehs.utexas.edu/training/oh101/?slide=31
  • https://nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/1718.pdf
  • https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/962#section=Reactivity-Profile
  • https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/962#section=Uses
  • https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/977#section=Handling-and-Storage
  • https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/977#section=Uses
  • https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Acetic-acid#section=Uses
  • https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Acetylene#section=Uses
  • https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Chromic-acid
  • https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Nitric-acid#section=Uses
  • https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Sodium-hydroxide
  • https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/acetone/
  • https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/acetone/#safety-information
  • https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/chlorine-bleach-sodium-hypochlorite-solution/
  • https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/ethanol/
  • https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/hydrogen-peroxide/
  • https://www.dmme.virginia.gov/dmm/PDF/TRAINING/REFRESHER/MaintenanceRepairTopics/AR-oxygen-acetyleneuseandsafety.pdf
  • https://www.ehs.ucsb.edu/files/docs/ls/factsheets/SafeStorage_FS7.pdf
  • https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-11/documents/spalert.pdf
  • https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/sulfuric-acid-plants-new-source-performance-standards-nsps
  • https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/ammonia_tech.htm
  • https://www.nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/0013.pdf
  • https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/sr/dohs/Documents/General_Chemical_Storage_Compatibility_Chart.pdf
  • https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3512.pdf
  • https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3909.pdf
  • https://www.osha.gov/process-safety-management
  • https://www.uab.edu/ehs/images/docs/chem/CommonLabChemicalsThatShouldNOTBeStoredTogether.pdf
  • https://www3.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/reg_actions/reregistration/fs_G-67_1-Dec-93.pdf
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