Chemical Storage

Tips for Chemical Storage:

Many laboratories find it convenient to store their chemicals alphabetically.  This may seem like good lab organization, but it can lead to incompatible hazardous chemicals being stored together.   For example, say we store all the chemicals starting with "S" together.  What usually happens in this situation is Sulfuric Acid (Strong Acid) gets stored on the same shelf or in the same cabinet as Sodium Nitrite (Strong Oxidizer).   If one of these containers leaked (or the shelf falls), an acid gas could result as a reaction between the two chemicals.  Consult the chemical's MSDS for identifying hazards and compatibility issues. See below for tips on chemical storage.  Click here‌‌ for the Chemical Segregation Tip Sheet.

  • Separate Solids from Liquids (preferably Organic from Inorganic).  Note: Within the solids group, separate metals from non-metals.  Keep metals away from water and moisture to prevent corrosion or reaction.
  • Separate Non-hazardous from Hazardous
  • Separate Toxic from Irritants (Non-hazardous).  Note:  Irritants are usually denoted by a black "X" on the bottle. Toxic are labeled with a skull and crossbones symbol.  Toxic chemicals should be stored away from sink and sanitary areas.
  • Separate Flammable liquids (or solids) from all other Hazardous Chemicals. Note: If you have more than 10 gallons of flammable liquid in your lab they must be store in flammable storage cabinet.  Flammable liquids can also be stored in cabinets underneath fume hoods.
  • Separate Corrosives from remaining hazardous chemicals including flammables.  Note: Among the corrosives, separate acids from bases.  Acids and bases can be stored in the same cabinet as long as they are stored in secondary containment separate from each other.  Corrosives can be stored in cabinets underneath fume hoods (usually in the cabinet provided on the right). 
  • Separate Reactive/Oxidizers from remaining hazardous chemicals.  Note:  Oxidizers can be stored on shelves, preferably below eye level.  Some oxidizers can be stored in explosion-proof refrigerators to prevent peroxide formation.  Water reactive chemicals should be stored clear of sink or any areas of moisture             

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