Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are intended to provide you with general guidance on how to safely work with a specific class of chemical or hazard. This SOP is generic in nature. It addresses the use and handling of substances by hazard class only. In some instances multiple SOPs may be applicable for a specific chemical (i.e. both the SOPs for flammable liquids and carcinogens would apply to benzene). If you have any questions concerning the applicability of any items listed in this procedure, contact EH&S 1-2356 or the Principal Investigator.


Distillation of organic compounds, especially large amounts of solvents, represents certain hazards associated with higher risk of skin burns due to elevated temperatures, and higher risk of fire in case of distilling flammable liquids (see flammable liquids sop). Another potential hazard is exposure to large volumes of organic solvents.




Personnel: Wash hands and arms with soap and water following any skin contact with solvents to be distilled.



Protection: Eye protection in the form of safety glasses must be worn at all times when carrying out distillation. Ordinary (prescription) glasses do not provide adequate protection. Adequate safety glasses must meet rigorous tests and safety standards according to ANSI Z.87.1 and must be equipped with side shields. Safety glasses with side shields do not provide protection from splashes, therefore, when the potential for splash hazard exists, other eye protection or face protection must be worn.


Eyewash: Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to organic solvents, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use. Bottle type eyewash stations are not acceptable.



Gloves: Gloves should be worn when handling organic solvents. Disposable latex or nitrile gloves provide adequate protection against accidental hand contact with small quantities of most laboratory chemicals. Lab workers should contact EH&S 1-2356 for advice on chemical resistant glove selection when direct or prolonged contact with hazardous chemicals is anticipated.


Assessment: Hazard assessment for distillation work should thoroughly address the issues of proper use and handling, fire safety, chemical toxicity, storage and spill response.


Apparel: Lab coats, closed toed shoes and long sleeved clothing should be worn when handling organic solvents. Additional protective clothing should be worn if the possibility of skin contact is likely.


Shielding: Safety shielding is required any time there is a risk of explosion, splash hazard or a highly exothermic reaction. Portable shields, which provide protection to all laboratory occupants, are acceptable.



Shower: A safety or drench shower should be immediately accessible at all times when distilling organic solvents


Labels: Containers: All distillation flasks must be clearly labeled with the correct chemical name. Handwritten labels are acceptable; chemical formulas and structural formulas are not acceptable.



Storage: The storage of flammable and combustible liquids after distillation in a laboratory, shop or building area must be kept to the minimum needed for research and/or operations. If more than 5 gallons of flammables are present outside of safety cans per 100 square feet of area, a flammable-liquids storage cabinet is required.


Where feasible (if the quality of the solvent will not be adversely affected) transfer flammable liquids from glass bottles into metal safety cans.

Spills: Please See Spill Cleanup Procedures



Protection: Evacuated glassware can implode and eject flying glass, and splattering chemicals. Vacuum work involving flammable liquids must be conducted in a fume hood, glove box or isolated in an acceptable manner.


Mechanical vacuum pumps must be protected using cold traps and, where appropriate, filtered to prevent particulate release. The exhaust for the pumps must be vented into an exhaust hood. Vacuum pumps should be rated for use with flammable liquids.



Disposal: All waste shall be placed in closed containers, properly labeled and moved to the Hazardous Waste Accumulation Structure (south west corner of SGM). Notify Roger Clark of Waste to be picked up from the Hazardous Waste Accumulation area.