Reactive Solids


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.


Reactive solids are chemicals that react vigorously with moisture or oxygen or other substances. The most common reactive solids include sodium, potassium and lithium metals; acid anhydrides and acid chlorides.




Personnel:         Wash hands and arms with soap and water following any skin contact with reactive solids.


Area:                Carefully clean work area after use.


Equipment:        Decontaminate vacuum pumps or other contaminated equipment (glassware) before removing them from the area.



Protection:      Eye protection in the form of safety glasses must be worn at all times when handling reactive solids.  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 reactive solids, 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.


Fume hood:     Many reactive solids will liberate hydrogen when they react with water.  The use of a fume hood is recommended to prevent the buildup of combustible gases.


Gloves:           Gloves should be worn when handling reactive solids.  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 of work involving reactive solids should address proper use and handling techniques, fire safety (including the need for class D fire extinguishers), storage, potential peroxide formation, water and air reactivity, and waste disposal issues.



Apparel:          Lab coats, closed toed shoes and long sleeved clothing should be worn when handling reactive solids.  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.  All manipulations of reactive solids that pose this risk should occur in a fume hood with the sash in the lowest feasible position.  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 working with reactive liquids.


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



Storage:          Reactive solids should be stored in a cool and dry location.  Keep reactive solids segregated from all other chemicals in the laboratory.  Minimize the quantities of reactive liquids whenever they are no longer required for current research.


                        Date all containers upon receipt.  Potassium will form peroxides and superoxides when stored under oil at room temperature.  Examine storage containers frequently.  Dispose of all reactive solids whenever they are no longer required for current research.


                        Never return excess chemicals to the original container.  Small amounts of impurities may be introduced into the container which may cause a fire or explosion.


Spills:              Please See Spill Cleanup Procedures




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.