There is a question about storing around 1000 liters of KOH, and I'm wondering about whether such questions should be answered here.

I think that questions about safety are clearly on-topic and useful here, but I'm thinking about a laboratory scale here. A thousand liters are an industrial scale, and I'm clearly out of my area of expertise here. What I know is that scaling up is anything but trivial, and that many exciting things can happen at an industrial scale that aren't necessarily noticeable on a laboratory scale. Many of those exciting things tend to cause a reaction to blow up, which is pretty dangerous if we're talking about hundreds or thousands of liters of dangerous chemicals.

My personal opinion is that anyone that asks the internet for generic advice on such issues is clearly not qualified to handle dangerous chemicals on that scale.

I don't want to prohibit all questions about large-scale reaction, I think they would work fine if they're more specific and clearly show that the asker knows in general what they're doing.

Should we have any general rules on this, or is this not really an issue?

  • $\begingroup$ There isn't an SE-wide policy on this? I've seen similar things happen on Physics and Engineering (with meta discussions), though I have yet to see anything overarching. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 0:14
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    $\begingroup$ I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other, but I'm glad that you brought this here. To be honest, I'd rather answer a question where someone is using something in a facility than someone doing a potentially dangerous small scale experiment in their garage, but that's just my way of thinking about it. I think revisiting these issues from time to time is beneficial. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 3:32

1 Answer 1


In short: I'm strictly against any policy that would ban such questions as off-topic!

As I mentioned before in a comment in the original thread, personal and technical safety aspects are on topic on Chemistry.SE.

You're definitely right in that things get more difficult upon upscaling. This envolves both technical and legal aspects.

In this particular case, more recent comments by the guy asking indicate that he and his team aren't clueless, as seemingly assumed by some.

If Chemistry.SE claims to be a Q&A site for scientists, questions (or discussions) on chemistry on a larger scale should be welcome.

I'm looking forward to see more of these, rather than the n-th duplicate of questions on trends in the PSE, calculations of isotope ratios, or how to pick the rate constant for a 2nd order reaction from a graph.

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    $\begingroup$ I fully agree. I was quite interested in the topic myself and hoped to see a nice answer, which we got. I expect that as Chem.SE grows, we'll see more content of this sort, and that is a good thing. But I also think that the initial skepticism and caution was deserved; someone looking for information on manipulating chemicals in dangerous quantities while presenting as little context as had been initially provided can be evidence that the asker is not prepared to take on the risk, and unfortunately in some cases having just a little knowledge can invite more danger than having none at all. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 11:36
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Klaus. It's an important issue and the initial post did set off some alarm bells in my mind, but in the end, we are only internet people and can't be held responsible for anything foolish someone might do. And even more importantly, having the question on the site could serve as a resource for future visitors with similar questions! $\endgroup$
    – Curt F.
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 4:02
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with this. We've allowed safety questions since the beginning of the beta; and there have been some good ones. Sure, it can get technical, but that's what we want, right? :) We might want to urge people to add disclaimers to their posts if they apply though. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ It might be good to have a "industrial-scale work has its own hazards" banner. $\endgroup$
    – ikrase
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 6:22

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