I've seen a number of questions where I get a nervous Nellie reaction. This is one.

I doubt that the average experimenters know:

  • eye protection should be used.
  • Experimenters know how to and are prepared to flush eyes
  • wear lab coat or apron
  • wear appropriate gloves
  • Know that a large spill on body will result in removing clothes (never over head) and wash down in a shower
  • HCl fumes in basement/garage for example can corrode just about everything including electrical wiring.
  • How to properly dispose of acids or other chemicals.
  • shouldn't work alone
  • proper handling of flammable solvents
  • when a proper fume hood is required
  • how to dilute acids properly (esp sulfuric)

For many of the experimentalists seem totally carefree with regard to any safety procedures. What should we do to encourage a reasonable safety plan?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Educate, educate, educate... It is really the only thing we can do at this point. Leave a comment with proper procedurals, start an answer with the necessary safety precautions. On the other hand, this might not even be enough. Maybe we should write a community post about the basic principles of health and safety in laboratories, which we can link to every post that asks about such stuff. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ . . . and @Martin's gonna write it. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 11:38
  • $\begingroup$ I remember as a kid my grandmother telling me that if you have to ask the price, then you can't afford it. When a poster asks about safety, I get the same feeling that they don't have a clue and shouldn't be fiddling with chemicals - even though we do it in our everyday lives. // I worked for IBM in a chemical production plant. I often thought about ladies in Chiffon dress cleaning their ovens with spray cleaners. On an IBM line you'd been in a full body hasmat suit to use something like that. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ Industrial-strength drain cleaner is concentrated $\ce{H2SO4}$, and there's apparently $\ce{HF}$ in some automotive wheel cleaners. $\endgroup$
    – hBy2Py
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ Your grandmother’s phrase makes no sense. How can I know if I can afford somethinge before I know it’s exact price? $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan the reverse would be if you can afford everything, you never have to ask for a price. I guess it makes a fair share of sense... $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 10:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan - My Grandmother's point was about shopping in your price range. I can't afford a $100,000 car. So if the car is 99,000 or 101,000 makes no difference. I can't afford it. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps what we need is a general chemical safety procedure post that we can just throw at someone if they don't seem to know about general chemical safety. Aside for that, I'd give specific advise for specific problems. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 1:12

1 Answer 1


Do what has been done in other, similar situations. Take for example:

Assume no knowledge whatsoever. Think about whether you deem the full answer safe or not. If your answer is no then answer accordingly, making note of the required safety. If you deem the full answer okay for non-knowledged people, think about what knowledge the OP has and then decide how much you want to stress the safety aspects.

In any case, answering is probably the best option you have, since it will give the OP full focus on what you want to say and ensure that the safety bit is being read.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I liked the examples. The examples didn't just say that the reaction was unsafe but gave information that detailed the risk. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 2:15

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