Explosive chemicals cause sudden, almost instantaneous release of pressure, gas, and heat when subjected to sudden adverse conditions. These include shock sensitive chemicals, high-energy oxidizers, and peroxide-formers. Heat, light, mechanical shock, detonation, and certain catalysts can initiate explosive reactions. Compounds containing the functional groups azide, acetylide, diazo, nitroso, haloamine, peroxide, and ozonide are sensitive to shock, heat, and can explode violently. Always date explosive chemicals upon receipt and upon opening. 

If you ever come across any chemical that you suspect could be potentially shock sensitive and/or explosive, do not attempt to move the container as some of these compounds are shock, heat, and friction sensitive. In these instances, you should contact RMS at 940-565-2109 immediately.

Handling Guidelines

The following additional procedures are recommended for handling explosive chemicals:

  • Always use the smallest quantity of the chemical possible.
    • Do NOT scale up when using explosive materials. Check with your PI and perform a risk assessment of scaled up reactions, even when not working with explosive materials.
  • Always conduct the experiment within a fume hood and use in conjunction with a properly rated safety (explosion-proof) shield.
    • Note that fume hoods do not protect entirely against an explosion and blast shields should still be used as a protective barrier.
  • Be sure to notify other people in the laboratory what experiment is being conducted, what the potential hazards are, and when the experiment will be run.
  • Handle shock-sensitive chemicals gently to avoid friction, grinding, and impact. Do not use metal or wooden devices when stirring, cutting, scraping, etc. with potentially explosive compounds. Non-sparking plastic devices should be used instead.
  • Ensure other safety devices such as high temperature controls, water overflow devices, etc., are used in combination to help minimize any potential incidents.
  • Properly dispose of any hazardous waste and note on the hazardous waste tag any special precautions that may need to be taken if the chemical is potentially explosive.
  • Always wear appropriate PPE, including the correct gloves, lab coat or apron, safety goggles used in conjunction with a face shield, and explosion-proof shields when working with potentially explosive chemicals.
    • Avoid wearing synthetic material clothing when working with any flammable, combustible, explosive, or pyrophoric or self-heating materials.
      • Synthetic clothing melts when on fire and will adhere to the skin.

Pay particular attention to those compounds that must remain moist or wet so they do not become explosive (ex. Picric acid, 2,4-Dinitrophenyl hydrazine, etc.). Pay particular attention to any potentially explosive compounds that appear to exhibit the following signs of contamination:

  • Deterioration of the outside of the container.
  • Crystalline growth in or outside the container.
  • Discoloration of the chemical.

If you discover a potentially explosive compound that exhibits any of these signs of contamination, contact RMS at 940-565-2109 for more assistance.

Storage Guidelines

Similarly, to flammable materials, these materials must be stored in a separate flame-resistant storage cabinet or, in many cases, in a laboratory grade explosion-proof refrigerator or freezer that are designed for flammable and reactive chemicals.

Check the Section 7 of the materials SDS since some of these materials may need to be stored under inert atmosphere or kept dry and stored in a desiccator.

Chemical Hygene Plan - Table of Contents