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Proper Storage and Handling of
Peroxide Forming Liquids

A peroxide is a substance that contains an oxygen-oxygen bond. Peroxides crystals are known to be shock, friction and heat sensitive. Peroxides can form in many organic substances, so it is very important to be careful when handling, storing and disposing the chemical that are used in the lab.

Peroxides can form in almost any organic compound; however there are certain chemicals that are more prone to peroxide formation. Some of the most common chemicals are:

High Hazard

Concentration Peroxide*

Autopolymerizers**

divinyl acetylene cumene acrylic acid
potassium metal isopropanol chloroprene
sodium amide diethyl ether methyl methacrylate
vinylidene chloride cyclohexene styrene
isopropyl (diisopropyl) ether tetrahydrofuran vinyl chloride

*They are a peroxide hazard on concentration (after distillation and evaporation).
**They can autopolymerize due to peroxide initiation, should not be put under pressure.

Since these chemicals are so dangerous, it is important to make sure that they handled, stored and disposed of properly.

Receiving

Upon receiving a peroxide forming chemical, a label should be made (in addition to the one from the manufacturer), that contains WARNING PEROXIDE FORMER tag, date of purchase, date it was opened and the date the chemical must be disposed of.

Storage

Peroxides forming chemicals should be blanked with an inert gas, such as nitrogen or argon, well sealed and away from the light. They should be kept at cool temperatures, but do not refrigerate them. Try not to keep more than a three months supply in stock.

Handling

Before distilling any known or suspected peroxide former, make sure to check it for peroxide.

Shelf Life

A general rule is that High Hazard peroxide formers should be disposed of after 3 months of opening, Concentration peroxide formers and Autopolymerizers can be stored for up to 12 months after opening.

Testing for Peroxide

There are peroxide detector tests available from Fischer Scientific and VWR Scientific. Peroxide forming liquids need to be tested on a regular basis to identify peroxides before they reach a high concentration.

Disposal

Peroxidizable liquids that have visible crystallization, discoloration or liquid stratification must be handled as potentially explosive (contact the EHS hazardous Materials Manager at 593-1663). For more information on how to properly dispose of peroxides, contact EHS at (593-1666) or review the following references.


References / More Information

Safety Net #23 - Peroxide Formation in Chemicals. UC Davis Environmental Health & Safety. Accessed 3/31/11.
http://safetyservices.ucdavis.edu/snfn/safetynets/snml/sn23/sn23

Peroxide. Interactive Learning Paradigms Incorporated. Accessed 2/27/08.
www.ilpi.com/msds/ref/peroxide.html

American Chemical Society Joint Board-Council Committee on Chemical Safety (2003). Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories, Volume 2. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society.

  • EHS has free copies available

-Amanda Eaton, Lab Safety PACE