Health and Safety
SRS provides hazardous solvents, cleaning chemicals health & safety tips. Your friendly site for understanding hazardous solvents, chemicals and toxic solvents.
Safe Handling of Solvents … depends on
(1) understanding the hazards, and
(2) being careful and prepared.
The flammability and/or toxicity of solvents are commonly the most talked about hazards. But many solvents are also extremely irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. One consideration which is of particular concern to chemists is pressure buildup (due to exothermicity of rxn in a volatile solvent) in reaction vessels with limited gas outlet capability.
The information table below provides information on the properties of a number of common solvents as regards their boiling, igniting, exploding, poisoning….
|Values are Approximate||
Flash Point, ?C
Explosive Limits% v/v
|Acetone||56||-18||2 – 13||1000||IB||–||2||–|
|Hexane||69||-7||1 – 8||500||IB||–||65||–|
|Pentane||36||-40||1 – 8||1000||IA||–||–||–|
|Heptane||98.4||-4||1 – 7||500||IB||–||–||–|
|Acetonitrile||82||2||3 – 16||40||IB||–||170||–|
|Methylaene Chloride||40||none||12 – 23 (>100?C)||12.5||none||–||160 or 250||Yes|
|Ethyl Ether||35||-45||1 – 49||400||IA||–||–||–|
|Ethanol (Absolute)||78||12||3 – 19||1000||IB||–||1000 or 49-716||–|
|Methanol||65||11||6 – 36||200||IB||–||4||–|
|Ispropyl Alcohol||82||12||2 – 13||400||IB||–||50 or 22||–|
|Tetrahydrofuran||66||-21||2 – 12||200||IB||–||2||–|
|P-Dioxane||101||12||2 – 23||100||IB||–||24||Yes|
|Ethyl Acetate||77||-4||2 – 12||400||IB||–||7||–|
|Toluene||112||4||3 – 19||200||IB||–||2.9||–|
|Xylenes||140||25||1 – 7||200||IB||–||1.1||–|
|Benzene||80||-11||1 – 8||1||IB||–||12 or 4.68||Yes|
|Dimethylformamide||158||58||2 – 15 at 100o C||10||II||–||100||–|
|Methyl Ethyl Ketone||80||-7||2 – 12||200||IB||–||2||–|
The Flashpoint of a material is defined as the temperature at which an ignition source 1 cm from the surface of the liquid will cause ignition. The standard method is defined by ASTM and most flash points are measured in a “closed cup” flashpoint tester. Discrepancies/disagreements are found in the literature for some substances, but the values are usually fairly close.
Combustible and lower explosion limits! While generally regarded as non-flammable, and although no flashpoint can be measured by the standard method, dichloromethane (methylene chloride) has known explosive limits in air mixtures at 100C and above, and is known by firefighters to give flammable/explosive mixtures with air if there is a high energy ignition source or an enriched oxygen content.
Flammable solvents are an explosion hazard when the solvent vapor concentration in air is greater than the lower explosive limit (LEL) and less than the upper explosive limit (UEL). Below the LEL, the mixture is too lean to burn. For example, the LEL of ethyl alcohol is 3.3%. Note that this is 33,000 ppm for comparison with the permissible exposure level of 1000 ppm.
The OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit is a regulatory limit for the concentration of a contaminant in workplace air. The values shown refer to the level as an 8h-TWA (8 hour time weighted average) unless otherwise noted, given in given in ppm (parts per million in contaminated air) unless otherwise noted. See OSHA Z-1 and Z-2 tables.
The flash point increases as ethanol is diluted with water, but not real fast. Flash point of 80% ethanol/water is about 24C, and for 70% EtOH/water it’s 29C (according to Aldrich catalog).
IA, IB, IC, II, IIIA, and IIIB classes are defined by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) depending on flash points and boiling points.
National Fire Protection Association health, flammability, and reactivity ratings. The symbol is usually referred to as the “NFPA 704 diamond.” A rating of 4 is most dangerous in any category, 0 is least dangerous. The values shown in the table above were taken from various MSDS’s and other references, and not directly from the NFPA standard (there may be discrepancies). See Michigan State University’s extensive table of NFPA ratings for hundreds of inorganic and organic materials. These technical guidance manuals for handling the above chemicals. They are offered solely for your information, consideration, and investigation.
Disclaimer: This web page is for general informational purposes only. Since every situation is unique, and these products are hazardous if not handled appropriately, you must consult qualified technical and engineering personnel to evaluate your specific situation and answer any specific questions you may have. SRS disclaims all warranties, either expressed or implied, assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the data contained herein, and will not be liable for any personal injury, property damage, environmental harm or legal non-compliance that may result from reliance upon this document or your management of the product.