Highly Reactive Chemicals and Explosives

When chemical reactions are considered safe, it is generally because the reaction rate is relatively slow or can be easily controlled. Certain reactions proceed, however, at such a fast rate and generate so much heat, that they may result in explosion. Care should be taken to ensure there is sufficient cooling and surface area for heat exchange.
Many chemical reactions may involve hazards like those mentioned above, but can be handled safely if some preliminary planning has been done. Planning an experiment should include knowledge of the reactivity, flammability, and toxicity of the chemicals used in and produced by the experiment. This information may be obtained from the MSDS data base, using the Handbook of Reactive Chemical Hazards (L. Bretherck), or by calling the DESHS (4-4635). Such planning shall include selection of the proper safety procedures, clothing and equipment as well as consideration of the possibility of a power failure, equipment breakdown, or fire, and the precautions that can be taken to minimize the consequences.