Dr. R. Rinehart

Laboratory Safety

You are strongly advised to check out the following sites:

picture from organic lab page by Jason Keleher at Clarkson University, used with his permission
Lab safety tutorial presented by the Biology Department at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls at http://www.uwrf.edu/biology/biolabsafety/welcome.html 
Lab safety pages by Patty Feist at  the University of Colorado -- very thorough
Organic Lab Safety Real™ Movie [requires Real™ Player]
Lab safety by Dan Strauss at San Jose State U
http://www.chemistry.sjsu.edu/straus/visioche.htm > Safety video and animation
Lab safety QuickTime video by Dan Strauss and Gregg Wrenn at San Jose State U
is both informative and amusing
http://www.4chemistry.org/ > Safety Video and Animation > Full Safety Feature
CHM 230 Lab safety policies at Phoenix College
which says much the same as what I have below, but in a more succinct fashion, at
Lab Safety Orientation at UC Santa Cruz at
Organic Lab Safety by James Chickos at U Missouri St. Louis
Safety in the General Chemistry Laboratory PowerPoint
by Bette Kreuz, Dawn Wisniewski, and Ruth Dusenbery at the University of Michigan-Dearborn
Safety in the Organic Chemistry Laboratory PowerPoint
by Bette Kreuz and Ruth Dusenbery at the University of Michigan-Dearborn
Lab safety information by Interactive Learning Paradigms, Inc. [ILPI] at
Fire safety ABCs from the University of Oklahoma at
Fire safety and fire extinguishers in a chemistry laboratory by ILPI at
Fire Safety QuickTime video by Daniel A. Strauss anf Gregg Wrenn at San Jose State U
is a clip from the general lab safety video listed above and is both informative and amusing

as well as the specific 
regulations presented below, which 
have been compiled to promote safety and efficiency..

General Regulations
Handling of Reagents and Apparatus
Safety and First Aid
Specific Pointers for Organic Chemistry


1.  Work is permitted in the laboratory only when there is an instructor in charge. You are urged to perform your experiments during regular laboratory sessions. Consult your instructor if you want to work in the laboratory at other times.
2.  Carry out all experiments independently unless directed otherwise.
3.  Record your individual observations directly in your  lab notebook.
4.  Follow directions carefully. This is important for your own safety and the safety of others.
5.  Read the assigned experiment before coming to lab and write the procedure in your lab notebook as previously directed. Be prepared to ask questions about any part of the experiment that is not clear to you. If it becomes apparent that you are not prepared to perform the experiment, you may be asked to leave. 


1.  Chemicals will be found either on the reagent bench, in the fume hoods, at the center of the benches, or by the balances. Please leave the chemical containers where you find them at the beginning of the lab so others can find them easily.
2.  Read labels twice before taking any chemical to be sure it is the correct one.
3.  Never insert an instrument of your own into a chemical container.
4.  Never return chemicals to their original container.
5.  When pouring liquids, hold the palm of your hand over the label. If some of the liquid runs down the outside of the bottle, wash it with water and dry it.
6.  Always replace the lids on the chemical containers immediately after use.
7.  Set stoppers and lids on the bench in such a way as to avoid contamination.
8.  Be economical in the use of reagents, detergent, deionized water, and acetone. .
9.  Graduated cylinders, burettes and other glassware with fine graduations should not be heated. Graduated flasks and beakers can be heated.
10.  Be careful with hot objects. Hot objects should never be placed directly on the bench. Put them on your ceramic tile.


1.  Safety goggles are to be worn at all times in the lab. It is not only what you are doing but also what your neighbors are doing that could threaten your eyes. If you get chemicals in your eyes, flush your eyes out immediately with lots of water for a minimum of 15 minutes. Notify your instructor.
2.  If you have long hair, you should tie it back. Hair burns easily.
3.  Avoid direct contact with all chemicals.
4.  If you spill a strong acid or base, notify your instructor, who will direct you how to clean it up.
5.  Do not eat or drink anything in the laboratory.
6.  In case of fire to clothing, use the safety shower.
7.  In case of fire in containers or on the bench, step back, warn your instructor and others, and allow your instructor to take the appropriate action. There are fire extinguishers available.
8.  Report all accidents, including all cuts and burns, promptly to your instructor.


1.  You might want to provide yourself with an apron or laboratory coat. Even skilled workers cannot always avoid spilling corrosive substances on their clothing.
2.  Wash your equipment as soon as you finish using it.
3.  Equipment returned to the stockroom should be clean, dry on the outside, and in good condition.
4.  The cleaning procedure usually involves (1) cleaning first with tap water, detergent and a brush, (2) rinsing with tap water, (3) rinsing with deionized water, and (4) drying the outside with a paper towel. Do not use acetone unless directed to do so by your instructor.
5.  If you have trouble cleaning something, consult your instructor.
6.  It is your responsibility to immediately clean up any chemicals you spill in the lab. If you are not certain how to do this, consult your instructor.
7.  Dispose of waste in the appropriate place. If you are unsure where to dispose of something, ask your instructor.  General waste disposal guidelines:

a.  WASTE BASKET:  for paper only, no glass or chemicals
b.  SINK:  Only water soluble, nontoxic substances. Flush with tap water.
c.  SPECIAL DISPOSAL CONTAINERS:  Your instructor will tell you which substances to place here. For the organic lab, there will be a minimum of four such containers:
        halogenated organics: dichloromethane, 2-bromobutane, bromobenzene, etc.
nonhalogenated organic solvents and solutions: alcohols, aldehydes, aromatics, ketones
organic solids: solid products and contaminated items. NOT for TLC plates, gloves, ....
metals waste: aqueous solutions containing transition metal or heavy metal ions, such as Cu, Ag,
                                Mn, Pb, etc

d.  GLASS DISPOSAL CONTAINER:  For all glass waste

8.  Before leaving the laboratory, clean the sink nearest you and wash and dry your table top. Be sure that you have not left any apparatus out, that your locker is locked, and that your key is back on the keyboard.

Specific Advisories for Organic Chemistry 

1.  Use of heating mantles/sand baths 
a.  flammability => don’t spill organics onto equipment (clean thoroughly if you do)
b.  always use controller with heaters
c.  allow to cool before putting away (leave on bench top if you have to, but good planning counts!)

  Common lab setups:  DISTILLATION
            ► familiarize yourself with the properties of reagents being used [e.g., bp]

► always use boiling chips or sticks when heating a liquid to anywhere near its bp
a.  simple distillation, macroscale (ST 19/22)  [see diagram on following pages]
flask, distilling head, thermometer adapter with thermometer,

                                condenser w/ tubing, receiving head, receiving flask or
graduated cylinder
lubricate joints
support with 3-prong and/or utility clamps at strategic points
use Kem-Klamps
fasten rubber tubing with copper wire
heat with appropriate size mantle & controller
support heater with jack or wood blocks to permit easy removal if things
 get too hot  

            b.  fractional distillation, macroscale (ST 19/22)  [see diagram on following pages]
in addition to above equipment, vertical column packed with
Raschig rings  

            c.  simple micro distillation   [see diagram on following pages]
flask, connector w/ rod, distilling head, thermometer adapter with
 thermometer, connector, air condenser, receiving container

            d.  fractional micro distillation    [see diagram on following pages]
use vertical tube with loosely packed copper sponge along with equipment in

            e.  theory of fractional distillation; “plates”  [cf Williamson, pp 82-86,  Pavia, pp 565-580] 
micro procedures save time as well as reagents!!