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Oklahoma State University

Incompatible Chemical Management

Segregation of incompatible chemicals will reduce the risk of hazardous reactions in the event of accidental breakage, fire, earthquake, or other laboratory emergencies. To reduce the risk of unanticipated reactions, laboratory personnel should be trained to separate and store all chemicals according to hazard category and compatibility. In the event of an accident involving a broken container or a chemical spill, incompatible chemicals that are stored in close proximity may interact to produce fires, hazardous fumes, or explosions. Laboratory personnel should always read the MSDS and follow the precautions regarding the storage requirements of chemicals in the laboratory.

When storage space is constrained, secondary containment (plastic spill trays) may become the best method for segregation. Plastic spill trays will prevent incompatible chemicals from becoming intermixed during handling and storage. Plastic spill trays should have a volume sufficient to hold the contents of the largest container.

Consolidating mixed hazardous waste streams presents an ideal scenario for combining incompatible materials. This risk makes it imperative to accurately list the contents and associated hazards of the waste. The general guidelines provided by OSU for waste consolidation may require additional consideration when handling waste streams containing reactive or toxic substances.

Laboratory personnel should use the segregation scheme depicted in Figure 5. by determining which category the chemical belongs to and separate accordingly.

FIGURE 5.1 Compatible storage group classification system. This system should be used in conjunction with specific storage conditions taken from the manufacturer’s label and safety data sheet.

A List of Chemical Storage Groups

A: Compatible Organic Bases F: Compatible Inorganic Acids not including Oxidizers or Combustibles
Diethylamine Hydrochloric acid
Piperidine Sulfuric acid
Triethanolamine Phosphoric acid
Benzylamine Hydrogen fluoride solution
Benzyltrimethylammonium hydroxide
B: Compatible Pyrophoric & Water-Reactive Materials J: Poison Compresses Gases
Sodium borohydride
Benzoyl chloride
Zinc dust
Alkyl lithium solutions such as methyl lithium in tetrahydrofuran
Methanesulfonyl chloride
Lithium aluminum hydride

Sulfur dioxide

C: Compatible Inorganic Bases K: Compatible Explosives or Other Highly Unstable Materials
Sodium hydroxide
Ammonium hydroxide
Lithium hydroxide
Cesium hydroxide
Picric acid dry (<10% H2O)
Urea nitrate
D: Compatible Organic Acids L: Nonreactive Flammables and Combustibles  
Acetic acid
Citric acid
Maleic acid
Propionic acid
Benzoic acid
E: Compatible Oxidizers Including Peroxides X: Incompatible with ALL Other Storage Groups
Hydrogen peroxide
3-Chloroperoxybenzoic acid
Sodium hypochlorite
Perchloric acid
Nitric acid
Picric acid moist (10-40% H2O)
Benzyl azide
Sodium hydrogen sulfide