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Topic: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here  (Read 31214 times)

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Offline nj_bartel

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2010, 08:44:21 PM »
Make a 30/70 solution of sulfuric acid and water.  The solution gets HOT upon addition of the acid to the water.  This is due to the largely heat release accompanying the formation of the weaker acid (hydronium) from the stronger acid (sulfuric acid).

Now picture what you did.

You formed water as the weaker acid, by reacting the sulfuric acid with sodium hydroxide.  This releases a TREMENDOUS amount of heat.  You instantly boiled all the water in solution and probably straight charred the sugar.

Offline vmelkon

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2010, 07:08:13 PM »
I got a phosphorus burn 2 weeks ago that is still healing. after performing a synthesis of white phosphorus the water in the receiver was hot and when you have liquid P4 in hot water if it sloshes some P4 can surface and burn on the surface of the water. burning P4 has a way of splattering and a couple of droplets landed on my F-U finger on the right hand. it is no joke that phosphorus will turn the area necrotic when it burns you... :P

That's nasty - no P for me (don't mind the fact that I only wish I had the equipment to make it in a reasonable way :P).

The holes from sulfuric acid are really ridiculous.  The spill I had was on my dresser, and tiny amounts of it apparently had splashed through my clothes.  However many months later, half my wardrobe has random tiny holes and my boxers (which were hit hardest) look appropriate for Tarzan.

That's what happened to my clothes as well. Cotton fibers break apart.

Offline kizzler85

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2010, 07:40:26 PM »
In quant lab were were acid base washing our fritted glass crucible filters. There was supposed to be two seperate hoods used for nitric acid and sodium hydroxide, but some enterprising student decided to try and save time by vaccum filtering his acid through with the filtering flask in the base hood. Unfortunately, I was the unknowing student that followed with the base. Luckily for me though there was only a small volume of acid present (procedure wasnt followed) and the flask didnt explode. There was however alot of white smelly smoke and the flask was very hot to touch. It was really emberassing as the whole class stopped and stared at me, most backing away slowly.

 

Offline Catsceo

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2010, 08:55:56 PM »
I have another to add.  I was trying to electrolysize a brine solution to make chlorates, and trying different electrodes types.  I finally found that graphite didn't corrode fast so I went and looked into the bowl I was using to see the bubbles, and stupid me, took a breath.  Huge breath of chlorine.  I was dizzy for a few mins after it, and had a pounding sinus headache for the rest of the day.  I hate working with chlorine.  :(
I <3 Bi, I, and Br! :D

Offline nj_bartel

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2010, 02:17:11 AM »
Chlorine and HCl gas are both just  >:( >:( >:( to the sinuses and lungs.

Offline Fluorine

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2010, 06:05:26 AM »
I have limited lab experience compared to most others so I've fortunately never been in any serious danger. However I remember one time in my first chemistry class a girl with a methanol filled bottle (Winchester) nearly full trying to pour it directly into a 10mL graduated cylinder. She was fairly small herself, which made situation so much more dangerous. I broke out laughing while simultaneously trying to warn her how dangerous this was. I laughed because I was blindsided by such recklessness. Long story short she somehow managed to finish pouring it without spilling it everywhere or on herself and it seemed like she didn't really believe me that it could cause blindness and death.
I'm still learning - always check my work/answer.

"curse Pierre Jules C├ęsar Janssen!"

Offline Jango

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2010, 12:45:18 PM »
This one's pretty bad, but luckily I'm fine now and not scarred or anything. :)

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a blowtorch to heat up and melt salts with the intention to electrolyse them. I decided to melt some sodium hydroxide to see how powerful my blowtorch was. I was excited about my new purchase and stupidly forgot to put on a face visor before attempting the experiment (I remembered safety glasses, thank goodness). I had melted NaOH before, using a bonfire, and had worn my face visor then, along with other safety gear. But this time I forgot. I began to heat the NaOH (which was in the bottom of a steel can) from beneath, and for a minute or two, nothing seemed to happen. So I peered over to take a look into the can and it erupted. Molten sodium hydroxide sprayed out of the can for three feet until it hit me in the mouth (some hit my tongue). For the next five seconds I was yelling in pain and sprinting across the garden to my water trough, where I dunked my head under. I kept on dunking my head underwater repeatedly for an hour or so, until I went inside and called 999, then went to hospital. They gave me this really good cell regenerative cream to heal the burns, and now I'm fine and the burns don't look so bad anymore, just pink marks that will eventually fade. :) I was very lucky.

Offline Zerm

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2010, 09:05:44 PM »
One time I was using xylene as a solvent to recrystallize elemental sulfur.  I bought the xylene in a can and, after many attempts, I am of the opinion that one simply cannot pour xylene from a can without spilling any of it.  So I would go over my kitchen sink to pour into a smaller more manageable vessel.  I didn't pay much attention to the rather careless amount of xylene that went down the drain.  I just flushed it down with soap and water when I was done (very bad for the water supply, shame on me). 

A bit of background; xylene is immiscible with water and floats on top of it.  Its vapors are much heavier than air and will sink down into voids and collect.  This prevents evaporation of xylene in an enclosed space (such as a drain).

Nearly a week later, I was making a pot of ramen noodles and went to drain the boiling water in the sink.  Half way through pouring, I was hit with an overwhelming smell of xylene.  The xylene I had poured a week ago had been floating on top of the water in the S bend of the drain pipe and couldn't evaporate from such a cool, deep, and enclosed area.  When the boiling water hit it, it evaporated quickly and produced a visible fume!  The whole kitchen stank of the solvent and I had to air out the place.  Serves me right for disposing of it so irresponsibly anyway. 

Offline Twigg

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2010, 07:21:31 PM »
This one isn't so bad, but I had an almost foul run with a cheap alcohol burner. I was trying out a new cheap metal alcohol burner right when I needed to use it. So I set it up, thought I had filled it with lighter fluid, but I couldn't get the thing to light. So I open it up and it's empty. I figure I forgot to fill it, so I fill it and try to light it again. Nothing happens. I put it over on the dry side of the counter and go to get my butane burner. I come back and the whole counter is covered with lighter fluid. The thing had leaked everywhere. I think I'm sticking to glass alcohol lamps from now on.

Offline horseb0x

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2011, 04:50:36 PM »
Narrowly escaped some 3rd degree burns just there myself. I was distilling hydrochloric acid and noticed the solution was bumping. I had a magnetic stir rod in the flask but forgot to turn the stirrer on. I decided to turn it on. Big mistake. The still head flew out and the flask spit out hot HCl solution in all directions, some of which landed in the hot oil bath causing the thing to erupt. I got the hell outta there and cut off the power to my lab to turn the hot plate off. Lesson learned. Never turn on the stirrer if the solution is already hot.

Offline Mirage

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #25 on: February 27, 2011, 11:06:35 PM »
I usually have "one of those days". The first was right after christmas when I got a lot of new glassware. I somehow knew that today would be a bad day. I first accidentally dropped my crucible while it was in my crucible tongs. That wasn't bad cause they are like 2 bucks. The thing was it was full of molten sodium chloride! Luckily I was wearing super heavy gloves, my lab coat and face shield so no skin was exposed. Then as I was cleaning was cleaning up the mess after I let the NaCl cool, I knocked over an erlenmeyer flask. Then I cut myself on the glass. ( where were my gloves then? ) after this, I decided to slow down and plan all my moves. Unforunately I forgot that I had just simply put the broken glass in the trashcan. As I was emptying it, I cut myself AGAIN! Essentially this has happened twice to me about 2 weeks later with different glassware variables without the molten salt. But listen. The best is still to come! While I was still ignorant of safety and common sense, I didn't take head off all the warnings of the instability of KMnO4. So I was grinding some potassium permanganate and sugar inside, with a crucible without gloves or basic protection. Obviously, this mixture went off. A.spark just formed and grew for about a quarter of second until it burst into flames about 2 feet high. Luckily it was only a small amount. About 5g at the most. That's bout it. Had lots of minor accidents that aren't worth writing. Now I have had enough accident to realize that safetyIS important. All amateurs, take head! Always research any reactions you are going to attempt, always do anything outside that produces even microscopic amounts of fumes toxic or smelly, and ALWAYS wear gloves and goggles even if you are just boiling water.(you all know that boiling "bumps")

Offline vmelkon

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #26 on: February 28, 2011, 10:46:16 PM »
I had a distillator setup with a plastic keck clamp holding the flask to the adapter. I had to heat the stuff to some high temperature but I figured under 200 C would be enough. Unfortunately, I didn't have the means to measure the temperature. It got hot enough to melt the plastic and it caught fire! I had to cut the heat fast. I had to put out the fire fast. Luckily the flask didn't separate from the glass adapter because the contents was flammable and full of vapor.

Other than that, on a separate occasion, I was distilling some sulfuric acid. The vapor coming off has a lot more H2O. When the H2O got sucked back in (as a liquid), the thing vaporizes so fast that it make a high pressure in the flask. One of the glass stoppers blew off and fell to the ground. Luckily, it did not break. I had to put it back on before too much vapor escaped out of the flask.

Offline Trilly

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2011, 02:45:01 AM »
In the chemical storage closet, my less than bright lab mate mixed nearly pure t-butyl lithium (that he mislabeled and stored in a tube that said H2SO4 on it...) with 99% pure sulfuric acid waste from last weeks' experiment. A giant boom resulted. He emerged looking like someone had successfully suicide bombed him, with glass protruding from all over his various appendages, bleeding like a stuck pig, dripping acid. That explosion knocked a jar of cake potassium in kerosene into a mob bucket full of water, which then literally blew the sheet rock right off the wall, including a few 2x4s and set off the sprinklers in the hole building. It blew out my left ear drum, and I actually needed surgery so I wasn't deaf.

The same guy ended up with third degree burns over 50% of his body in college upstate because he "passed" his chem partner a sealed bottle of diethyl ether that Jesus used in his chem class not knowing that when ether's stored in a clear glass bottle and is left to sit in light, volatile peroxides result, which react with the ether and go boom. So now he kinda looks like Freddy Crougar and Darwin's test dummy had a lovechild. True s#*$, I kid ya not.

Offline zaphraud

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I escaped having extremely hot, black goop sprayed all over myself by a few seconds a couple years ago. I was experimenting with the decomposition products of sucrose and other substances when mixed, with the goal of forming carbon-reinforced solids.. I allowed my thoroughly black mixture to cool so I could step out for a bit. When I began heating it again upon my return, it had already solidified. I heated it too rapidly, and it began decomposing on bottom before the topmost portion had re-melted (if it could at that point).. there was probably about a liter of the stuff in a thinnish stainless steel vessel.

I hadn't quite figured out what was very, very wrong when the bottom of the steel vessel bulged out, somewhat slowing the heating, and causing a little bit of wobbling. I will never make that mistake again!

But when I saw the shiny black surface start to bulge, I RAN around a corner. A split second later, POP! and it sprayed burning hot stuff everywhere, the majority of it sticking to the ceiling 8 feet up ... I'm 6'4" or cleanup would have been a serious labor, and as it was I had to re-paint the ceiling in that location because of the vast amounts of brown coloring that remained soaked in..

Yay materials science..

The most interesting part of this accident, I think, is that it was an explosion, and it occurred using only food-grade (FDA-GRAS list) materials - yet had the potential to cause seriously life-changing burns had anything gone differently. Its the kind of thing that makes you stop and think about how dangerous life as a whole is, even if you get rid of all the "dangerous" materials or chemicals.

Then again, if you're making something intended to be stiffer than steel out of sugar, one should probably expect unusual accidents as a possibility..

Offline Zerm

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Re: Barely escaped disfigurement tonight! - Compile your chem mishaps here
« Reply #29 on: August 09, 2011, 05:08:55 PM »
So I haven't done much chemistry lately and it is perhaps due to an incident that occurred earlier back in spring which was discouraging.  This is not a tale of near disfigurement but a run in with authorities.

A friend of mine and I were working on a methyl salicylate synthesis as an introduction to esterification.  It was actually more of a prep session as we were purifying store bought methanol through distillation and hydrolyzing and purifying salicylic from acetyl salicylate (asprin tablets).  All of this was happening in my small apartment by the way.  We had a distillation setup with water pumps, hot plate stir, glassware everywhere, the works and we were geared up with goggles, gloves, and aprons.  We had been working all day and it was quite warm in the apartment so I just kicked the door open and we continued on with our business not thinking twice.  It wasn't until later that evening I heard some footsteps on the stairs outside.  I looked over to the door to see a man peek into the doorway as an alarmed look came over his face.  Thinking it was a nosy neighbor, I said bluntly, "Can I help you?"  At which point the man stepped into, hand on his holstered gun and said, "So what we got goin on here boys?"  There were three city police officers at my door. 

I was so sick I could have just died.  Of course, at that point I decided it was best to be polite and cooperative, so I invited them in.  They explained they had received a tip from someone in my neighborhood that I was running a meth lab (ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE JUST SO YOU KNOW).  I attempted to explain my hobby and that I was making methyl salicylate or wintergreen oil and that the distillation setup was for the distillation of methanol.  At which point, they couldn't decide if it was meth related or moonshine related (Both are pretty common in my state).  Of course they asked me all the standard cop questions, if I had any firearms on me or drugs in the house and what not.  About this time, my roomate who was shut up in his room the whole time writing a term paper came out to see what the commotion was, much to his horror.  The officers needed me to explain what every item was and what I intended to use it for.  One officer in the back (I guess he felt left out) shined his flashlight on a crock pot on my counter and asked what I had going on in there.  To which I muttered "A pork roast?"  The one thing they couldn't get past is what I intended to do with the wintergreen oil.  It had never occurred to me what I would do with the stuff, probably just discard since the point was the process not the product.  I finally reasoned that I could make a candle or something.  So the officer asks, "So you're making candles here then?"  I looked at him not really knowing what else to say but, "Sure?"  He wrote it down.

In the end they actually apologized for the disturbance, saying we didn't quite fit the profile of meth dealers.  No charges, no fines, they just told us to be careful and have a good evening.  I was quite astonished actually.  Especially since we were also messing around with extracting iodine from povidone iodine which was admittedly questionable.  I thought for sure between the iodine, the smell of acetic acid, the crushed pills, and distillation of at least a kind of alcohol that they would have torn the place apart but nothing ever came of it.  Again, I was not nor ever intended to manufacture an illicit substance but they still could have given me a lot of trouble.  I was VERY lucky.  That close call sort of turned me off of the hobby a while but I've been thinking about it lately I may get back to it soon.  Quite a shame for all that equipment to lay around unused.

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