The first full week in February is National Burn Awareness Week, and we would like to mention the hazards of flammable classroom chemicals.

School science labs have an assortment of chemicals on hand for experiments and demonstrations. Some may be of very little risk to handle, but others could cause serious injuries and even death if handled improperly or misused.

Flammable chemicals are most commonly used as solvents such as acetone, ethanol, ethyl acetate, and methanol. It is the vapors that are flammable. Never use any type of open flame or source of ignition around these chemicals when being opened because when a person opens a bottle of flammable liquid, the vapors are first thing to leave the bottle from the top of the bottle.

Some chemicals or incompatible with each other meaning concentrated forms of chemicals that react with each other will produce very exothermic reactions that can be violent and explosive. They can also release toxic substances such as gases. Extreme caution and care needs to be used when handling, storing, or disposing of a combination of these chemicals.

Below are a few incompatible chemicals:

Incompatible Chemicals
Acetic acidNitric acid, peroxides, permanganates
Acetic anhydrideEthylene glycol, hydroxyl-group-containing compounds
AcetoneHydrogen peroxide
Ammonium NitrateAcids, flammable liquids, powdered metals, finely divided organic or combustible materials
Chlorate salts, such as sodium or potassium chlorateAcids, ammonium salts, metal powders, finely divided organic or combustible materials
ChlorineAmmonia, butane, hydrogen, turpentine, finely divided metals
CopperHydrogen peroxide
HydrocarbonsBromine, chlorine, peroxides
Hydrogen peroxideCombustible materials, copper, iron, most metals and their salts, any flammable liquid
Nitric acid, concentratedAcetic acid, acetone, alcohol, flammable substances, such as organic chemicals
Oxalic acidSilver, mercury
OxygenFlammable materials, hydrogen, oils
Phosphorus, whiteAir, oxygen
Potassium permanganateEthylene glycol, glycerol, sulfuric acid
Sodium (Alkali metals: lithium, sodium, and potassium)Carbon dioxide, water, alcohols
Sodium nitriteAmmonium salts
Sulfuric acidChlorates, perchlorates, permanganates


If an incident should arise, it is imperative to know how to correctly put the fire out.

Water only works on ONE CLASS OF FIRE!

Classes of Fires
AFires involving ordinary combustibles, such as wood, paper, and some plastics.
BFires involving flammable liquids, such as alcohols, lamp oils, or butane.
CFires involving electrical components.
DFires involving metals, such as aluminum or sodium.
KFires involving cooking or animal oils, such as frying foods.




Types of Fire Extinguishers 
TypeClass of Fire
Dry chemical (multipurpose)A, B, C
WaterA ONLY (will not work for other types of fires)
FoamB ONLY (will not work for other types of fires)
Carbon dioxide (not to be

used in confined areas)

B, C
HalonB, C
Potassium acetateK

Promote better emergency response to chemical incidents and regulatory efficiency, ease compliance, and reduce costs with a Global Harmonization System (GHS).

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