Incompatible Chemicals

Material Safety Data Sheets contain information under the following specific headings:

  • Identification of the substance or preparation (a preparation is a mixture of substances) and the name of the supplying company.
  • Composition/information on ingredients.
  • Hazards Identification.
  • First-aid measures.
  • Fire-fighting measures.
  • Accidental release measures.
  • Handling and storage
  • Exposure controls/ personal protection.

·  Physical and Chemical properties
·  Stability and reactivity
·  Toxicological Information.
·  Ecological Information.
·  Disposal considerations.
·  Transport information
·  Regulatory Information
·  Other Information.


The relevant safety data sheets must be read before you carry out your experiments. It is advisable to keep a hardcopy at hand when you are carrying out your experiment, in case of any emergencies. Check for incompatible chemicals at Bretherick’s Handbook of Reactive Chemical Hazards available as an e-book at the Library.

Acetic acid Chromic acid, nitric acid, peroxides, permanganates
Acetic anhydride Hydroxyl-containing compounds such as ethylene glycol, perchloric acid

Concentrated nitric and sulfuric acid mixtures, hydrogen peroxide
Chlorine, bromine, copper, silver, fluorine, mercury
Alkali and alkaline earth metals, such as sodium, potassium, lithium, magnesium, calcium, powdered aluminum
Carbon dioxide, carbon tetrachloride, other chlorinated hydrocarbons (also prohibit the use of water, foam, and dry chemical extinguishers on fires involving these metals - dry sand should be employed)
Ammonia (anhydrous)
Mercury, chlorine, calcium hypochlorite, iodine, bromine, hydrogen fluoride
Ammonium nitrate
Acids, metal powders, flammable liquids, chlorates, nitrites, sulfur, finely divided organics, combustibles
Nitric acid, hydrogen peroxide
Ammonia, acetylene, butadiene, butane, other petroleum gases, sodium carbide, turpentine, benzene, finely divided metals
Calcium oxide
Carbon, activated
Calcium hypochlorite, other oxidants
Ammonium salts, acids, metal powders, sulfur, finely divided organics, combustibles
Chromic acid and chromium trioxide
Acetic acid, naphthalene, camphor, glycerol, turpentine, alcohol, other flammable liquids
Ammonia, acetylene, butadiene, butane, other petroleum gases, hydrogen, sodium carbide, turpentine, benzene, finely divided metals
Chlorine dioxide
Ammonia, methane, phosphine, hydrogen sulfide
Acetylene, hydrogen peroxide
Isolate from everything
Hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, any other oxidant
Hydrocarbons (benzene, butane, propane, gasoline, turpentine, etc.) Fluorine, chlorine, bromine, chromic acid, peroxides
Hydrocyanic acid Nitric acid, alkalis
Hydrofluoric acid (anhydrous), Hydrogen Fluoride Ammonia (aqueous or anhydrous)
Hydrogen peroxide Copper, chromium, iron, most metals or their salts, any flammable liquid, combustible materials, aniline, nitromethane
Hydrogen sulfide Fuming nitric acid, oxidizing gases
Iodine Acetylene, ammonia (anhydrous or aqueous)
Mercury Acetylene, fulminic acid*, ammonia
Nitric acid (concentrated) Acetic acid, acetone, alcohol, aniline, chromic acid, hydrocyanic acid, hydrogen sulfide, flammable liquids, flammable gases, nitratable substances
Nitroparaffins Inorganic bases, amines
Oxalic acid Silver and mercury and their salts
Oxygen Oils, grease, hydrogen, flammable liquids, solids, gases
Perchloric acid Acetic anhydride, bismuth and its alloys, alcohol, paper, wood, grease, oils (all organics)
Peroxides, organic Acids (organic or mineral), (also avoid friction, store cold)
Phosphorus (white) Air, oxygen
Phosphorus pentoxide Alcohols, strong bases, water
Potassium chlorate Acids (see also chlorates)
Potassium perchlorate Acids (see also perchloric acid)
Potassium permanganate Glycerol, ethylene glycol, benzaldehyde, sulfuric acid
Silver and silver salts Acetylene, oxalic acid, tartaric acid, fulminic acid*, ammonium compounds
Sodium See alkali metals (above)
Sodium nitrite Ammonium nitrate and other ammonium salts
Sodium peroxide Any oxidizable substance, such as ethanol, methanol, glacial acetic acid, acetic anhydride, benzaldehyde, carbon disulfide, glycerol, ethylene glycol, ethyl acetate, methyl acetate, furfural
Sulfuric acid Chlorates, perchlorates, permanganates


Potentially Explosive Combinations of Common Reagents

  • Acetone + chloroform in the presence of base
  • Acetylene + copper, silver, mercury or their salts
  • Ammonia (including aqueous solutions) + Cl2, Br2, or I2
  • Carbon disulfide + sodium azide
  • Chlorine + an alcohol
  • Chloroform or carbon tetrachloride + powdered Al or Mg
  • Decolorizing carbon + an oxidizing agent
  • Diethyl ether + chlorine (including a chlorine atmosphere)
  • Dimethyl sulfoxide + CrO3
  • Ethanol + calcium hypochlorite
  • Ethanol + silver nitrate
  • Nitric acid + acetic anhydride or acetic acid