WATER REACTIVE CHEMICALS
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE
Water reactive chemicals are chemicals that react vigorously with moisture.
The most common water sensitive chemicals include sodium, potassium, lithium metals and
aluminum alkyls. A list of some water reactive chemicals is at the end of this SOP.
• Water reactive chemicals can react explosively when they come into contact with water.
• Good laboratory technique
• Appropriate shielding through use of personal protective equipment
• Portable Lexan shield or fume hood with a working sash
• Availability of eye wash station and safety shower
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
• Safety glasses/goggles (Wear chemical safety goggles when using small quantities or
safety glasses or chemical safety goggles with face shield when using large quantities or
when a splash potential exists.)
• Gloves should be worn when handling water reactive chemicals. Disposable latex or
nitrile gloves provide adequate protection against accidental hand contact with small
quantities of most laboratory chemicals. Lab workers should contact OEHS for advice on
chemical resistant gloves when direct or prolonged contact with hazardous chemicals is
• Lab coats, closed toed shoes and long sleeved clothing should be worn when handling
water reactive chemicals.
• Additional protective clothing should be worn if the possibility of skin contact is likely.
• Many water sensitive chemicals will liberate hydrogen when they react with water. The
use of a fume hood is recommended to prevent the buildup of combustible gases.
• A glove box may be used to handle water sensitive chemicals when a dry atmosphere is
• A safety shower and eyewash must be available and accessible when working with water
SPECIAL HANDLING PROCEDURES AND STORAGE REQUIREMENTS
• Special ventilation is required if these materials are used outside of a fume hood. If your
research does not permit the handing of water sensitive chemicals in a fume hood you
must contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety to review the adequacy of all
• Water sensitive chemicals should be stored in a cool and dry location. Some materials
may react with excessive humidity in the air.
• Keep water sensitive chemicals segregated from all other chemicals in the laboratory.