Incompatibility of chemicals

Many chemical products, in addition to presenting risks by themselves, can give rise to dangerous reactions when in contact with other products. Thus, they can undergo an uncontrolled chemical reaction that can lead to:

  • Emission of toxic gases.
  • Emission of corrosive or flammable gases.
  • Formation of corrosive liquids.
  • Explosive reactions.
  • Formación de productos sensibles a fricción o choque.
  • Reacciones exotérmicas.
  • Explosiones y/o incendios.
  • Generation of gases that can break the container.
  • Heating of substances that initiates decomposition or uncontrolled reaction.
  • Reduction of the thermal stability of a substance.
  • Degradation of the quality of stored products.
  • Deterioration of containers (packaging, labels, etc.)

Especially in storage areas, whether of chemicals used as raw materials or final products of any chemical industry, there is a risk of chemical incompatibility.

Most common incompatibilities

The most common incompatibilities are summarized in the following list:

  • Strong acids versus strong bases. For example, H2SO4 with NaOH.
  • Strong acids versus weak acids that give off toxic gases. For example, HCl with cyanides or sulfides.
  • Oxidantes frente a reductores. For example, HNO3 with organic compounds.
  • Water versus various compounds. For example, boranes, anhydrides, carbides, trichlorosilanes, hydrides, alkali metals.
  • Oxidizers against nitrates, halogenates, oxides, peroxides, fluorine.
  • Reducing agents against flammable materials, carbides, nitrides, hydrides, sulfides, alkyl metals, aluminum, magnesium and zinc powder.
  • H2SO4 against sugar, cellulose, perchloric acid, potassium permanganate, chlorates, sulfocyanides.

Table of incompatibilities

In Table 1, chemicals are classified into 23 groups and groups that are incompatible with each other. This is not an exhaustive description, but rather a guideline for handling and storing these products.

Table 1: Incompatibility of chemical compounds
Group (Name) Incompatible with the following groups
1 (Inorganic acids)

  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Hydrofluoric acid
  • Hydrogen chloride
  • Hydrogen fluoride
  • Nitric acid
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Phosphoric acid
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23
2 (Organic acids)

  • Acetic acid
  • Butyric acid
  • Formic acid
  • Propionic acid
1, 3, 4, 7, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22
3 (Bases)

  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Ammonium hydroxide
1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23
4 (Amines and hydroxylamines)

  • Aminoethylethanolamine
  • Aniline
  • Diethanolamine
  • Diethylamine
  • Dimethylamine
  • Ethylenediamine
  • 2-methyl-5-ethylpyridine
  • Monoethanolamine
  • Pyridine
  • Triethanolamine
  • Triethylamine
  • Triethylenetriamine
1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23
5 (Halogenated compounds)

  • Allyl chloride
  • Chlorobenzene
  • Chloroform
  • Methylene chloride
  • Monochlorotrifluoromethane
  • Carbon tetrachloride
  • 1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene
  • 1,1,1,1-Trichloroethane
1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 17
6 (Alcohols, glycols and glycol ethers)

  • Furfuryl alcohol
  • Isoamyl alcohol
  • Methylamyl alcohol
  • 1,4-Butanodiol
  • Butanol
  • Diethylene glycol
  • Ethanol
  • Ethylbutanol
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Methanol
  • Propylene glycol
1, 3, 7, 14, 16, 20, 23
7 (Aldehydes)

  • Acetaldehyde
  • Acrolein
  • Butyraldehyde
  • Crotonaldehyde
  • Formaldehyde
  • Furfural
  • Paraformaldehyde
  • Propionaldehyde
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 23
8 (Ketones)

  • Acetone
  • Acetophenone
  • Diisobutyl ketone
  • Ethyl methyl ketone
1, 3, 4, 7, 19, 20
9 (Saturated hydrocarbons)

  • Butane
  • Cyclohexane
  • Ethane
  • Petroleum ether
  • Kerosene waxes
  • Pentane
20
10 (Aromatic hydrocarbons)

  • Benzene
  • Cumene
  • Ethylbenzene
  • Naphthalene
  • Toluene
  • Xylene
1, 20
11 (Olefins)

  • Butylene
  • 1-Decene
  • 1-Docene
  • Ethylene
  • Turpentine
1, 5, 20
12 (Petroleum derivatives)

  • Mineral oil
  • Gasoline
20
13 (Esters)

  • Amyl acetate
  • Butyl acetate
  • Ethyl acetate
  • Dimethyl sulfate
1, 3, 4, 19, 20
14 (Polymerizable monomers)

  • Acrylic acid
  • Acrylonitrile
  • Acrylates
  • Butadiene
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 23
15 (Phenols)

  • Carbolic acid
  • Cresol
3, 4, 7, 14, 16, 19, 20
16 (Alkylene oxides)

  • Ethylene oxide
  • Propylene oxide
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 23
17 (Cyanohydrins)

  • Acetone cyanohydrin
  • Ethylene cyanohydrin
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 16, 19, 23
18 (Nitriles)

  • Acetonitrile
  • Adiponitrile
1, 2, 3, 4, 16, 23
19 (Ammonia and derivatives)

  • Ammonium hydroxide
  • Ammonia gas
1, 2, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 23
20 (Halogens)

  • Chlorine
  • Fluorine
3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22
21 (Ethers)

  • Diethyl ether
  • THF
1, 14, 20
22 (Phosphorus)

  • Elemental phosphorus
1, 2, 3, 20
23 (Acid anhydrides)

  • Acetic anhydride
  • Propionic anhydride
1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19

 

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