Old chemicals

Hi All,

Please, some advice.

I was looking at the store stock during this lockdown and we have some chemicals in stock that are from the 70s, 80s, 90s.
Where can I find information on the safety of using such aged chemicals? I presume this is on a case by case basis, for example I would guess that sodium chloride is the twinkies of chemicals and will store forever, but maybe others aren't as stable?.

I want to make sure that what we are storing is safe to use, even if it is old.

I have tried cleapss but I think I'm really dumb because I can't find anything as specific.

Is there a database? rule of thumb?

Any help would be deeply appreciated.

Thank you all and keep safe.
 
Hi @ThisNameIsFake

Yes, case by case basis! The first thing is to maximise your safety as you can understand! How do the bottles appear, can you tell what is in them, are you wearing the right safety equipment? Most things will keep, inorganic salts are usually quite good for this (KI is more of a faff) but that should be fine.

There is a big list of chemicals on the E223 document from CLEAPSS. They also have guidance on damaged bottles GL246. I've found some old stuff in a store cupboard, but as it was stuff like citric acid, salt, glucose, etc, it is all fine. Anything that is dangerous needs to be disposed of in the right way. This company seem to be fairly cheep: Labwaste (labwaste@tradebe.com).

I hope this is a start?
 
Hi @NB_Chemistry,

Thank you for answering so quickly.

Some of the bottles are really "vintage" shall we say, in the kind of glass bottles that you would had found in old chemists' stores (I kind of like the look of them). Some are even unlabelled with only the name of the chemical and the supplier on them. But as most are glass bottles I think they are keeping ok.

I had a look at the GL246 document that you have attached and none of the bottles looked like it, thankfully, and all of them were some inorganic salt or another.

I'll have a google of each individual suspect then and hopefully something will flare up if they are not fit to be kept, but sounds unlikely.

Also, thanks for the waste company's name as I'm not sure who to hire for waste disposal.
 
Hi All,

Please, some advice.

I was looking at the store stock during this lockdown and we have some chemicals in stock that are from the 70s, 80s, 90s.
Where can I find information on the safety of using such aged chemicals? I presume this is on a case by case basis, for example I would guess that sodium chloride is the twinkies of chemicals and will store forever, but maybe others aren't as stable?.

I want to make sure that what we are storing is safe to use, even if it is old.

I have tried cleapss but I think I'm really dumb because I can't find anything as specific.

Is there a database? rule of thumb?

Any help would be deeply appreciated.

Thank you all and keep safe.
most of my chemicals well about 80% are older than the teachers.
 
Are you actually use them? My approach to chemicals is if the teachers not using it for at least 2 years, make a note on the inventory, I’d consider dump them later.
(Maybe take a picture for the old nice style chemical bottle, haha)
 
Ha ha I have chemicals that are really old too. My senior is in her 70's and she has been at the school for well over 40 years. Some the chemicals we have I think pre dates her. I've kept the ones I know we are going to use and ones that weren't opened for a couple of years I'm going to dispose off.
 
Thank you all for your replies.

I am new to the role of lab tech and have no previous experience so I wasn't sure what to expect. I am also the only lab tech so I have no one to ask them about these chemicals.
Thank you all for letting me know that is is not at all uncommon and that it is ok to ditch (responsibly) the ones that may be too old and not used frequently.
I think I will follow some of your advice to ditch things that may not be used within the next years. I think it helps to keep the store cupboard a bit less cluttered.

I am finding the E223 document really useful as it has a section on advice on some of the chemicals, and I'm also using this template to make my first inventory list. Fingers crossed I have added suficient information.
 
Sometimes you find one with a deposit on the bottle/jar in old money.
Thank you all for your replies.

I am new to the role of lab tech and have no previous experience so I wasn't sure what to expect. I am also the only lab tech so I have no one to ask them about these chemicals.
Thank you all for letting me know that is is not at all uncommon and that it is ok to ditch (responsibly) the ones that may be too old and not used frequently.
I think I will follow some of your advice to ditch things that may not be used within the next years. I think it helps to keep the store cupboard a bit less cluttered.

I am finding the E223 document really useful as it has a section on advice on some of the chemicals, and I'm also using this template to make my first inventory list. Fingers crossed I have added suficient information.
Thank you all for your replies.

I am new to the role of lab tech and have no previous experience so I wasn't sure what to expect. I am also the only lab tech so I have no one to ask them about these chemicals.
Thank you all for letting me know that is is not at all uncommon and that it is ok to ditch (responsibly) the ones that may be too old and not used frequently.
I think I will follow some of your advice to ditch things that may not be used within the next years. I think it helps to keep the store cupboard a bit less cluttered.

I am finding the E223 document really useful as it has a section on advice on some of the chemicals, and I'm also using this template to make my first inventory list. Fingers crossed I have added suficient information.
Ha ha I have chemicals that are really old too. My senior is in her 70's and she has been at the school for well over 40 years. Some the chemicals we have I think pre dates her. I've kept the ones I know we are going to use and ones that weren't opened for a couple of years I'm going to dispose off.
If they are in organics and not shock proof just keep them, they will be fine
 
Thank you all for your replies.

I am new to the role of lab tech and have no previous experience so I wasn't sure what to expect. I am also the only lab tech so I have no one to ask them about these chemicals.
Thank you all for letting me know that is is not at all uncommon and that it is ok to ditch (responsibly) the ones that may be too old and not used frequently.
I think I will follow some of your advice to ditch things that may not be used within the next years. I think it helps to keep the store cupboard a bit less cluttered.

I am finding the E223 document really useful as it has a section on advice on some of the chemicals, and I'm also using this template to make my first inventory list. Fingers crossed I have added sufficient information.
I am also a lone tech - been in the job for 12 months now and had a similar problem. I am not doing a quick fix but I have started my own Chemical inventory and everytime I use a chemical I put a coloured sticker on it. At the end of 2 years I am planning to dispose of anything that has not been used (running it by the HOD first) and then reordering as we need to. Hope this helps but it's a system I have had to work out for myself.
 
I am also a lone tech - been in the job for 12 months now and had a similar problem. I am not doing a quick fix but I have started my own Chemical inventory and everytime I use a chemical I put a coloured sticker on it. At the end of 2 years I am planning to dispose of anything that has not been used (running it by the HOD first) and then reordering as we need to. Hope this helps but it's a system I have had to work out for myself.
Thank you, I like this plan. Sounds like a good idea to recognise which chemicals are actually used and how often. Very systematic too.
I will try this as there are some toxic chemicals there that, if not used at all, I see no point in keeping in store at all.

Thank you for sharing this.
 
Thank you, I like this plan. Sounds like a good idea to recognise which chemicals are actually used and how often. Very systematic too.
I will try this as there are some toxic chemicals there that, if not used at all, I see no point in keeping in store at all.

Thank you for sharing this.
I do it the other way around haha, I sticker everything when I do a stocktake (different colour every year). If i use the chemical I remove the label. If after 5 years I have something with five different colours then i slate it for disposal.
 
I do it the other way around haha, I sticker everything when I do a stocktake (different colour every year). If i use the chemical I remove the label. If after 5 years I have something with five different colours then i slate it for disposal.
how much does that cost?
 
how much does that cost?
I only started 3 years ago, but i did a initial cull of the chem stock, stuff that I had never heard of or was obviously oxidised etc and I am lead tech across 2 other schools so arrange for their hazardous disposal to happen at the same time and we were quoted £1,300.

Hopefully the next load isn't as bad, but we should hopefully be moving to a new school building in the next couple of years so I will probably try and arrange it to take place at the same time as the move.
 
Rather wasteful Jade.
But what happens if, like me, these are legacy chemicals that you come to realise that are not used/needed/match any of the practicals you are currently doing?
Wouldn't you need to make space to store more of the chemicals that you use frequently?


On this topic of old chemicals, I found a bottle with a label that says "acetic acid" but without any more information on it. The contents are crystallised but they are kept at room temperature.
I have googled this and I've found that glacial acetic acid is crystallised at temperatures below 16.6C, but again, this bottle is kept a room temperature. Can I be confident that this is really acetic acid?

Also, I have a 50's style empty glass bottle that used to contain eosin dye powder. It is still covered in the powder. Can I wash and reuse? What I have found for eosing is that it needs to be disposed by authorised companies, so I'm presuming that the bottle also needs to be disposed in this way.

Thank you all again.
 
Last edited:
Top