I have few recommendations regarding the use of oil baths in laboratory:
1. Silicone oil is desired over mineral oil for high temperature reactions (but it is expensive). Mineral oil have a tendency to polymerize quickly (Boiling Point: 310=B0C (590=B0F); and there is also possibility of generating flammable side products due to polymerization reaction.
2. If mineral oil starts generating fumes upon heating (even at low temperature), never use it for further manipulations. It indicates impurities inside the oil due to extensive use/misuse.
3. Using sand over heating mantle is another option and this method provides homogeneous and controlled heat. Direct heat from heating mantles can ruin the reaction (uncontrolled heating).
4. Heating blocks are useful for small scale reactions.
5. If possible encourage researchers using water bath instead oil bath for low temperature reaction and distillation purpose. Water bath heating is not worthy for moisture sensitive/pyrophoric reactions (possibility of entering moisture inside the reaction set-up).
Also, I have enclosed few links related to oil bath fires which may provide facts about avoiding the oil bath fires in laboratories.
Tilak Chandra, Ph.D.
Chemical Safety Specialist
EH&S; Chemical Safety
30 East Campus Mall
Madison, WI 53715
I was wondering if I can tap on the group expertise and wisdom on the use of Oil baths. We have had a few small fires due to overheating or faulty thermostat. In your opinion, how often oil baths must be changed? What type of oil (not too expensive) is recommended? What do you suggest replacing them with ? I have heard: beads, sand etc.. Please share any experience you may have with oil baths substitutions. Do they work to heat up solvents evenly?
Again, thank you for all ideas or suggestions you may have. Keep up the great work you do.
Yung Morgan, MsPH
Industrial Hygiene Services
Environmental Health and Safety
117 Draper hall
UMASS,Amherst MA 01003
phone (413) 545-2682
Fax (413) 545-2600
email : pmorgan**At_Symbol_Here**ehs.umass.edu
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