From: "Koster, Sandra" <skoster**At_Symbol_Here**UWLAX.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Acetic Acid & Nitric Acid compatability
Date: June 11, 2013 4:49:20 PM EDT
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <8D034EF30E72831-197C-2A0D2**At_Symbol_Here**>

I wonder if it would be different if you added some acetic acid to nitric acid rather than the other way around.

Sandra Koster

On Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 2:15 PM, Monona Rossol <actsnyc**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
The two can't be stored together anyway by definition. Nitric is an oxidizer as well as an acid. Glacial acetic is acidic and flammable.
Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist
President: Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.
Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE
181 Thompson St., #23
New York, NY 10012 212-777-0062

-----Original Message-----
From: McGrath Edward J <Edward.McGrath**At_Symbol_Here**REDCLAY.K12.DE.US>
Sent: Tue, Jun 11, 2013 9:52 am
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Acetic Acid & Nitric Acid compatability

So, my usual message of doom and gloom is this: if you want the "high risk" chemicals, be prepared to store them correctly or find a different way to do the lesson. What I tell school administrators is that if the MSDS (soon, the SDS) says "store in a dedicated cabinet," and this direction hasn't been followed, the school will most likely be responsible for any damages that result from an accident, regardless of the circumstances. In the K-12 world, unfortunately every tragic lab accident seems to be preceded by the phrase, "well, it worked hundreds of times before this! I can't imagine what happened!"
Edward J. McGrath
Supervisor of Science
Red Clay Consolidated School District
1502 Spruce Avenue
Wilmington DE 19805
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Russ Phifer
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 7:26 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Acetic Acid & Nitric Acid compatability
Russ =96 I can provide a real life nitric acid/ wood fire story, but it involves sawdust, not wooden shelving. Years ago, when a variety of different absorbents were used for labpacks, an east coast transporter packed some chemicals in New England before driving the load to their TSDF in New Jersey. The driver decided to stop at his mother's house on the way to have lunch. After a few minutes inside, a neighbor knocked on the door to tell him his truck was on fire. It turned out that some concentrated nitric acid was packed in sawdust. It is unknown if residuals on the outside of the bottle were the cause or if perhaps the cap was cracked, but the forensics clearly indicated the incompatibility was the cause of the fire.
I agree with you, however, that acetic and nitric by themselves are unlikely to react.
Russ Phifer
WC Environmental, LLC
1085C Andrew Drive
West Chester, PA 19380
For the best Online OSHA & DOT Courses,
P Please consider your environmental responsibility before printing this e-mail or any other document
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Russell Vernon
Sent: Monday, June 10, 2013 10:52 PM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Acetic Acid & Nitric Acid compatability
Dear Learned Ones…
Several years ago when confronted with the assertion that we couldn't store nitric acid and acetic acid together (or nitric acid n a wooden shelf) because they were incompatible I conducted an experiment.
1. I took glacial acetic acid and added concentrated nitric acid while stirring, anticipating a reaction… nothing happened. It didn't get hot, cold or have gas evolve
2. So after reaching a 50:50 mix I began heating while stirring (did I mention this was in a hood with proper PPE and a written procedure way back in the early 1990's)
3. I got in boiling and still there was no obvious reaction.
4. Now I added pencil shavings in small amounts in the belief it would catch on fire…
5. Nothing apparent happened.
6. So I added more.
7. Finally after 20 minutes mild boiling with concentrated nitric, glacial acetic and wood pieces I squirted just a drop of acetone a definitely got the reaction I expected (flame)
Does anyone have a real world experience where nitric acid caused an unwanted reaction with acetic acid or a wooden shelf?
Russell Vernon, Ph.D.
Environmental Health & Safety
University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave
Riverside, CA 92521

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.