Considerations concerning the establishment of a chemical laboratory
Basically this naturally depends on what type of experiments one wants to carry out. If you would want to do more than what the KOSMOS-chemistry set allows (for children and absolute beginners by the way a realistic alternative, as regards to price and safety it is unbeatable), one can in general state that:
Basic workspace requirements
- the workspace must be adequately seperated from the living quarters
- must be able to be rendered inaccessible to unauthorized persons
- must allow adequate ventilation
- must be so designed that the occurrence or spread of fire is unlikely or that it can be easily contained
Therefore I recommend:
- if all possible one establishes one's own place which serves no other purpose
- the flooring must be durable, noninflammable and easily cleaned, therefore in no case a rug or an inadequately sealed wood flooring
- one installs outside this space a lockable hazardous substance cabinet, hereby one can substantially reduce the risk of fire, furthermore it is a legal requirement that poisons be stored locked away.
Additional requirements for the workspace
- constant and low temperatures (eminently achievable in cellars)
- low humidity (problematical in many cellars)
- water connection + drainage
- power connection
- exhaust hood, or at least the possibility of being able to install one
- easily cleaned working surface, adequately resistent against fire, acid, lye
-> porcelain or ceramic is advisable
Basically one considers before operations involving fire risks with what one is going to extinguish a fire in an emergency, as water can under some circumstances make the fire worse. The following should be present:
- Fire extinguisher
- various extinquishing agents exist for different purposes, e.g. water, powder, carbon dioxide
- the fire extinquisher should be checked regulary, this is not merely a pure formality. A loss of pressure which leads to diminished effectivity or even total ineffectiveness is not infrequent.
- very inexpensive or even free
- in contrast to other extinguishing agents it at least does not to all intents and purposes worsen the situation of fires
- Fire blanket
- suitable to extinguish people on fire
- in application scope similiar to sand, but often more effective
To mention this once again, the working area, and especially the immediate area of the work surface, should be designed such that a spread of fire be limited. Above all combustible liquids (especially solvents with danger symbol F or F+) should be stored only in small quantities in the work space! Additionally, oxidizing substances(danger symbol O) should if possible be stored outside the work space.
Here a few further sensible rules of conduct:
- Open flames, if not needed, are to be extinguished when working with inflammable substances.
- Only the smallest quantity of inflammable substances are to be heated with fire.
- As a matter of principle do not smoke in the working area.
- In working with volatile, combustible substances or gases good ventilation is required. Danger of the formation of an explosive atmosphere.
- And yes, actually self-evident, but one can mention it again: fire or reaction mixtures which are capable of spontaneous combustion should never be left unobserved!