Safe Handling Guide: Sodium Hydroxide

Sodium Hydroxide is a highly caustic base and alkali. Proper safety training, as well as a strong awareness of the inherent dangers of the chemical, are essential to those who work with it. Our Safe Handling Guide provides an overview of the essentials of Sodium Hydroxide safety.

About Sodium Hydroxide

Liquid Sodium Hydroxide, sometimes called Caustic Soda, is most commonly made via the electrolysis of brine (Sodium Chloride). Brine enters either a membrane or diaphragm electrolytic cell, and three products are produced: Caustic, Chlorine, and Hydrogen. This process is known as the Chlor-alkali process.

Sodium Hydroxide Solution is highly corrosive, and a very strong base. It may be clear or slightly cloudy, depending on the grade; see Sodium Hydroxide: Membrane vs Diaphragm Grade. It is often transported and handled hot. If Caustic comes in contact with water, an exothermic reaction will occur. Sodium Hydroxide is known for its ability to cause severe chemical burns. Contact with the skin will cause severe burns, and the inhalation of vapors is extremely irritating.

Sodium Hydroxide has uses in very many different applications and industries. Commonly, it is used in the pulp and paper industry, for water treatment, for pH regulation, and in food preparation. Sodium Hydroxide is so diverse it may be used for anything from giving pretzels their crispy crust, to the unsavory digestion of roadkill!

Hazard Statements 

  • May be corrosive to metals.
  • Harmful if swallowed.
  • Causes severe skin burns and eye damage.
  • Causes serious eye damage.

Sodium Hydroxide Storage / Disposal 

Sodium Hydroxide should be stored in the original container and locked up. The container should be a corrosive-resistant container with a resistant inner liner. Keep the container tightly closed and store it in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. Regulations for disposal may vary by location. Dispose of the contents and/or container to an appropriate treatment and disposal facility in accordance with local/regional/national/international regulations, and product characteristics at the time of disposal.

Sodium Hydroxide Safety / Safe Handling 

Use caution when diluting Sodium Hydroxide. To minimize heat generation, DO NOT add water to Caustic; ALWAYS add Caustic to water while stirring. When handling Sodium Hydroxide, it is important that proper PPE (personal protective equipment) is worn. This product must not come in contact with eyes, skin, or clothing. Use only with adequate ventilation; do not inhale mist or vapors, and do not taste or swallow.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

  • Eyes/Face: Wear close-fitting chemical splash goggles that do not allow entry of liquids. They should have adequate ventilation to keep them from fogging. Use a face shield to protect your face from possible splashing.
  • Skin/Body: Wear a chemical-resistant suit and rubber boots. Do not wear leather boots as Caustic disintegrates leather. Do NOT tuck pant legs into boots.
  • Hands: Wear chemical-resistant rubber or rubber/plastic-coated gloves that come well above the wrist.
  • Respiratory: Wear a respirator if exposure is expected to exceed regulatory limits.
  • General: When handling, do not eat, drink or smoke. Always observe good personal hygiene measures, such as washing after handling the material and before eating, drinking, and/or smoking. Routinely wash work clothing and protective equipment to remove contaminants.
Personal Protective Equipment for Sodium Hydroxide Safe Handling

Response

  • If swallowed: Rinse mouth and drink plenty of water. Do NOT induce vomiting. If vomiting occurs, keep head low so that stomach content doesn’t get into the lungs.
  • If inhaled: Move to fresh air. If breathing is difficult, give oxygen. If breathing stops, provide artificial respiration. Do not use mouth-to-mouth.
  • If on skin (or hair): Take off immediately all contaminated clothing and wash off with plenty of water for 15-20 minutes.
  • If in eyes: Immediately flush with water for at least 15 minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing.
  • IMMEDIATELY call a poison center/doctor.
  • Wash contaminated clothing separately before reuse.

Sodium Hydroxide Spill Reporting / Neutralization

Contain and collect spill to be removed to a chemical waste area. Neutralize the residue with a dilute or weak acid. Flush spill area with water. Notify the applicable government authority if the spill is reportable or if it could harm the environment.

Disclaimer: This information was obtained from sources that we believe are reliable. However, the information is provided without any warranty, express or implied, regarding its correctness. The conditions or methods of handling, storage, use, and disposal of the product are beyond our control and may be beyond our knowledge. For this and other reasons, we do not assume responsibility and expressly disclaim liability for loss, damage or expense arising out of or in any way connected with the handling, storage, use or disposal of the product. 

Safe Handling Guide: Hydrochloric Acid

Due to the highly hazardous nature of Hydrochloric Acid, proper safety training is essential for persons who work with this material. Our Safe Handling Guide provides an overview of the essentials of Hydrochloric Acid safety.

About Hydrochloric Acid

Hydrochloric Acid (HCl), sometimes called Muriatic Acid, is made by the combustion of Hydrogen gas in Chlorine gas to create Hydrogen Chloride. This is then dissolved in water to create a liquid Hydrochloric Acid.

Hydrochloric Acid is a highly corrosive solution. It emits a pungent odor and strongly fumes in moist air. The solution ranges in appearance from a water-like colorlessness to slightly yellow. Concentrated Hydrochloric Acid is one of the strongest acids known. It readily attacks common metals, yielding hydrogen, which, in certain concentrations in air, may be explosive. Concentrated solutions are capable of causing severe damage to eyes and skin. The vapors are irritating to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes.

Most of the Hydrochloric Acid that is produced commercially is used for “pickling” or preparing metals for electroplating. It is also used in the production of chlorides, fertilizers and dyes, and in rubber, textile, and photography industries. Hydrochloric Acid is used in our bodies to help digest our food. It is commonly referred to as stomach acid.

Hazard Statements

  • May be corrosive to metals.
  • Harmful if swallowed.
  • Causes severe skin burns and eye damage.
  • May cause respiratory irritation.

Hydrochloric Acid Storage / Disposal

Hydrochloric Acid should be stored only in the original container, in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. Keep the container tightly closed and locked up. Regulations for disposal may vary by location. Dispose of the contents and/or container in accordance with local/regional/national/international regulations.

Hydrochloric Acid Safety / Safe Handling 

Hydrochloric Acid should be only used outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. The proper PPE (personal protective equipment) must be worn. Wash thoroughly after handling. If diluting the acid, NEVER add water to the acid, ALWAYS acid to water. If possible, add below the surface of the water.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Eyes/Face: Wear safety goggles/full face shield.
  • Skin/Body: Wear a chemical-resistant suit and rubber boots.
  • Hands: Wear chemical-resistant gloves.
  • Respiratory: If spraying, wear an approved full-face respirator with an acid gas vapor cartridge. Do not breathe mist or vapor. A respirator is required when the concentration in the air exceeds 5 ppm.
  • General: When using, do not eat, drink or smoke. Always observe good personal hygiene measures, such as washing after handling the material and before eating, drinking, and/or smoking. Routinely wash work clothing and protective equipment to remove contaminants.
Personal Protective Equipment for Hydrochloric Acid Safe Handling

Response

  • If swallowed: Rinse mouth. Do NOT induce vomiting.
  • If inhaled: Remove person to fresh air and keep comfortable for breathing.
  • If on skin (or hair): Take off immediately all contaminated clothing. Rinse skin with water/shower.
  • If in eyes: Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing.
  • Immediately call a poison center/doctor.
  • Wash contaminated clothing before reuse.
  • Absorb spillage to prevent material damage.

Hydrochloric Acid Spill Reporting / Neutralization

Spills greater than 5,000 lbs in a 24 hour period must be reported to the National Response Center. Spills greater than 5,000 lbs in transportation must be reported to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Volume of Hydrochloric Acid Spill
Amount of Sodium Bicarbonate Needed

1 gallon
5.5 lbs

2 gallons
11.0 lbs

3 gallons
16.5 lbs

4 gallons
22.0 lbs

5 gallons
27.5 lbs

10 gallons
55.0 lbs

50 gallons
275.0 lbs

55 gallons
302.5 lbs

100 gallons
550.0 lbs

 

Disclaimer: This information was obtained from sources that we believe are reliable. However, the information is provided without any warranty, express or implied, regarding its correctness. The conditions or methods of handling, storage, use, and disposal of the product are beyond our control and may be beyond our knowledge. For this and other reasons, we do not assume responsibility and expressly disclaim liability for loss, damage or expense arising out of or in any way connected with the handling, storage, use or disposal of the product. 

CORECHEM receives Governor’s Award of Excellence for workplace safety

CORECHEM is excited to announce that we have received the Governor’s Award of Excellence for workplace safety and health!

This award demonstrates that the entire team at CORECHEM is committed to our ‘Safety’ value. To receive the Governor’s Award of Excellence, 50,000 man-hours must be worked without a Lost Workday or Restricted Duty Incident. Additionally, the State of Tennessee awards the Governor’s Award of Excellence to just an average of approximately 16 companies per year. The team at CORECHEM is honored to receive this special recognition of our longstanding commitment to safety.

Pictured: Wesley Sherrod, General Manager with David Blessman, TOSHA Voluntary Protection Program Manager.

Safety Spotlight: Getting Rid of Empty Chemical Containers

Empty Chemical Drums

Returning Drums and Totes from CORECHEM

Drums and totes that have been delivered to your facility by a CORECHEM truck are returnable. In order to return a container, it must be empty with a maximum of 1” of residue in the bottom. If they are stored outdoors, drums should be stored on their side to prevent from filling with rainwater. Any liquid in the container at time of pickup is assumed to be as stated on the label. If more than one inch of residue is in the container, our drivers are not allowed to pick the container up: see Empty Container Policy. Empties may be returned with your next chemical delivery, or when our truck is in the area.

We are unable to reuse drums and totes that have been picked up from our facility and/or are transported on your truck; however, if proper disposal of these containers presents a problem to you, these may be returned to CORECHEM.

Returning Drums and Totes from Other Suppliers

CORECHEM can take back drums and totes from other suppliers if certain conditions are met. In order to determine if we are able to take back the drum or tote you received from another supplier, we will need to first review a Safety Data Sheet of the material the drum or tote was used for. Drums and totes must be empty and contain less than 1” of residue in the bottom.

Disposing of Drums and Totes

To dispose of drums or totes, look up your local disposal site. Also, refer to Section 13 of the Safety Data Sheet for disposal considerations.

Disposing of Smaller Containers

To dispose of 5 gallon carboys, 1 gallon bottles, and other smaller containers, refer to Section 13 of the Safety Data Sheet. Depending on what the container was used for, some smaller containers may be able to be simply thrown away, while others may need to be disposed of in a safe manner.

With any further questions on disposal of empty chemical containers, call the EPA hotline (800.424.8802) or contact us for guidance.

Safety Spotlight: Choosing a Face Mask

December 31, 2020

Bandana? Disposable Surgical? Reusable Cloth? Neck Gaiter?

different types of face masks

The face mask is an important piece of PPE (personal protective equipment) that we all have to wear right now. But with so many different types, how do you know you’ve got a good one? Here are some pointers to help you determine how effective your mask is… and help you choose a better one if you need to!

Weave, fit, layers… all of these matter. Masks must be made with a tighter weave (higher thread count) cloth to be effective. To work well, the mask needs to fit your face snugly. And masks with more layers can make for greater protection.

  1. The Disposable Surgical Mask. This mask consistently ranks well. Made of non-woven fabric, a magnifying glass reveals a solid wall of protection. With no holes to allow droplets to pass through, and a bendable metal nosepiece for a snugger fit, the disposable surgical mask is often ranked #1. This is a mask that can be made better, however; one study found that by sealing the mask to your face with a nylon band, 90% of small particles were blocked versus 50 – 75% without. Clearly, anything that makes for a better seal around your face will help.
  2. The Reusable Cloth Mask. There are many types of washable masks, made from cotton, polyester, other materials or blends. These reusable masks can be non-effective or very effective, so choose your reusable mask carefully. What to look for? A tight weave, more layers, and a snug fit. To get an idea of how tightly the cloth is woven, you can hold the mask up to a light. If light can get through the material, droplets can too.
  3. The Neck Gaiter. Tests have found that the neck gaiter is typically not very effective. Thinner materials and/or a single layer make a poor barrier. To test the quality of your neck gaiter, try blowing out a candle with it on. If the candle blows out, your neck gaiter fails the quality test!
  4. The Bandanna. The classic cotton bandana also is a poor performer. You may feel protected, but the cotton is too thin, and tests show it’s not doing much- if anything.
  5. The Vented Mask. Also not recommended. The vents have been found to do a poor job of filtering and essentially render the mask useless.

After you have found a good mask that you are comfortable in, the most important thing is- don’t forget to wear it!

Safety Spotlight: Work From Home Ergonomics

September 29, 2020

As many employees continue to work from their home, part or full time, we spotlight the all-important topic of ergonomics.

As our home offices were hastily set up last spring, a thing like ergonomics may not have been our highest priority. There was a lot of uncertainty about the future (i.e. how long our work from home offices would be needed). Now, however, as many employees have found a new normal that includes the use of a home office, it’s time to make sure we’re not hurting ourselves.

So, where do we start?

  1. First, grab your chair. Sit down. Your feet should be supported, resting on the floor, with your knees at a nice 90 degree angle. Now, notice what kind of back support your chair has, if any. If you’re using an office chair with built in support, make sure the part of the chair meant to support your back is in the correct position, at the small of your back. If no back support is offered, a simple solution may be to place a rolled up towel at the small of your back.
  2. Second, position your keyboard. Scoot your chair up to your table or desk. When you place your hands on your keyboard, they should be resting comfortably with your elbows at 90 degree angles. Your wrists should not be pressed against the hard corners of your desk, or your arms reaching upward. If the keyboard is too high, you may need to raise the height of your chair (if using an adjustable office chair) and use a footstool to support your feet. Or, it may be necessary to find a different table or desk that is the correct height.
  3. Finally, adjust your screen. Make sure your screen is not positioned too low. Ideally, your eyes should line up approximately with the upper third of your screen. Laptop users may find it necessary to purchase a separate keyboard/mouse or screen to get both the keyboard and the screen at the correct height. A simple stack of books or a container can serve as a stand for your laptop or separate screen to raise it up to the optimum height.

Safety Spotlight: CORECHEM & COVID-19 Compliance

June 15, 2020

Work from Home. Virtual Meetings. Disinfecting Procedures. Sick Policy. Social Distancing.

Love it or hate it, COVID-related terminology is now everyday, all-the-time lingo in 2020! As companies seek to reopen, or bring employees back into the office that have been working off site, workplaces everywhere are being re-thought. How will employees be safe in our workplaces?

Here are the steps CORECHEM has taken so far in our efforts to keep employees safe, and stay COVID-19 compliant.

Disinfecting Procedures: Procedures for disinfecting our offices were put into place in early March. These procedures will continue to be followed diligently as more employees return to work.

Sick Policy: A new sick policy was also put into place in early March, requiring sick employees to stay home from work.

Working from Home: Been there, done that. The majority of the office staff at CCI have been working from home since the middle of March.

Virtual Meetings: You bet! While working from home, we have had plenty of hands on experience using our various virtual meetings platforms: Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.

Social Distancing: Aaaaaand…. this is where it gets kind of exciting! Since our sales office did not allow for ample space between employees while at their desk, renovations have been taking place while the office is empty! Employees in the newly renovated downstairs sales office look forward to being much more socially distant from their coworkers when they return to work.

Hopefully, these and all measures currently being taken around the world will be effective at shortening the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime, here’s to staying safe this summer!


 

July 7, 2020 Update:

Safety Spotlight: Preventing Chemical Contamination

April 7, 2020

Chemical contamination, like virus contamination, usually happens unconsciously.

Tiny amounts of material get on our hands or gloves, and spread to everything we touch- door knobs, our face, our lunch. Preventing the spread of chemical contaminates takes an arson of weaponry, and starts by reading the SDS and labels that will tell how to protect yourself. Persons that regularly work with toxins, corrosives, and other hazardous chemicals need to be intimately familiar with the subject of chemical contamination.

Chemical contaminates enter your body in four major ways:

  1. Inhalation – breathe in airborne particles or fumes
  2. Eye Contact – comes in contact with your eyes, often via your hands
  3. Skin Contact – may happen through absorption or injection
  4. Ingestion – eat it, i.e. after unconsciously contaminating your food.

In order to prevent chemical contaminates from entering our bodies, there are three main measures that we can take:

  1. Personal Protective Equipment – Anticipate the hazards you are working with when considering what PPE to wear, and use all the PPE needed to protect yourself adequately. PPE should be carefully inspected for tears, and should be a good fit. Remember that liquid can make rubber gloves permeable, so they should be changed every couple of hours; see this helpful guide, How To Remove Gloves.
  2. Engineering Controls – Equipment such as splash guards and ventilation hoods in a laboratory or workstation can protect employees from contamination hazards.
  3. Safe Work Practices – Mindfulness and good housekeeping practices go a long way toward preventing chemical contamination:
    • Before starting a procedure, have a plan for clean up or disposal. Be careful about what you pour down the drain.
    • Where possible, use smaller containers, and store chemicals when they’re not being used.
    • Avoid nervous habits like touching your face.
    • PPE and supplies such as office supplies that are used around chemicals should be considered contaminated and left in the work area.
    • Uncontaminated objects, such as food or drink, should never be brought into the work area.
    • Never mix contaminates with uncontaminated objects or areas.
    • Surfaces and equipment, as well as your hands, should be washed up when you’re done using chemicals.
    • Clean up any spills immediately.

 

Safety Spotlight: Using a Safety Data Sheet

December 27, 2019

For our end-of-year Safety Spotlight, we’re taking a look at the all-important Safety Data Sheet!

A Safety Data Sheet, or SDS, contains all of the need-to-know information about a chemical in sixteen sections, conveniently arranged in need-to-know order. All of the information you may need in the event of an emergency is covered in the first six sections. The information that will help you to prevent an emergency from occurring in the first place, starts at Section 7.

This format was developed by the United Nations, and is called the Globally Harmonized System, or GHS. Although compliance with GHS is voluntary, it has been adopted by OSHA in the United States, as well as most industrialized countries.

Here are the four questions an SDS addresses, along with the corresponding sections:

  1. What is the chemical and what are its hazards?
    • Section 1- Product & Company Information
    • Section 2- Hazards Identification
    • Section 3- Composition / Information on Ingredients
  2. What should I do if a problem occurs while working with this chemical?
    • Section 4- First-Aid Measures
    • Section 5- Fire-Fighting Measures
    • Section 6- Accidental Release Measures
  3. What precautions should I take to prevent problems while working with this chemical?
    • Section 7- Handling and Storage
    • Section 8- Exposure Controls
    • Section 9- Physical & Chemical Properties
    • Section 10- Stability & Reactivity
  4. Is there anything else I should know about this chemical?
    • Section 11- Toxicological information
    • Section 12- Ecological Information
    • Section 13- Disposal Considerations
    • Section 14- Transportation Information
    • Section 15- Regulatory Information
    • Section 16- Other Information

Team CORECHEM is committed to helping your company stay safe in the New Year. If you’re missing Safety Data Sheets for the chemicals being used in your facility, you can find them on our product pages, or feel free to contact us by phone or email.

Safety Spotlight: Chemical Release Preparedness

September 25, 2019

Aaa, September! In addition to thinking about all things fall, it’s National Preparedness Month. We wanted to be prepared, and help you be prepared, for chemical spills & releases in the workplace.

How do you prepare for a chemical release in the workplace? First and foremost, employees should be familiar with all of the chemicals they work with, as well as their hazards and potential hazards. This information is on the label and the SDS.

If a spill should occur, here are are the questions you should ask yourself:

A) Is it hazardous, or will there be a hazardous reaction because of the release?

If the chemical is an immediate risk, leave the area immediately. You will want to note details such as type of chemical, quantity, and location, and report as quickly as possible. Follow the procedure in your company’s emergency plan for this type of emergency. This may involve measures such as sounding an alarm, evacuating, closing doors, blocking entrances, or wearing an emergency respirator. If the material is flammable, ignition sources in the area should be shut down. The spill will need to be cleaned up by professionals.

B) How big is it? Is it controlled? If not, can it be safely controlled?

If the release is uncontrolled, and you can do so in a safe manner, the first thing you will want to do is stop the release. If it cannot be contained or controlled in a safe manner, it will need to be cleaned up by professionals. Mark the area with a sign, or barricade it to keep workers away until it has been cleaned up.

C) Do you have the equipment, material, and training to clean up the release?

The appropriate material to clean up the release may consist of disposal containers, PPE, a sufficient quantity of the appropriate absorbent material, water, and/or a neutralizing or deactivating chemical, depending on the unique properties of the chemical released. These materials, and/or spill kits, should be stored close to where an accident may occur. Mock spill cleanups can be held (with water) to familiarize employees with the company’s release response procedure.