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General Rules for Chemical Storage

First, identify any specific requirements regarding the storage of chemicals from (1) local, State, and Federal regulations and (2) insurance carriers.

Criteria for Storage Area

  • Store chemicals inside a closeable cabinet or on a sturdy shelf with a front-edge lip to prevent accidents and chemical spills; a ¾-inch front edge lip is recommended.
  • Secure shelving to the wall or floor.
  • Ensure that all storage areas have doors with locks.
  • Keep chemical storage areas off limits to all students.
  • Ventilate storage areas adequately.


  • Organize chemicals first by COMPATIBILITY—not alphabetic succession .
  • Store alphabetically within compatible groups.

Chemical Segregation

  • Store acids in a dedicated acid cabinet. Nitric acid should be stored alone unless the cabinet provides a separate compartment for nitric acid storage.
  • Store highly toxic chemicals in a dedicated, lockable poison cabinet that has been labeled with a highly visible sign.
  • Store volatile and odoriferous chemicals in a ventilated cabinet.
  • Store flammables in an approved flammable liquid storage cabinet .
  • Store water sensitive chemicals in a water-tight cabinet in a cool and dry location segregated from all other chemicals in the laboratory.

Storage Don'ts

  • Do not place heavy materials, liquid chemicals, and large containers on high shelves.
  • Do not store chemicals on tops of cabinets.
  • Do not store chemicals on the floor, even temporarily.
  • Do not store items on bench tops and in laboratory chemical hoods, except when in use.
  • Do not store chemicals on shelves above eye level.
  • Do not store chemicals with food and drink.
  • Do not store chemicals in personal staff refrigerators, even temporarily.
  • Do not expose stored chemicals to direct heat or sunlight, or highly variable temperatures.

Proper Use of Chemical Storage Containers

  • Never use food containers for chemical storage.
  • Make sure all containers are properly closed.
  • After each use, carefully wipe down the outside of the container with a paper towel before returning it to the storage area. Properly dispose of the paper towel after use.

This information is from the School Chemistry Laboratory Safety Guide created by the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission (CPSC), Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

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