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Make Your Lab Greener for Good!

By Bruce Wilson
Product Manager, Chemistry

Green chemistry. The term conjures different images for different people. Perhaps for the business minded, it’s chemistry dedicated to generating a lot of green-backs (dollars). For others, maybe it’s a huge cauldron of bubbling green goo with a who-knows-what-toxic vapor rising from the brew. In fact, it is neither of these, but read on and we will tell you how green chemistry can save you money and make your lab safer.

Green chemistry refers to the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, which, when followed, can help you minimize the hazardous substances used in your classroom. In our continuing effort to make your lab safer and greener, we offer several ways to reduce the quantity of hazardous chemicals in your lab—without sacrificing your students’ experience in chemistry. Your specific needs determine which option is best for you. But no matter the option you choose, you will improve the safety of your lab, make it greener, and maybe save money as well.

Green your lab with safer chemicals

Chemicals consistent with the principles of green chemistry are not directly toxic nor do they generate toxic waste. If you are going green, avoid chemicals with health, flammability, or reactivity (HFR) ratings of 3 or higher (noted in Carolina’s print catalog chemicals section and online on the product page) and substances regulated for shipping by the US Department of Transportation (DOT), indicated by diamond icons in the chemicals section and online.

We’ve made your selection easier by identifying green alternatives to hazardous chemicals in the “Notes” of our print and online catalogs’ chemical listings. For example, suppose you plan to purchase sodium nitrate, which our catalog icon identifies as an oxidizer regulated for shipping by DOT. The catalogs’ “Notes” list sodium chloride as a green replacement for sodium nitrate. Like sodium nitrate, sodium chloride is a water-soluble salt, yet it is not regulated by DOT and does not have an HFR rating of 3 or more. Whether the green suggestion will work for you depends on the application. If you are performing double-replacements reactions with sodium nitrate, and substitute sodium chloride, you will get nearly the same results at a much lower chemical-exposure risk and lower shipping costs.

Green your lab with smaller sizes that also reduce shipping costs

Buy enough chemical to last only 1 school year. Unexpected changes in curriculum, choice of experiments, or other circumstances outside your control may make the chemical obsolete in your lab next year. We offer many chemicals in small sizes at reasonable prices to help convert your chemical stockroom of aging chemicals to an organized space full of fresh chemicals. Smaller sizes can equal smaller shipping costs.

Buying smaller sizes of some hazardous chemicals saves on shipping expenses in another way as well. Substances that incur hazardous material shipping charges for larger quantities often ship without the hazardous material charge for smaller sizes (30 g, 30 mL). Look for these smaller sizes when choosing your chemicals.

Green your lab with ChemCapsules

Instead of preparing a common solution from bulk material, consider using a ChemCapsule, which contains the exact amount of chemical necessary to make a standard solution. Dissolve the capsule in deionized or distilled water to release the chemical; then mix to finish your solution. Not only do you reduce waste by preparing only the amount of substance needed, but ChemCapsules also save storage space compared to pre-mixed chemicals and are cost effective to ship.

Green your lab with solutions

Our ready-to-use solutions are pre-mixed for you. These solutions reduce your risk of exposure to pure bulk chemicals and save lab-prep time.

Green your lab with proportions

Perform your experiments on the smallest possible scale. Review the experiment to determine if you can reduce the scale. A qualitative experiment will probably scale down successfully. However, experiments demanding precise measurements may also accommodate reductions. Balance the objective with the chemical demand.

For more information

Go to Carolinachemistry.com for a complete list of chemical substitutions, a detailed explanation of green chemistry, the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, and other helpful safety information.