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Posts tagged with "How Not to Do It"

  • How Not to Do It

    How Not to Do It: Chromium Trioxide

    Note: this was a post on my old blog site, and never made the migration over to the current “In the Pipeline”. I was reminded of it this morning, and thought I’d bring it more out into the light. There are reports (updated here – DBL) that Mars may have hexavalent chromium compounds in its… Read More
  • Graduate School

    Accident Report, or One Damn Thing After Another

    I have this from a lab-accidents-I-have-known discussion over on Reddit. It is, of course, unverified, but it’s depressingly plausible. As a chemist, this one is guaranteed to make you bury your head in your hands – it’s the second law of thermodynamics come to take vengeance, with the entropy increasing as you go along: “A… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    Ten Tons of Sodium And Just One Lake

    Via on Twitter (and that via C&E News), I bring you the definitive what-are-we-going-to-do-with-all-this-sodium video. The end of World War II brought all kinds of material disposal problems – you may have seen footage of virtually new airplanes being dumped into the sea and the like. Some of those disposal problems are still with us… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    When Reagents Attack!

    Well, since I was just talking about a reagent that can potentially take off without warning, I wanted to solicit vivid experiences from the crowd. What’s a compound that you’ve made that did something violently unexpected? I can recall making some para-methoxybenzyl chloride in grad school (for a protecting group; I was running out of… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    Storage of Industrial Chemicals, Gone Rather Wrong

    What do you have when a fire starts at a large chemical packing company, handling all sorts of oils, paints, coatings, and various industrial chemicals? Where they have hundreds of thousand-liter containers stored, surrounded by all the crates and packing material used to trans-ship them? You have this, at Chemie-Pack in the Netherlands yesterday:… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    How Not To Do It: Hydrogen Gas Mixtures

    Culturing bacteria is usually a pretty quiet affair. Bacteria aren’t too noisy, and the equipment used to keep them happy isn’t too dangerous. But there are exceptions. If you’re going to culture anaerobes, you need somewhat more advanced technique, what with all that oxygen-is-deadly business. A professional-grade culture chamber… Read More
  • Chemical News

    Max Gergel’s Memoirs

    For once, I’m going to farm out a “Things I Won’t Work With” post to someone else. For those who missed it in the comments, here’s the link to the PDF of Max Gergel’s extraordinary memoir “Excuse Me Sir, Would You Like to Buy a Kilo of Isopropyl Bromide?” Gergel founded Columbia Organic Chemicals, and… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    How Not to Do It: Acetylene Cylinders

    For Friday lunchtime, I have a brief but alarming video clip from a 2007 incident in Dallas, where a fire started at a company supplying industrial gases to welding shops and the like. The incident was heralded, like so many others, by the simple but meaningful phrase “I hooked up something wrong”. This as smoke… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    Phthalate: A Natural Product? Sure ‘Bout That?

    In case anyone missed it, a commenter on this post unearthed a really extraordinary find in the chemical literature. Here’s an obscure isolation paper, from an obscure Chinese journal, reporting on a profoundly boring list of marine natural products. What’s so great, you ask? Well, take a look at the list. Dum de dum. . Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    How Not to Do It: Liquid Oxygen Cylinders

    We haven’t had a How Not to Do It around here in a while, so here’s a companion piece to the famous Sealed-Up Liquid Nitrogen Tank. This incident happened (as far as I can tell) about ten years ago. It’s been used in a number of safety presentations then, thanks to the Airgas Corp., whose… Read More