Chemicals can either be useful or dangerous. This is why safety precautions are employed in all chemical laboratories and these stringent measures are only appropriate to avoid life-threatening mistakes. Generally, substances are harmless under the appropriate conditions. When we speak of appropriate conditions we are considering the proper storage, right temperature and pressure in the storage area, and the handling. While handling and storage of chemicals should be done with care, the observance of precautions when mixing different substances is even more compelling.
Watch all the household chemicals, for instance, and you will understand that all these items come in solutions and mixtures of two or more ingredients. Mixtures and solutions are also quite important in many industrial sectors from agricultural chemical processing to chemical reagent preparations. In many processes calling for chemical mixing, mixing chemicals should be done in the most controlled procedures, often requiring sophisticated instruments and safety gears or protective suits.
There are many chemicals that are extremely hazardous. Mixing two or more substances can result to one of several types of reactions, all of which have one common feature and this is the production of new substances or new mixtures. Many useful chemicals have been manufactured through mixing of different chemicals. Various effects can happen when mixing substances though. These include precipitation of a new substance, evolution of heat, absorption of heat, and evolution of gas (if one of the products is a gaseous substance).
Of course, change in the color of the mixture is an apparent indication of a reaction happening. The matter with combination of two or more substances is that toxic chemicals or gases may be the products of the formerly inert substances. In other cases, some chemicals could react vigorously with the production of enormous heat, which in uncontrolled instances can set nearby objects on fire. One of the most hazardous effects of crude mixing of certain substances is that a rapid evolution of toxic fumes may result. Doing such procedure without proper gears and instruments could expose one to hazardous substance.
Companies that do substance mixing or chemical filling should ensure that the stringent procedures are followed to avoid fatal accidents from happening. A single mistake can risk the life of many. The education of workers is imperative. Everyone working in the area should understand the sheer danger of chemicals and the products upon mixing. The following of standard procedure is a basic necessity in any chemical labs. Safety apparatuses should be at hand. Protective suits must be worn if necessary and if chemicals that are to be handled are corrosive and toxic. Ventilation is a basic thing.
It is also imperative that industrial workers who are often exposed to certain chemicals know which chemicals to watch out for. Some of them may not exactly understand what the exposure could mean. Furthermore, some do not understand the basics in mixing certain substances safely. Of course, there is no need to remind the chemists and the chemical engineers, but they, too, should realize the repercussions of complacency.
As a general rule, anybody should not attempt to mix two or more unknown chemicals. Also avoid mixing household chemicals if you are unsure about the resulting products. There are certain chemicals at home that could generate dangerous gases when combined. For instance, bleach and ammonia may produce toxic chlorine and other irritating fumes that could render you unconscious. Even mixing some compounds with water should be done with precaution. For instance, mixing water and strong acids and alkaline can produce enormous quantities of heat.
If you are purchasing chemicals, always ask the dealer about the properties of the substances. Also inquire about the proper handling and storage as well as the possible hazards. This information may not come with the chemical packaging, chemical packing, or chemical specifications.