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Common Laboratory Chemicals That Form Organic Peroxides

See a list of common lab chemicals that form organic peroxides over time.

Each of the chemicals below can form dangerous organic peroxides over time. These chemicals require special storage, labeling, and handling.

The most common compound found in UCSD laboratories that consistently forms dangerous amounts of organic peroxides is diethyl ether.

Use the tables below to identify other peroxide formers in your chemical inventory. Note: Lists are illustrative but not exhaustive.

Classes of chemicals that can form peroxides upon aging

Class I:  Unsaturated materials, especially those of low molecular weight, may polymerize violently and hazardously due to peroxide initiation.
Acrylic acid Tetrafluoroethylene
Acrylonitrile Vinyl acetate
Butadiene Vinyl actylene
Chlorobutadiene (chloroprene) Vinyl chloride
Chlorotrifluoroethylene Vinyl pyridine
Methyl methacrylate Vinylidene chloride
Styrene  

Class II:  The following chemicals are a peroxide hazard upon concentration (distillation/ evaporation). A test for peroxide should be performed if concentration is intended or suspected.
Acetal Dioxane (p-dioxane)
Cumene Ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (glyme)
Cyclohexene Furan
Cyclooctene Methyl acetylene
Cyclopentene Methyl cyclopentane
Diacetylene Methyl-i-butyl ketone
Dicylopentadiene Tetrahydrofuran
Diethylene glycol dimethyl ether (diglyme) Tetrahydronaphthalene
Diethyl ether Vinyl ethers

Class III:  Peroxides derived from the following compounds may explode without concentration.
Organic Inorganic
  Divinyl ether   Potassium metal
  Divinyl acetylene   Potassium amide
  Isopropyl ether   Sodium amide (sodamide)
  Vinylidene chloride  

Source: "Prudent Practices in the Laboratory — Handling and Disposal of Chemicals," National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 1995, page 56.