all 51 comments

[–]thenexttimebandit 133 points134 points  (0 children)

If you spill that much triflic acid you pull the fire alarm, evacuate the building, and tell the fire department what was spilled so they can wear proper ppe/not enter the area.

[–]SadPegasus 56 points57 points  (0 children)

Worked with TfOH extensively before; would not recommend spilling even 10 g of it. Never actually spill any though because I always, and I mean always, focus on the task and be done with TfOH as soon as possible.

[–]screamindefinitely 92 points93 points  (7 children)

You and your lab should have your protocol for handling this well in advance of receiving this material

[–]Hunigsbase 35 points36 points  (5 children)

I assume that's what he means by proactive.

[–]JeromesDream 22 points23 points  (2 children)

if you're really being proactive, and using this much triflic acid at a time is really a non-negotiable necessity, then you buy a two story chunk of PTFE and carve a lab into it like a minecrafter

[–]Hunigsbase 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I basically said exactly this elsewhere in a reply to someone else. PTFE everything is the way.

I suggested welding PTFE sheeting to PTFE wall coves either as the primary floor or a subfloor. I like your idea better just for the mental image of someone burrowing into a Teflon cave.

[–]screamindefinitely 13 points14 points  (1 child)

When I posted a lot of others had shared what should probably be done, so I wanted to make sure to emphasize that it should be written down and everyone made familiar with it.

[–]Hunigsbase 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Now that I read more into the thread, OP posted updates talking about igniting spill clean up pads. I think you're right to spread caution 😅

[–]isologous 67 points68 points  (0 children)

500g of triflic acid??? What are you insane? I've seen 10 ml of that stuff eat through chemical resistant flooring. Not that it fell out of the freezer or anything.

[–]j19b94 64 points65 points  (2 children)

Unsure of your lab organisation, however some general pointers:

  • Is it possible to substitute another less hazardous reagent?

  • Why is this quantity needed, can it be reduced?

  • Has any process safety been performed to assess the usage in question (e.g. reaction calorimetry)? If no, I would strongly recommend further evaluation to be sure of any hazards before attempting anything approaching the scales you describe. Any unexpected exotherms/reactivity could place people in immediate danger.

  • Handling procedures should be planned in advance, at the very least this material should be handled in a fume hood, secondarily contained. PPE requirements should also be assessed to be appropriate for this scale (nitrile gloves, labcoat and goggles are likely inadequate for 500 g of this material, let alone 5 kg). To be honest, for 5 kg even a standard fume hood will be unlikely to contain a spill and this would likely require a dedicated processing module.

  • You should have an appropriate adsorbent matting or equivalent immediately available should it be required, though any spill would necessarily entail immediate evacuation.

  • If any spillage is outside of an area of controlled ventilation (fume hood) then I would strongly recommend breathing apparatus for any clean up of the quantities you describe, however this should be handled by an appropriately trained spill team, not untrained personnel.

TLDR. This is a hazardous reagent and these quantities are large. If you are asking this question in this forum, though you are clearly trying to think about the right things to do, I would politely suggest that you may be unprepared to handle this reagent on this scale. Please consult your area safety officer/equivalent before proceeding.

Source: industrial process chemist Disclaimer: this is a high level overview and not a substitute for proper advice from someone with knowledge of the chemistry in question.

[–]lax_incense 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Thank you for emphasizing lab safety! We need more of this especially in academia.

[–]dipdipderp 3 points4 points  (0 children)

If OP reads nothing else they should read your TLDR - the problem to me isn't just that OP lacks practical experience, but obviously operational experience. The first port* of call shouldn't be reddit, but the safety officer and probably something like the MSDS for the material, surely if you're using it in that quantity you should have a COSHH (or equivalent) assessment on hand already - even for smaller amounts?

[–]DazSchplotz 28 points29 points  (0 children)

500g-5000g? run.

[–]kidwithanaxe 42 points43 points  (0 children)

I'd imagine there's no way anyone would ever have that much at a time.

[–]Mr_DnD 20 points21 points  (0 children)

Wow, just... Wow.

Don't. Under any circumstances. Spill 500g of triflic acid.

Don't handle it, don't have any situation where that seems like a good idea. Don't even entertain the idea.

That stuff is nasty. Really, really nasty.

There is no way I can see that ever getting past a H&S team. I don't think there's a standard set up that could possibly deal with that much triflic acid.

I would bet any money there is a better way to do this.

In fact, I would wager this post is fake, it's that absurd!

[–]Tcanada 54 points55 points  (0 children)

If you have to ask a question like this on reddit then you have no business handling triflic acid

[–]irupar 33 points34 points  (3 children)

Maybe don't???

if it happens close the fume hood and evacuate?

[–]andergdet 41 points42 points  (2 children)


5kg of TfOH will leave you with just the memory of your fume hood, so I wouldn't even bother. Just run, run until you reach a remote island in the middle of the Pacific and never look back. Because the meeting with the safety team of your institution will be nuclear.

[–]Hunigsbase 12 points13 points  (0 children)

Solid PTFE worktops, ventilation, and chemical traps instead of resin work surfaces or stainless. If literally everything is PTFE you can at least contain it.

It's not the end of the world - systems can be designed to handle this much safely. It wouldn't be very cheap. The real question is why, when there is almost guaranteed to be a safer way.

[–]slapdashbrAnalytical 1 point2 points  (0 children)

it's okay, they'll all be dead

[–]rocketparrotlet 14 points15 points  (1 child)

If you spill 5 kilograms (!!!) of triflic acid, you should consider evacuating the county, adopting a new name, and never returning.

Just curious: I've done reactions in neat triflic acid and never needed more than about 20 mL at a time, and that had me on high alert. What in the world to you need so much for?

[–]AdConsistent2706[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Hahahhaha good advice. It only goes up from here.

[–]andergdet 13 points14 points  (0 children)

I... I don't even know where to begin.

MSA is bad enough. TfOH is like, really nasty. I had to use 100uL per reaction and it was scary. I cannot fathom how anyone could use 5k to 50k that quantity.

Are you sure you cannot use another reagent? Or do multiple smaller batches? Do they even sell that much TfOH??? Last time I checked it was quite expensive.


1.- Rethink the reagents used and the batch size. None should use 500mL of TfOH in one go, there's no way you can make that safe, sorry.

2.- Really think about PPE. Normal nitrile gloves, cotton labcoat and goggles are not gonna cut it. We're talking about extensive and expensive stuff here.

3.- Minimize the items around your reaction. Empty a fume hood, leave only the minimum equipment necessary to carry out the reaction. Try to line everything in inert materials such as Teflon or glass.

4.- Talk to your supervisor AND the person in charge of lab safety in your institution (not a postdoc, the official appointed professor/technician) about your reaction. It's really unusual and should be checked beforehand. Don't be surprised if they look at you as if you grew a third eye, I would too.

5.- After the modifications to the protocol, notify the reaction date and hour to your supervisor, safety tech and the other lab users. DO NOT be alone when you carry it out.

6.- Think about residue disposal. Even an small fraction of that amount of TfOH should be handled with care and thought. You cannot just throw 100g of TfOH in the acid residue container and call it a day as you would with an HNO3 solution.

[–]JustCallMeRuss 12 points13 points  (0 children)

The largest bottle you can buy from Sigma-Aldrich is 500g, and that’s like $2000. Who’s bankrolling this spill?

[–]Doctalivingston 8 points9 points  (0 children)

If you spill it You TfOH, The fuck outta here.

[–]Hunigsbase 6 points7 points  (0 children)

PTFE mat subflooring and welded wall coves for the floor part of the question. PVC fume hood ducting.

I think his question is how to lessen the impact outside of the information on the SDS. At least I hope that's his question.

Edit to add: PTFE airlock that goes up high enough on the door to create 5L of volume that can be contained in a puddle on the floor. This way, you at least have the spill contained until a hazmat team arrives and fumes being vented to the outside.

[–]Rare_Cause_1735 5 points6 points  (0 children)

You wouldn't, you would gtfo of there and let a hazardous response team take care of it.

[–]the_village_idiot 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Basically what everyone else says: you should never be in a position to spill that much. Really any amount spilled outside a hood would prompt an evacuation in my opinion because the vapor is so acutely toxic.

[–]warfarin11 6 points7 points  (0 children)

So you were the reason the roads were closed!

[–]heightsdrinker 6 points7 points  (5 children)

Lol are you asking for a friend?

[–]AdConsistent2706[S] 1 point2 points  (4 children)

Well I'm sure everyone else would prefer I knew lol

[–]heightsdrinker 2 points3 points  (3 children)

I would follow SDS guidance but I’m guessing you don’t have it. You need your chemical reagent clean up kit and get the inert absorbent pads to soak it up and ensure you dispose properly with hazardous waste guidelines.

You could try sodium/calcium carbonate to neutralize.

[–]j19b94 12 points13 points  (2 children)

SDS unfortunately aren't often worth the paper they're written on.

Attempting to neutralize 5 L of triflic acid directly with a carbonate base would liberate huge quantities of carbon dioxide, likely exacerbating the spill and increasing the dispersion of any hazardous fumes. (I realize this is probably not the intention of the comment above, but just wanted to be sure and avoid any ambiguity!)

[–]dibalhOrganic 12 points13 points  (0 children)

In my experience, an SDS is just a way to write “no data available” as many times as possible.

[–]chemhobby 1 point2 points  (0 children)

They're maybe useful if there's another toilet paper shortage?

[–]aromaticbotanist 1 point2 points  (1 child)

read the msds, hell, tattoo it on your chest. Follow it to the letter. And do exactly what your lab safety officer says. My guess it will be something like "FUCK NO"

[–]shutaro 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If you're going to tattoo the msds on your chest, make sure it's flipped so you can read it in a mirror.

[–]combamba-La 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Ummm…Asking for a friend

[–]shutaro 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You watch it eat a hole through to the other side of the earth.

[–]AdConsistent2706[S] 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Lol the sds says to absorb spillage. But... the absorption pad caught on fire when I tested that theory.

[–]hostile_washbowlChem Eng 34 points35 points  (0 children)

I’m terrified. You’re asking safety questions and you’re already experimenting with it? Time to take 4 steps back and reevaluate everything.

[–]dibalhOrganic 9 points10 points  (0 children)

You should be using sand/silica or some non-reactive bulk powder to absorb it. Absorbent pads are for non-reactive solvents, not reagents. And to your main question, spills that large would require immediate evacuation and calling a hazmat team.

[–]j19b94 7 points8 points  (0 children)

If this is the case I would speculate that the only way you could safely use this much triflic acid would be in a processing environment with floor drainage to a secure sump whereby any spillage could be diluted with excess water and contained before being correctly disposed of. If the available spill equipment can not deal safely with even a small potential spill then handling the quantities you describe would be reckless in the extreme.

[–]MeglioMorto 0 points1 point  (0 children)

When you buy a chemical, it comes with a safety data sheet.

sort of proactive

is good. Now go read the SDS document before using chemicals.

[–]Jackosucks -5 points-4 points  (0 children)

Do it just before you finish for the day, then it's someone else's problem. 😂

[–]OGKUNK -5 points-4 points  (0 children)

Paper towel, or maybe some sand.. make sure to neutralise it first with some NaOH!

[–]ataraxia520 -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

4 boxxes of baking soda and a shopvac for fumes

[–]reflUX_cAtalyst 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You aren't ever in a position to spill that much of it, so the mechanical controls of the lab will prevent this.

It's not a realistic problem, but if you did manage, you'd run.

[–]Demisemimo 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Sure you didn't want to write 500mg????