Peroxide-forming Chemicals

Updated November 20, 2013


General Information:

  • EHS SOP (EHS-0042) is located on the EHS Website (
  • Includes many common solvents and reagents which are known to form organic peroxides on exposure to air (THF, Ethers, IPA, Dioxanes, Styrene, 2-Hexanol, etc)
  • Highly flammable, low-power explosives that are very sensitive to shock, sparks, elevated temperatures, light, strong oxidizing and reducing agents, and friction, such as a cap being twisted open
  • Distillation, evaporation or other concentration of some peroxide-forming chemicals can present a high risk of explosion.
  • May be inhibited or uninhibited. (this will likely be indicated on the chemical container)
  • Inhibition slows but does not eliminate peroxide formation
  • BHT, hydroquinone and diphenyl amine are inhibitors used
  • EHS SOP includes key dates for safe usage of chemical & allowable peroxide levels for waste disposal (i.e. </=20ppm)

Lab’s Responsibilities:

Before purchase:

  •  Read MIT EHS SOP on Peroxide Forming Chemicals.
  •  Determine amount you need and check inventory before ordering.
  •  Order only what you need. They have a short shelf life.
  •  Determine if inhibited chemicals can be used.

Upon receiving chemical:

  • Check for manufacturer’s expiration date & inhibitor info on the container
  •  Put received date on container. 
  • Add information to inventory.
  • Store away from light, in flammable storage cabinet, flammable storage refrigerator, or other appropriate location/container.
  • Indicate at storage location presence of peroxide formers. (best practice)
  • Use or Dispose of openproduct (without testing) by manufacturer’s expiration date or based on receive date, if reached first, as indicated below:
    • w/in 24 hours for un-inhibited chemicals in Group C (SOP)
    • w/in 1 year for inhibited chemicals in Group C (SOP)
    • w/in 3 months for chemicals in Group A (SOP)
    • w/in 1 year for all chemicals in Group B & D (SOP)
    • w/in 5 years for 2-Propanol / Isopropanol (IPA)
  • Use or Dispose of unopenedproduct (without testing):
    • by manufacturer’s expiration date, OR
    • w/in 12 months of receive date forall chemicals in SOP if reached first
  • Test containers for peroxides if they are beyond the recommended dates or if no dates are indicated on bottles in inventory.
    • Examine bottle. If solids or crystals have formed do not attempt to test! Contact EHS!
    • No need to test waste streams prior to disposal request, provided the concentration is <25%, by volume, of total waste stream (not IPA streams)
  • Peroxide test strips available from JT Baker (4416-01) through VWR
  • Examine bottle carefully for possible crystals or particles in bottle or around the cap
  • Lab should test containers before use if expiration dates have been received or containers are no longer wanted & if waste stream is >25%, by volume, concentration of a peroxide forming chemical (not applicable to IPA waste streams)
  • If </= 20 ppm, place red tag on container, indicate peroxide levels,  and request disposal or bring to MAA
  • If > 20 ppm, contact EHS
  • If at any time a researcher does NOT feel comfortable testing the container they should not attempt this and should contact EHS for assistance. 
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