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Chemical storage question

I keep all these in one drawer in the cheap thrifted desk I use as a workbench. I stopped making jewelry for about 6 months, and yesterday, when I came back to look for something I opened the drawer with all these things in it and the thin MDF or particleboard bottom had melted out and collapsed. The cardboard sixpack holder that I use to store the smaller bottles had also dissolved. I’m curious about what caused this and if storing these things in the same drawer is causing some kind of chemical reaction. None of the bottles appear to be leaking, but as you can see, the lubricant for my tumbler has a weird crust all over it.
Does anybody have any ideas about how to prevent this? Are there safety concerns I’m missing?

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How much humidity has there been where you are in the past month?

Most of your containers look o.k. Could your tumbler lubricant be hygroscopic? That is, absorb water from the air? Enough so it overflowed?

Was there some spilled powder that didn’t seem a big deal to you that may have absorbed humidity? That’s the kind of thing I’d be looking for.

I doubt any chemical reaction from the items you show, especially with closed containers and intact plastic bags.

Neil A

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The Sparex bag has some tears in it and the powder is solidified at the bottom (I basically have to use a hammer and pick to break off a chunk when I use it). Plus, this all happened in a garage of an older building in an area that gets a moderate amount of rain in the fall and winter, so I think you’re on to something with the humidity. Sounds like I just need to be tidier in general. Thanks!

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I see Sparex in a double plastic bag. I can guess that it is the problem. Bags are full of pores and eventually small particles can leak out of them. I would recommend putting the Sparex in a glass jar if you can.


You might also consider using a photo chemical tray that fits on the shelf/in the cabinet. It’s an affordable and reliable way to effectively contain any spills.

I’ve also found that if I cut a disc of craft foam to fit inside metals lids it keeps the contents from reacting with metal, thereby reducing the occurrence of rust.



I practice second containment. I use pH plus, a pool chemical which is the same thing as Sparex, i.e sodium acid sulfate. It comes a sturdy plastic bottle and store it, borax. sodium bicarbonate and gun black in a plastic bin with a lid.

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Of all the chemicals I see there there is a hydrochloride acid ( in the patina ) , citric acid in you’re burnishing compound and sodium by sulfate in the sparex , do t really know what’s in you’re fluxes but anything with ammonia in there will react with strong acids , as a cenar al rule keep reagents away from acids


Sparex packaging is a problem. They appear to be using low grade or old plastic material. Our last order to the store had at least 50% packages split on delivery. We needed to repackage the entire order.

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Some chemicals should not be stored together based on their properties and should be stored in secure metal cabinets. Also, I agree with Pam above, chemical trays are also a good idea. If you are using hygroscopic materials, you need to keep their area as dry as possible.

When you purchase your chemicals, it is always good to secure an SDS for them. And of course read them.

That’s how we handle stuff like this in a lab I work in. Hope this helps.


The wood (particle board) that you are storing on is very hygroscopic and the glue not exterior grade and will adsorb moisture but especially if you spill hygroscopic materials on it e.g. Sparex or salt.
In the labs I managed we tried to avoid any metal storage of acids as they always eventually corroded all our cabinets. Most acids and acidic compds are safely stored in polyethylene. (Glass etching hydrofluoric acid is exceedingly dangerous as it likes to migrate through your skin to react with bone calcium. PPE always! and obviously no glass!)
Sparex is a “weak acid” but still corrosive to metal and will dissolve the oxides and fluxes we use. But because it is a ‘weak acid’ relatively less dangerous than stronger acids

HCl, H2SO4 and HNO3 and Sparex OK in glass but no metal tops unless protected with PE or PP plastic. Acid fumes from these solutions are both noxious, and corrosive when they contact moist metalic surfaces, so tight seals. I store my concentrated HCL 1 gallon bottle (muriatic acid) in a covered plastic pail. Keeping down the vapor corrosion of my tools.
Generally, plastic bags should be OK to store Sparex (Sodium Bisulfate)…Thicker bags better than thinner.
Organic solvents are stored in metal…
Avoid Nylon/rayon as they decompose in HCl.

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Here’s a link to an informative article by Charles Lewton Brain