How long does it take strong acid to burn fabric?

  • Thread starter cnidocyte
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I got some concentrated H2SO4 on my lab coat on monday and when I left the lab there was only a brown stain on the lab coat so I put it in my locker. The next day I noticed an acid burn on my t-shirt, obviously caused by some acid that seeped through the lab coat. I can't walk into the lab next monday with a bit acid burn on my lab coat so if its burned I'm gonna have to get a new one. Is it likely that there will be a hole burned through the lab coat by now or are lab coats more acid resistant than the average t-shirt?
 

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  • #2
Borek
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I bet if it is cotton you have a nice hole.
 
  • #3
I can't walk into the lab next monday with a bit acid burn on my lab coat
Acid burns and toxic looking stains are the mark of a lab coat.
A clean lab coat suggests either a first year or a theoretician.

Alkali are much worse for cotton, H2O2 will dissolve quite a large hole in your jeans before you feel it.
 
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These lab coats are 65% polyester, 35% cotton. Is polyester any more resistant to acids than cotton?

Alkali are much worse for cotton, H2O2 will dissolve quite a large hole in your jeans before you feel it.
I've felt the burns 5% H2O2 solutions cause from sterilising cuts with the stuff so I'm not surprised that that stuff can eat through fabric that rapidly. H2O2 fascinates me.
 
  • #5
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Bear in mind that your lab coat is not a shield, it's just a layer of protection. Poly/Cotton blends will protect you from most things in a classroom laboratory. When it comes to more aggressive chemicals, though, it's just a layer of protection that you can remove quickly if you need to.

Anyhow, I worked in the stockroom back when I was in school and I wore one of the student poly/cotton lab coats. After 2 years, I'd spilled just about every single acid and base solution on my lab coat, but nothing actually put holes in it.
 
  • #6
chemisttree
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These lab coats are 65% polyester, 35% cotton. Is polyester any more resistant to acids than cotton?
You should get rid of that lab coat. All lab coats should be 100% cotton. Polyester will melt into your flesh if it ever catches on fire. You won't like the melted poly burning and then imbedding itself into your charred flesh. Think about how the doc's are gonna remove it too! Ouch!

Cotton burns away cleanly without melting. Get rid of that poly lab coat and never buy one that's poly again.
 
  • #7
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You should get rid of that lab coat. All lab coats should be 100% cotton. Polyester will melt into your flesh if it ever catches on fire. You won't like the melted poly burning and then imbedding itself into your charred flesh. Think about how the doc's are gonna remove it too! Ouch!

Cotton burns away cleanly without melting. Get rid of that poly lab coat and never buy one that's poly again.
I'm going to have to disagree with that. If you're working with 60-70% Perchloric acid, for example, a spill onto cotton (or anything organic) is going to form sensitive organic perchlorates. If you even approach a hot plate, it will ignite. This is also true if you're doing an aromatic nitration with a nitric/sulfuric mixture.

Personally, I like my Nomex labcoat :D

In a perfect world, your choice of lab coat is going to depend on what you expect to be doing in your lab. Again, though: it's not a shield. If it's seriously contaminated (or on fire), it's best to rip it off as fast as possible and jump into the safety shower for good measure.

It's a lot easier to rip off a lab coat than it is to get out of ordinary street clothes.
 
  • #8
chemisttree
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I'm going to have to disagree with that. If you're working with 60-70% Perchloric acid, for example, a spill onto cotton (or anything organic) is going to form sensitive organic perchlorates. If you even approach a hot plate, it will ignite. This is also true if you're doing an aromatic nitration with a nitric/sulfuric mixture.

Personally, I like my Nomex labcoat :D
It's also true if you spill liquid rocket fuel on your coat. I've seen paper towels wet with rocket fuel and discarded into trash cans spontaneously ignite. Students rarely work with perchlorates. There is always a fire hazard. I guess if you have the money for the $80-$90 lab coat, go for it. Our Institute's Safety Office won't allow any polyester in our lab coats for fire safety reasons.
 

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