Peroxidizable Compounds

Peroxidized Ether Peroxide Formations in solvents and reagents have been the cause of many accidents. Explosive peroxides form by the reaction of a peroxidizable material with molecular oxygen through a process called autoxidation or peroxidation. Isopropyl ether, ethyl ether, dioxane and tetrahydrofuran are the most commonly found peroxidizable compounds. Under normal storage conditions these materials can form and accumulate peroxide formations, which may violently detonate when subjected to thermal or mechanical shock. It is of the utmost importance that old containers of peroxidizable material not be opened. The act of opening the container could cause a detonation of peroxide crystals under the cap or other closure.

The bottle on the left contains a hard crystallized peroxide formation which was formed from isopropyl ether while sitting on a shelf in a hospital laboratory.

Peroxide Crystals

The crystals at the right, from the bottle above, auto detonated shortly after this photo was taken.

Peroxide Crystals

The container at the left was located next to the other bottle on the same laboratory shelf and was safely detonated using an electric blasting cap.


The resulting detonation left a crater in the ground approximately three foot wide by one foot deep !

The material shown above was capable of causing a fatality if not handled properly. If you suspect that you have a peroxidized material at your facility, do not open or handle the container. Contact a professional with adequate personal protective equipment and technical expertise for handling a potentially explosive material.

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