Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Nothing has exploded

I am currently in the midst of a project where I am using diethyl ether to extract the nonpolar lipids out of a bunch of crickets. The procedure is fairly simple: I dried the crickets for 4 days at 50 degrees Celsius, wrapped each cricket in a little twist of filter paper, and then added diethyl ether to each tube.

Over time, diethyl ether breaks down into a very explosive peroxide. If you have diethyl ether in your lab, it's a good idea to test it every couple of months to see whether or not it contains any peroxides. It's also best to just not keep it around, and order it fresh whenever it's needed. Since I don't work with it much, I wasn't sure about what to expect in that department. Someone had accidentally ordered a whole bunch of it about a year ago, though, so I figured I'd use up what was there.

While I was getting all of my samples set up, I noticed something strange happening in one sample where the twist of filter paper was sticking up above the level of the solvent: tiny, white crystals were forming. That made me kind of nervous, so I quickly screwed a cap onto all of the tubes before leaving them for their first of three 24-hour soaks.

Reading further about diethyl ether, I learned that one of the warning signs that it has started to go bad is the formation of white crystals around the mouth of the bottle. Hmm, and ulp.

However, after even more reading, thinking, and discussion with three other people, I learned that the really dangerous sign is a slick of oily-looking byproducts on the surface of the diethyl ether. It also seems that it can take a long time for diethyl ether to reach a really dangerous state. Of course, having quantitative information via peroxide test strips would really be best, but that would also involve putting in an order and then waiting until the test strips arrive. All while time is growing increasingly precious.

I never saw any such oily slicks, so I concluded there didn't seem to be any big risks. And lo, nothing exciting happened when I continued to work with those tubes.

Regardless, I'll be glad when this small project is over, and I think it will be good to have used up all of the diethyl ether on hand.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1188523.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Latest Month

May 2019


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Naoto Kishi