Most of the chemical waste generated in the organic lab falls into four categories:
a) Organic solids and liquids
b) Aqueous solutions
c) Inorganic solids
d) Substances that require special handling
Accordingly, there will always be at least three labeled beakers in the waste hood, one for each of the first three categories. Students must place all organic solvents and solids in the beaker labeled “organic waste.” Organic substances are those containing carbon in their structure. Examples of organic waste are solvents such as methylene chloride, ether, or alcohols. Organic solids include sulfanylamide and caffeine.
Many experiments result in formation of an aqueous layer that is not used and must be discarded. Accordingly, this and any other solutions involving water as the solvent must be placed in the beaker labeled “aqueous waste.”
Finally, some substances fall into the category of inorganic solids. Inorganic substances are those that do not contain carbon in their structure. Examples of inorganic solids commonly handled in the lab are sodium chloride, sodium sulfate, calcium chloride, alumina, and silica gel. These substances must go into the beaker labeled “inorganic solids.”
The last group is comprised of substances that require special handling. Instructions for the safe handling of this waste should be given as part of the experiment in which they are used, and a waste container should be provided for those experiments. Examples are insoluble organics such as Nylon, concentrated inorganic acids, and TLC plates. If you have waste that does not fit into any of the first three categories and/or are not clear as to how to handle it, please ask your instructor.
MISPLACED WASTE CREATES BIG PROBLEMS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO MUST HANDLE IT AFTER THE STUDENTS LEAVE THE LAB. IF IN DOUBT, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR INSTRUCTOR RATHER THAN CARELESSLY DUMPING WASTE INTO THE WRONG CONTAINERS.