Chapter 6. Chemical Storage in DIYbio

When building your first lab, it’s tempting to follow the same chemical storage system you had in grad school. But each school’s unique categorization (e.g., Group A, Storage Group 02, and Code Blue) is like a foreign language to a local fire marshal or Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) rep. Trust me—you don’t want those inspections to be any harder than they have to be. Following a few simple guidelines will help keep your lab safe and inspection-ready.

Step 1: Assess

First, get a general sense of the chemicals you need (or will need) to store. You don’t need to do a full inventory; just identify what requires refrigeration, how much flammable solvent (e.g., ethanol or isopropanol) you want to have around, and what can be stored at room temperature.

Step 2: Shop

If you have any flammable solvents, you should consider purchasing a flammable-storage cabinet. You can store a certain quantity (give or take 10 liters5) on the bench, but it’s best practice to keep everything but your squirt bottles in a proper flammable-storage cabinet. You can get a flammable-storage cabinet on eBay (we certainly have), but make sure it has locking handles and, preferably, self-closing doors.

If you need any compressed gases (for example, CO2 for a cell-culture incubator), purchase wall bracket(s) and chains for securing the gas tanks before you buy them. You’ll want at least two chains for security: one around the middle-top and one around ...

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