Safety equipment, PPE, for handling acids
DO YOU NEED TO USE ANY SAFETY EQUIPMENT WHEN TESTING GOLD WITH ACIDS?
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The following is my personal opinion.
It has been traditional for many many years, for jewellers to show that they are real jewellers by showing how badly burnt their fingers are, it looks as if they are stained yellow from heavy smoking.
Whilst tiny drops of acid only burn the surface of the skin and cause no other harm (not enough to burn through the skin) and the skin does grow back in a few days - it is not necessary to burn yourself. It should be a matter of pride that you never burn yourself. And if you manage a jewellers, it is an absolute no-no to allow your staff to be burnt!
So please do buy some of these acid-proof gloves. These are special acid-proof nitrile gloves (not rubber gloves) and they only cost a few pennies each.
Required? Probably not.
I can't actually see how it's possible to splash acid from one of our plastic bottles with a dropper. However, have seen a security video of someone dropping an open glass bottle and splashing acid in their face. So if you are using glass bottles, and want to take extra precautions, buy either goggles or a face visor.
When you read, in the official COSHH safety data sheets, that protective clothing and a respirator should be worn, they are referring to an accident caused by a road tanker spilling its load of acid, not to handling a teaspoon-full. The precautions you take must be relative to the risk. Here in the laboratory we use respirators with anti-acid filters (a dust mask will not work!) which cost us £150.00 each - just in case we have an accident involving several litres of acid. We do not sell these, you will never need one when testing gold, not even if you spill the entire bottle of acid.
FIRE PRECAUTIONS. A standard warning is, "Keep the chemicals away from combustible materials".
So I had to ask a safety expert, "Combustible materials? Like what??"
The testing acids are not inflammable (they don't catch fire) and the main 'combustibility' is that it can fizz and splatter in water.
The answer was: combustible materials such as wood and paper can catch fire, and then the building will catch fire, and fire is hot, and hot acid is more dangerous than cold acid.