Mysterious White Powder With Every Purchase

My colleague in the lab got a chemical delivered today. It was trimethylsilyl cyanide, so it came by truck as it is quite hazardous. It was a 25 gram bottle but the can it arrived in weighed considerably more than that and when he opened it we discovered why: it was filled with packing material.

Packing material is common enough in the chemical shipment arena, as it is not really a desirable outcome to have the bottle break in transit, especially when they contain highly toxic or reactive chemicals. Generally the packaging is in multiple layers, with packing peanuts or vermiculite.

Not so this package, with the weight of it mainly coming from a white powder, packed inside the can which contained the chemical itself and the can that the can was in. Really not taking any chances.

I probably wouldn’t have blogged on this if it were not for one additional fact: the white powder was not identified anywhere. Not on the outside of the box, not on either of the cans. And, unless my Google-fu has failed me (good chance), not anywhere on the company web-site either.

We concluded that it was something like sodium bicarbonate. Something mildly basic anyway, to prevent a release of cyanide gas. But that it was not identified anywhere astounded me. You can’t just send that much ‘mysterious white powder’ through the mail, surely?

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This entry was posted in safety.

5 comments on “Mysterious White Powder With Every Purchase

  1. Amazing lapse of good sense and likely protocol too. Even on the little desiccating packages they tell you what it is and how to dispose of it Good thing it was not shipped across a boarder.

  2. Who was the manufacturer?

  3. [...] update on the ‘mysterious white powder’ of my last post. It was the subject of some interest in the department today and we resolved to identify [...]

  4. [...] at Chemical Space, a mysterious white powder cushioning trimethylsilyl cyanide turned out to be sodium carbonate, and I’m with David in [...]

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