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Gallium Safety


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#1 C_Sagan_Returns

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 11:10 PM

I was reading the element collection thread and just discovered the ability of Gallium to melt at 86C. Descriptions said you could hold it in your hand and watch it melt!! Checking out the MSDS, I got a much different description...

http://www.espi-meta...s's/gallium.pdf

"SKIN: In case of contact, immediately wash with soap and plenty of water for at least 5 minutes. Remove contaminated clothing and shoes. Thoroughly clean contaminated clothing and shoes before reuse. Get medical attention if irritation develops or persists."

Does anyone have personal experience with handling Gallium?

Is it actually safe to play with for an extended period?

Are there any other kewl metals/elements that are safe to handle but have prudent MSDSs such as this?

Thanks,
CSR
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#2 hermanntrude

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 12:11 AM

gallium is mildly toxic, but is often considered non-toxic. It's not as bad as mercury, and mercury's not actually that bad as long as you dont eat it or breathe it. The trouble with gallium is that it wets the skin unlike mercury. it gets into the crevices in your skin and stains everythin it touches, so it;s nowhere near as much fun. It melts at 29.8C, which is equivalent to 86F. Any scientific document that still uses fahrenheit should be burned.

If you get gallium, i'd reccomend you only handle it wearing gloves. it'll still melt but you wont be risking anything.

here's a better MSDS
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#3 nitric

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 12:41 AM

in the guide i have(CRC Handbook of chemistry and physics) galium is a high toxic hazard
,which contradicts what ive heard, its one of the lesser stuied metal based on toxicity research(like the lantanides)
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#4 hermanntrude

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 02:34 AM

yes. In the MSDS I provided, it does say that the toxicity hasnt been thoroughly tested.
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#5 Gilded

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 06:46 AM

I've handled small amounts with bare hands a couple of times, it's quite fun but especially prolonged handling stains your skin quite a bit, like graphite from pencils does but a bit more persistently. Obviously, quite a bit of impurities from your skin stick to the metal making it look tarnished, so using gloves is recommended even if you don't care about possible skin mutations and a slow, painful death. :)
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#6 DrP

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 10:42 AM

One thing I noticed on that MSDS Hermantrude was that it says NOT to use CO2 extinguishers in a fire. Anyone know why not? CO2 is usually pretty good as it is inert and doesn't cause spitting like water on liquid fires. I can under stand why it may suggest no water, but why not CO2?
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#7 YT2095

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 10:59 AM

some things burn rather well in CO2, dry powder is usually the best to have around in a lab (at least that`s what I have in mine).
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#8 person

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 03:22 PM

CO2 can supply oxygen to elements and compounds that are stronger reducers than it such as magnesium , aluminium , Potassium etc. The element or compound then takes (reduces) the O2 part Of CO2 for oxidation leaving elemental Carbon.
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#9 DrP

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 04:54 PM

OK - yea - I just looked up Ga and CO2 on a chart of REDOX potentials and you're right. The Gallium reduces the carbon. I think to be safe, I'd perhaps not use CO2 on metalic fires in future, unless I have that table at hand...
http://en.wikipedia....rode_potentials
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#10 nitric

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 04:43 AM

The experiment ive done to show that was were you put some NaHSO4+NaHCO4 [CO2 source] and after awhile put in a short strip of burning Mg, theres usually a small pop and some carbon left on the inside of the test tube, if you managed to get Ga to burn same would most likely happen
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#11 emcelhannon

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 03:40 AM

On displaying and storing gallium. What kind of clear container does this stuff NOT stick to?
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#12 UC

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 04:33 AM

On displaying and storing gallium. What kind of clear container does this stuff NOT stick to?


It doesn't stick to plastic very well. Especially if the surface is clean and not covered with oxide scum, which might be your problem. As long as it stays solid, any sort of plastic should be fine.

In fact, I used a plastic bag to clean mine off, by getting as much to stick as possible and pouring away the molten metal, then wringing out the stuff that stuck to recover clinging metal. I then used a clean plastic pipette to make small droplets of it on a plastic sheet and let them freeze.

Edited by UC, 17 February 2010 - 04:38 AM.

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#13 jordehwa

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 10:18 PM

well if you watch you tube videos periodic table of videos he is a professer in the university of nottingham and he held it with his bare hands
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#14 martijn315

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 09:47 PM

I was reading the element collection thread and just discovered the ability of Gallium to melt at 86C. Descriptions said you could hold it in your hand and watch it melt!! Checking out the MSDS, I got a much different description...

http://www.espi-metals.com/msds's/gallium.pdf

"SKIN: In case of contact, immediately wash with soap and plenty of water for at least 5 minutes. Remove contaminated clothing and shoes. Thoroughly clean contaminated clothing and shoes before reuse. Get medical attention if irritation develops or persists."

Does anyone have personal experience with handling Gallium?

Is it actually safe to play with for an extended period?

Are there any other kewl metals/elements that are safe to handle but have prudent MSDSs such as this?

Thanks,
CSR


MSDS can be quite deceptive, try the MSDS for Sodium Chlorine (table salt!) you'll find that it will cause cancer, care should be taken to avoid skin contact, wash hands with soap and plenty of water etc. I've handled gallium quite extensively, and personally know of people who have actually intentionally swallowed up to 10 grams of gallium without any side effects. Gallium is even considered a nutrient, is used in medics as a scan (gallium is injected in the blood stream). So it's totally safe to handle gallium! even water can be toxic if you drink huge amounts! just keep your wits, and you're totally fine.



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#15 WhaleLlama

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Posted 13 October 2014 - 07:28 PM

gallium is mildly toxic, but is often considered non-toxic. It's not as bad as mercury, and mercury's not actually that bad as long as you dont eat it or breathe it. The trouble with gallium is that it wets the skin unlike mercury. it gets into the crevices in your skin and stains everythin it touches, so it;s nowhere near as much fun. It melts at 29.8°C, which is equivalent to 86°F. Any scientific document that still uses fahrenheit should be burned.

If you get gallium, i'd reccomend you only handle it wearing gloves. it'll still melt but you wont be risking anything.

here's a better MSDS

That MSDS mainly refers to it as if it were in large quantites, as in enough to cover your clothes.


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