Azides are chemicals that are usually used in chemical synthesis and biomedical research applications. While the chemicals aid in research, they are potentially explosive and shock sensitive under certain conditions; therefore, you need to be very careful when handling them.
Stability of organic azides
Organic azides are usually sensitive to violent decomposition from external energy sources such as heat, pressure, light, and friction. You should note that the stability of these organic substances depends on their chemical structures.
There are a number of ways in which you can determine the stability of the organic substances. One of the ways is by looking at the carbon to nitrogen ratio (C/N). Although in rare cases, the number of nitrogen atoms should never exceed the number of carbon atoms in stable chemicals.
The other way of determining the stability of the organic azides is by observing the “rule of six.” The rule states that each energetic functional group should not have less than six carbons. If you find a functional group will less than six carbons, that group is unstable and can easily explode.
To be on the safe side, you should always store the chemical separately from carbon disulfide, bromine, dimethyl sulfate, chromyl chloride, and heavy metals and their salts. As rule of thumb you should ensure that the azides are stored in plastic amber containers. They containers should be placed in a dark room.
You should also ensure that the chemicals don’t come into contact with strong acids and water as this can result to formation of explosive hydrazoic acids and toxic vapors.
While there is little information about organic azides, a number of research studies have shown that the chemicals pose danger to you whether you inhale, ingest, or absorb them. Exposure to small amounts of chemicals results to restlessness, weakness, vomiting, rapid heart rate, dizziness, nausea, and red eyes.
On the other hand exposure to large amounts of sodium azide brings about low blood pressure, slow heart rate, convulsions, and lung injury.
Due to the dangers associated with the chemicals, it’s paramount that you know how to protect yourself.
Before handling the chemicals always ensure that you wear protective equipment. This means that you should always wear a lab coat, gloves, and safety glasses.
You should never use halogenated solvents such as methylene chloride and chloroform. This is because they are potentially explosive and easily result to fire in the laboratory.
As rule of thumb you should never work in the lab alone.