Suppose you are doing an experiment and your fingers feel slippery; what did you probably get on them? What should you do if this happens to you?

1 Answer
Oct 31, 2016

You have probably exposed your fingers to an alkaline solution. You should wash your hands with copious water and soap pdq.


Get an acid burn, and you know it immediately; it stings. Splash acid on your clothing, and the next time you wash your clothes you get a hole where the acid has weakened the fibre of the fabric.

On the other hand, if you get splashed by a concentrated base or lye solution, sometimes you don't know it immediately. The base still damages your skin, but the soapiness and sliminess of base solution means that it eats away at your skin gradually. Of course, you might look at your skin afterwards and realize that you have a nasty burn.

Chemists regularly use alcoholic base baths for cleaning greasy glassware. They use long rubber gloves to place and extract the glassware in and out of the bath. Often, after rinsing the glassware, they would place the rinsed glassware in an acid bath for a final soak. It's in the acid bath where they realize the glove is holed (because the acid burns them), and use language that would make a sailor blush.