Environmental health and safety office


Some chemicals identified as shock sensitive have the potential to produce a violent explosion when subjected to shock, heat or friction, and require water to be added to the chemical before transportation.

Table 5-4 Shock-Sensitive Compounds

  • Acetylenic compounds, especially polyacetylenes, haloacetylenes, and heavy metal salts of acetylenes (copper, silver, and mercury salts are particularly sensitive)

  • Acyl nitrates

  • Alkyl nitrates, particularly polyol nitrates such as nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine

  • Alkyl and acyl nitrites

  • Alkyl perchlorates

  • Amminemetal oxosalts: metal compounds with coordinated ammonia, hydrazine, or similar nitrogenous donors and ionic perchlorate, nitrate, permanganate, or other oxidizing group

  • Azides, including metal, nonmetal, and organic azides

  • Chlorite salts of metals, such as AgClO2 and Hg(ClO2) 2

  • Diazo compounds such as CH2N2

  • Diazonium salts, when dry

  • Fulminates such as mercury fulminate (Hg(CNO) 2)

  • Hydrogen peroxide becomes increasingly treacherous as the concentration rises above 30%, forming explosive mixtures with organic materials and decomposing violently in the presence of traces of transition metals

  • N-Halogen compounds such as difluoroamino compounds and halogen azides

  • N-Nitro compounds such as N-nitromethylamine, nitrourea, nitroguanidine, and nitric amide

  • Oxo salts of nitrogenous bases: perchlorates, dichromates, nitrates, iodates, chlorites, chlorates, and permanganates of ammonia, amines, hydroxylamine, guanidine, etc.

  • Perchlorate salts. Most metal, nonmetal, and amine perchlorates can be detonated and may undergo violent reaction in contact with combustible materials.

  • Peroxides and hydroperoxides, organic

  • Peroxides (solid) that crystallize from or are left from evaporation of peroxidizable solvents

  • Peroxides, transition-metal salts

  • Picrates, especially salts of transition and heavy metals, such as Ni, Pb, Hg, Cu, and Zn

  • Polynitroalkyl compounds such as tetranitromethane and dinitroacetonitrile

  • Polynitroaromatic compounds, especially polynitro hydrocarbons, phenols, and amines (i.e., dinitrotoluene, trinitrotoluene, and Picric acid.

Note: Shock sensitive compounds have the letters "SS," "EX," or "TW" listed as the final two digits of their DDC number (see Appendix I).

For further information on explosive hazards of chemicals, see the National Research Council's guide, Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals, pages 54-57.