Picric Acid

Picric acid (2,4,-trinitrophenol) is common in laboratories. It is normally sold containing 10 to 15% water in a plastic-capped glass container and, in this state, is relatively safe to handle. Dry Picric acid, however, can explode when exposed to friction, shock, or sudden heating. Moreover, Picric acid can form salts on contact with metals, and heavy metal picrates are highly sensitive to detonation.


If you have relatively fresh Picric acid which is clearly still wetted, simply follow the instructions for regular hazardous waste.

CAUTION: Do not attempt to open a container of dry Picric acid!

If you have Picric acid that appears to be dried out or in a metal-capped container, call UMD EHSO at 726-6764. A technician will come to your laboratory to assess the condition of the Picric acid and perform the necessary steps to remove the container from your laboratory. This will entail attempting to wet the Picric acid via immersion and/or making arrangements with the local bomb squad. If successfully wet the container will be processed as regular hazardous waste.