Last updated: May 27, 2017

What Does Pyrophoric Mean?

Pyrophoric materials are substances that ignite instantly when exposed to oxygen. They can also have water-reactive properties, resulting in the production of heat and hydrogen (a flammable gas).

Pyrophoric materials can have other hazardous qualities, including:

  • Corrosivity
  • Teratogenicity
  • Organic peroxide formation
  • Damage to liver, kidneys, or central nervous system

Safeopedia Explains Pyrophoric

Examples of pyrophoric materials include:

  • Metal hydrides
  • Finely divided metal powders
  • Non-metal hydride
  • Alkyl compounds
  • White phosphorus
  • Alloys of reactive materials
  • Organometallic compounds (including alkyllithiums)

Safety equipment, including protective clothing, is required when coming in contact with pyrophoric materials. Fume hoods or cupboards must also be used to contain the noxious or flammable gases most pyrophoric materials release during reactions. Pyrophoric chemicals must be stored under an atmosphere of inert gas to ensure safety.


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