Showing 1-1 of 1 Responses

Container for sodium metal

Submitted by sat on 20 March 2019

Answer reviewed 26 February 2023

Container for sodium metal

Organic chemicals may react with plastic containers when stored in them for an extended period of time.1 It appears that the paraffin oil in your situation may have reacted with the plastic container and/or the sodium has reacted with the oxygen in the headspace of the container, thereby creating a vacuum. Therefore, your original container has been compromised and you will need to repackage your sodium metal.

Sodium metal is highly reactive with water generating flammable hydrogen gas and sufficient heat to cause ignition. It is essential that sodium is stored so that it cannot come into contact with water, including moisture in the atmosphere.2,3 Sodium is usually supplied under paraffin oil or under kerosene. It is usually good practice to keep chemicals in the containers in which they are supplied.

Science ASSIST recommends the following for storage of sodium:

Note: The use of a sand bath is not considered necessary for storage of sodium. It could mask the loss of storage fluid.

Transfer Procedure for establishing a new stock and classroom container of sodium:

References and further information

1 ‘Nalgene Plastic Labware Chemical Resistance Reference Guide’, Thermofisher website, LCD-Chemical-Resistance-Guide-GALSPCHEMRESPOSTER-EN.pdf (

2 ChemSupply Australia website, (2023), Safety Data Sheet: Sodium metal. Please search the product information page on the website for the current SDS for Sodium metal

3 CLEAPSS. (2018). Sodium. (Hazcard CLP88) Retrieved from the CLEAPSS website: (login required)

4 Flinn Scientific website, Safety FAQ How should I store reactive metals like sodium, potassium, lithium, etc? Retrieved (26 February 2023)

5 ChemSupply Australia (2023), Safety Data Sheet: Kerosene. Please search the product information page on the website for the current SDS for Kerosene

6 Science ASSIST. 2016. SOP: Demonstrating the reaction of alkali metals lithium and sodium with water, Science ASSIST website,

7 Chemistry Australia and Science Industry Australia. 2008. Code of Practice for Supply Diversion into Illicit Drug Manufacture, Chemistry Australia website,

Science ASSIST. 2018. Chemical Management Handbook for Australian Schools Edition 3, Science ASSIST website,