Given the hazards of metal powders, if copper powder is not required in the curriculum, we suggest that you consider disposing of it. We would recommend purchasing copper turnings rather than copper powder, due to the additional hazards associated with metal powders.
If you choose to keep the copper powder, Science ASSIST recommends that you store it in accordance with the information on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) from the manufacturer.
The Chem-Supply SDS for copper powder dated April 2014 states that the product is not hazardous and is not classified as a dangerous good. This product should be kept in a cool dry place, isolated from incompatible substances, which can be found in Section 10 of the SDS: ‘Stability and reactivity’.
Science ASSIST will be developing more specific guidelines for chemical storage in the coming months for chemicals included in our List of recommended chemicals for science in Australian schools.
Storage of copper powder
If the SDS of your copper powder classifies the copper powder as a Class 4.1 Flammable Solid, then the product should be segregated from other chemicals by storage in a labelled cupboard or cabinet, or on a shelf, which is dedicated to Class 4.1 Dangerous Goods.
The classification of a chemical sometimes varies between different manufacturers due to variations in the composition, concentration and/or form of the particular product. Not all metal powder products will meet the criteria for classification as a Class 4.1 Flammable Solid, as the reactivity of a metal powder will vary depending on factors such as the nature of the metal, the particle size and the method of production (e.g. whether there is a protective oxide coating on the particles, which would reduce the reactivity).
In general, chemicals should be stored segregated or isolated from incompatible chemicals to avoid hazardous reactions from occurring. This is best down by storing according to their Dangerous Goods classification, giving consideration to further incompatibilities within their Dangerous Goods Class. See also www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/school/principals/management/guid1che...
Hazards of copper powder
Powders of metals and other materials, whilst stable when stored under recommended conditions, have particular hazards associated with them due to their particle size. Finely divided metal powders can ignite easily and can form explosive mixtures with air (SDS, Section 5: ‘Fire-fighting measures’), see http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/combustible_dust.html. It is important not to breathe the dust of copper powder as it is toxic by inhalation (SDS, Section 11: ‘Toxicological information’). For these reasons we would recommend purchasing copper turnings rather than copper powder.
‘Combustible dust’. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website. http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/combustible_dust.html (Accessed 18/09/2015)
Department of Education and Training, Victoria, ‘Guidance Sheet 1: Chemical Storage.’ www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/school/principals/management/guid1chemst.docx
‘Safety Data Sheet: copper powder’ April 2014. ChemSupply website. (Accessed 25/09/2015) https://www.chemsupply.com.au/documents/CL0511CHHL.pdf
Standards Australia. 2004. AS/NZS 2243 Safety in Laboratories, Part 10: 2004 Storage of chemicals. Sydney, Australia.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Environmental Health and Safety, Safe Operating Procedure: Flammable Solids Hazards and Risk Minimisation, (1/13), https://ehs.unl.edu/sop/s-flammable_solids_haz_risk_min.pdf (Accessed 25/09/2015)