Peroxide Forming Chemicals

45Peroxide forming chemicals (PFCs) are a class of chemicals that when exposed to oxygen degrade to form peroxides overtime. These peroxides can be identified by the presence of discoloration and crystals in the chemical bottle. These peroxides are shock sensitive and may explode upon exposure to physical or thermal shock or upon concentration.

Use, disposal and routine testing  of peroxide forming chemicals at Syracuse University  align with the standards of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Chemical Safety Guide.

Three classes of peroxide forming chemicals are managed at Syracuse University, they are listed in the table below:

Class A – Severe Peroxide Hazard

Spontaneously decompose and become explosive to air, even without concentration.

Butadiene*Chloroprene*Divinyl Acetylene
Potassium Metal**Isopropyl EtherPotassium Amide
Sodium AmideVinylidene Chloride

*When stored as a liquid monomer
**Can form peroxides on the metal (will turn yellow) and under container lids upon extended storage in an air atmosphere.

Class B – Concentration Hazard

Requires external energy for spontaneous decomposition. Forms explosive peroxides when distilled, evaporated, or otherwise concentrated.

AcetalAcetaldehydeBenzyl Alcohol
CyclopenteneCumeneDiethyl Ether
Isoamyl AlcoholIsobutyl Vinyl EtherMethyl Isobutyl Ketone

Class C – Shock & Heat Sensitive

Highly reactive and can autopolymerize from internal peroxide accumulation.

Methyl MethacrylateStyreneVinyl Acetate
Vinyl AcetyleneVinyl ChlorideVinyl Pyridine

*When stored as a gas



National Institutes of Health Chemical Safety

Prudent Practices in the Laboratory

Bretherick’s Handbook of Reactive Chemical Hazards

Management of time-sensitive chemicals (II): Their identification, chemistry and management (CHAS)

Peroxides and Peroxide Forming Compounds (Clark)