Build Your Chemistry Lab

If you really enjoy doing chemistry experiments, it might be a good idea to build your own lab at home.

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It is essential that you do everything safely and obtain chemical supplies in an appropriate way. There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the correct space and deciding what instruments you will need. Once you have the basic lab set up, you can get more advanced and add things specific to your needs.

You want to make sure you have plenty of space to set up and perform your experiments. A cluttered counter is difficult to work with and can lead to spills or damage of equipment. Ideally, you will have enough space to have a “wet” and “dry” side to work with. The “wet” side is for actual experiments, while the “dry” side is for supply storage.

  • You’ll also need plenty of space for the items you frequently use, such as glassware and chemicals.
  • If you’re concerned about ruining a good counter, place a towel on top of the counter and then a rubber non-slip mat on top of that. This will protect the counter and absorb any spilled chemicals.

Many chemicals and chemical reactions release volatile fumes that can be hazardous to your health. Proper ventilation is essential for your home chemistry lab. In addition, you want to work in a dry and temperate space. Temperature is important for the long-term storage of many chemicals.

  • While basements are spacious, they are not an ideal environment because they are usually poorly-ventilated, cold and damp during the winter, and hot and humid during the summer.
  • An open window and portable exhaust fan can serve to increase ventilation in any room.
  • If possible, work outside for experiments that produce lots of smoke or fumes.

Being able to see what you are doing during experiments is extremely important. If your space does not have enough light, buy some floor lamps to increase the lighting. A well-lit space will help avoid injury while experimenting.

  • Rooms with windows provide nice natural light and increase the ventilation.

Avoid rooms that have a porous floor such as carpet or wood. Spilled chemicals will be absorbed and ruin those surfaces. Vinyl or linoleum floors work very well because they are easy to clean and won’t absorb chemicals. Concrete flooring works as well, but is porous and can absorb spills. Consider coating it with latex or epoxy.

  • You can also purchase rubber flooring mats to cover the area of your workspace.

Although not essential, having access to running water and the sewer system can be very convenient. It is good not only for your experiments, but also from a safety perspective. If this is not possible, fill a large container, such as a 5-gallon carboy, with water. You will need water for many of your experiments and it is useful to have a large amount nearby.

  • If you get something in your eye or spill chemicals directly on you, rinse the affected area with water for at least 15 minutes before seeking further treatment.