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29 January 2006 @ 02:23 pm
A Darwin of My Very Own  

[Cross-posted from my MovableType Blog]

Apparently I'm still intent on getting a Darwin Award of my very own.

Having survived falling from a height, drowning, and unknown bicycle incident(s), I must now add chemical poisoning to the list.

This is particularly embarassing because I grew up with a chemist, and spent many evenings mopping up my mother's store. In that time I had the following pressed into my head:

2 NaOCl + 2 NH3 => 2 NaONH3 + Cl2

((Aqueous solutions of) bleach and ammonia combine to form, among other things, chlorine gas)

Some of that youthful exuberance must have gone to burning that memory out of my mind, because I was just cleaning the closet containing Horus's box with bleach (there was an "incident," the less said about it, the better). Brillant. What's cat piss mostly composed of? (Besides water, smart-ass)

To paraphase Ralph Wiggum: "It smells like burning!"

I didn't linger too long, but it wasn't until I was in the shower that I put 2+2 together. Gonna sit down for a bit and make sure I'm ok (original plan was to run off & drive somewhere). I'm still feeling a tad light headed.

EDIT: I've gone back and closed the door to keep Horus out of that room and turned a fan on & opened the window. Best to be on the safest side.

clynne on January 29th, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC)
That's a pretty neato reaction. Erich caused it a few times cleaning up after the cats -- it's always impressive how you know you fucked up because suddenly the sponge heats up. Yay, exothermia!
Brianbk2w on January 30th, 2006 12:15 am (UTC)
It's even more fun that, because there are alternate reactions that can occur:

If there's more bleach and ammonia you get 3NaOCl + NH3 --> 3NaOH + NCl3 producing Nitrogen Trichloride, a very toxic compound, and a volatile explosive to boot.

If there's more ammonia than bleach you get NH3 + NaOCl --> NaOH + NH2Cl followed by NH3 + NH2Cl + NaOH -->N2H4 + NaCl + H2O producing hyrdazine, frequentyly used as a rocket fuel. And production of hydrazine can followed by 2NH2Cl + N2H4 --> 2 NH4Cl + N2, an extremely exo-thermic reaction.

So, you can get gassed, or you can get poisoned and blown up, or you can burned and blown up. Mmm, chemistry.
Erik Ogan: haloeriktheplaid on January 30th, 2006 02:41 am (UTC)
Yeah, I suspect it was the NH2Cl and NH2Cl2 that was causing my nose to burn, not true Cl2 gas. But I'm not going to try to prove it.
Erik Ogan: AIDSrideeriktheplaid on January 30th, 2006 02:41 am (UTC)
Feeling better, btw.
stealthymonkey on January 30th, 2006 03:33 am (UTC)
Glad you're not still woozy and eye-burny...plus, if it makes you feel any better, today while attempting to measure the spg of my nano cube, I discovered what a great conductor salt water can be, much to the dismay of the house's wiring. So buck up, we'll be stupid together.
michael pendletonschwap23 on January 31st, 2006 12:36 am (UTC)
Ah, youthful ignorance, that time of bliss... When the boss says "I want you guys to clean really well tonight, so pour a lot of both bleach and ammonia into this bucket, and then run some incredibly hot water into the bucket. While this is happeneing, I want you to stay in the very small room where the sink is, so the bucket doesn't overflow."

I paraphrase, but the incident is true enough, and it wasn't until several days later that I figured out what had happened! (I blame myself for being 14 and listening to people in authority. Chlorine gas is really only the most obvious outcome of combining these two risk factors!) So, yeah, don't do that!