Elemental sodium is an odorless silver-white metal solid that reacts violently with water, acids and oxygenated compounds.  Sodium can ignite spontaneously in moist air or dry air above 239oF.  It is highly corrosive to eyes, skin and mucous membranes.  Water and conventional ABC fire extinguishers can intensify a fire involving sodium and should never be used.

Emergency Procedures

Skin/Eye Contact:  Brush off any visible solids.  Rinse with copious amounts of water for at least 15 minutes.  Seek medical attention as needed.  Thoroughly clean clothing before reuse.

Ingestion:  Will react immediately with saliva to cause serious burns and possible local combustion and even explosion of hydrogen in the mouth or esophagus. Do not induce vomiting.  Drink 2-3 glasses of water and seek medical attention immediately.

Inhalation: Not a likely route of exposure. Move to fresh air immediately. Do not administer mouth to mouth resuscitation. Seek medical attention immediately

Fire:  Use Class D extinguisher such as Met-L-X or smother the fire with dry sand.  Do not use water, carbon dioxide or halogenated extinguishing agents.

Spill:  Control all sources of ignition.  Wearing personal protective equipment, cover the spill with sand.  Scoop spilled materials with spark-resistant tools and place in a container for disposal.  DO NOT USE WATER or combustible materials, such as saw dust.


Wear safety glasses, impervious gloves and a fire-retardant laboratory coat.  Control ignition sources and avoid dust formation.  Avoid contact with water or moisture.  Keep a supply of dry sand available in the work area and ensure there is a Class D extinguisher immediately available.

When large quantities of sodium will be used, work under an inert gas, such as nitrogen or argon, in a fume hood or glove box.  Avoid contact with water or moisture.

Sodium is incompatible with oxygen, carbon dioxide, halogens and halogenated solvents, alcohols, oxidizing agents, hydrated salts, acids and a wide variety of other materials.  Sodium reacts violently on contact with powerful oxidizers and water.

Do not grind sodium or heat it.  Upon contact with water, acids or alcohols, sodium produces an exothermic reaction involving release of flammable hydrogen gas. Hydrogen production also occurs in the presence of dry air above 239oF.


Keep element under moisture- free toluene, kerosene and/or dry inert gas such as nitrogen or argon. Store in tightly sealed containers in a cool dry place, separate from combustible materials.


Store wastes in tightly sealed containers under toluene or kerosene.  Dispose as hazardous waste.

For More Information

See SDS for sodium from Fisher Scientific.


Stanley Howell
Program Manager - Chemical Safety

Steve Elwood
Associate Director for Laboratory Safety