Spill Response Guide: Corrosive Bases

Potential Hazards

  • Some corrosive bases may be ignitable.  Examples include triethylamine, isopropylamine – use flammable material cleanup guidance.
  • Contact causes burns to skin or eyes.
  • May be harmful if inhaled.
  • Concentrated material may react vigorously with water.

Basic Supplies (See EHS Spill Preparedness and Response Training for additional information)


  • Absorbent pads, pillows, or loose sorbent, OR
  • Base neutralizer such as Spill-X-C, citric acid, sodium bisulfate, or dilute acetic acid may be used


  • Splash goggles
  • Lab coat or apron
  • Shoe Covers (optional)
  • Chemical-resistant gloves

Waste Handling

  • Sealable container
  • Plastic mixing tools
  • Heavy duty waste bags
  • Tape to seal bags
  • Hazardous waste labels

Response Actions/Cleanup Methods

  • Alert others in the spill area.
  • Don’t touch or walk through the spilled material.
  • Wear eye and skin protection. Use gloves that are compatible with bases such as a thicker nitrile or neoprene.  However, be aware that some bases require a more chemical resistant glove such as Silver Shield®/4H®.
  • Avoid breathing vapors.
  • As quickly as possible, dike the spilled liquid to prevent spreading. If the spill is a solid, you do not need to neutralize or absorb it.
  • Spill pillows or a general absorbent material may be used.
  • For solutions of inorganic bases, use a weak acid such as citric acid, sodium bisulfate, or dilute acetic acid to neutralize the base.  You can also use a commercial neutralizer product such as Spill-X-C® (need pH paper with it), Neutracit®-2 (has built-in pH indicator).
    • Add neutralizer slowly; work from edges of spill inward. Use caution because the reaction can cause splattering.
    • Mix the neutralizer with a plastic spatula or other tool.
    • Test pH or use the product’s color indicator to determine the level of neutralization.
    • When pH is between 6-8, the material is no longer considered hazardous waste.  The neutralized material may be carefully dissolved in water and washed down the sink.
    • Any items used to absorb or dike non-neutralized base should be considered corrosive and disposed of as hazardous waste.
    • After the neutralized spill material has been picked up, spray the area lightly with water; test with pH paper to ensure all corrosive material has been removed.
  • If a neutralizer is not used, cover with absorbent.
  • Pick up spill cleanup material with plastic tools and place into a plastic or glass container with a sealable lid.  The material may also be double-bagged and placed into a sealable cardboard box.
  • Label material for collection by HPO.
  • Thoroughly ventilate the area after cleanup.
  • Clean the area with detergent and water.

Factors That Can Complicate Spill Response

  • Spilled corrosive bases may become a major spill due to a large quantity spilled, a complex situation such as multiple chemicals spilled or involved in a spill, or if special respiratory protection is required for response.
  • Special respiratory protection may be required if there is an inhalation hazard due to –
    • Increased toxicity/volatility.
    • Severe short term health effects.
    • Highly volatile or toxic materials spilled in poorly ventilated areas.