Nitric Acid

⚠ Danger ☠
Nitric acid is deemed a particularly hazardous substance (PHS) by EH&S and you need approval before using it. Throughout this SOP, you will see PHS where steps specific to particularly hazardous substances exist.

This chemical standard operating procedure (SOP) and the associated Safety Data Sheet (SDS) are for our safety. Read and understand both documents. If this is a paper copy, check for updated versions on the IsoLab website.


Nitric acid is used for cleaning glassware and creating aqua regia for selenium analysis.

Hazards - SDS

GHS Corrosive Hazard Pictogram GHS Oxidizer Hazard Pictogram GHS Toxic Substance Hazard Pictogram

May intensify fire; oxidizer. May be corrosive to metals. Causes severe skin burns and eye damage. Toxic if inhaled.

Protection - SDS

Hierarchy of Controls
The Hierarchy of Hazard Controls. While you should consider Elimination and Substitution, this SOP assumes the bottom three are directly applicable and described in this section.

Engineering Controls

Concentrated nitric acid may only be used in a fume hood. Ensure the fume hood has proper air flow by checking the flow rate on the control panel and / or using a smoke match or wipe to visualize flow.

PHS - Ideally, nitric acid will be used in the 302C fume hood. If this one is not available try 302B. Do NOT use the fume hood in 302A. You can also try the two fume hoods in 303B. If you are transporting the concentrated bottle of nitric acid to another fume hood other than 302C, use the plastic reagent bottle tote, which can be found near the window by the east 303B hood.

Administrative Controls

PHS - Tell others in the lab that you are using nitric acid. Do not allow anyone else to work in the same fume hood while you are working with nitric acid unless they are working with you. If you must leave the fume hood for any period of time, close the sash and tape a sign up indicating the presence of nitric acid.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wear chemical splash goggles, heavy-duty Sol-Vex Nitrile Gloves, and a laboratory coat or apron for concentrated nitric acid. When working with dilute nitric acid regular purple nitrile gloves will suffice.

PHS - Goggles are located on the west wall drawers of 303B. Heavy duty gloves are located on the north wall shelves of 302B. Have all PPE on prior to grabbing the concentrated nitric acid bottle. Keep the fume hood sash low for facial protection.

Handling - SDS

Keep container tightly closed when not in use. Keep away from metals and open flame.

PHS - Decontamination - Make sure all glassware that handled concentrated nitric acid has been rinsed thoroughly inside the fume hood with the rinse water going into your waste container.

Storage - SDS

Nitric acid is stored on the south acids cabinet under the fume hood in 302C. Use MyChem, the UW EH&S chemical inventory database, for more storage information. Use the provided secondary containment provided in said cabinet.

Spills - SDS

Outside Fume Hood Spill - FUMES - Everyone should evacuate. If you intend to clean up the spill yourself, don a respirator with a gas vapor cartridge and non-vented protective goggles before attempting clean-up. Do not let anyone enter the contaminated space until the air is cleared or proper PPE has been donned.

PHS - Exposure:

Inside Fume Hood Spill - If the spill is fully contained inside the fume hood, close the sash and prepare yourself to clean it up. Grab the closest spill kit. Make sure you have the appropriate PPE on (lab coat, nitrile gloves, eye protection). Do not allow the substance to enter the drain. Use liquid-absorbent material to soak up the chemical. Put all generated waste into a bag. See Waste section below.

If you need assistance or advice, use the IsoLab Emergency Contacts sheet.

Consult the EH&S Spill Poster and Exposure Poster

Waste - SDS

If you are cleaning up after a spill and have a bag of debris, ensure the bag is sealed and use multiple bags as needed. Complete an EH&S Hazardous Waste Label and adhere it to the bag. Here are instructions for how to label chemical waste containers. Labels are located in a drawer on the west wall of 303B near the door to the hallway.

Put all waste, solid or liquid, into a wide-mouth plastic container. Options for waste containers can be found under the west sink in 303B. Complete an EH&S Hazardous Waste Label and adhere it to the bottle. Here are instructions for how to label chemical waste containers. Labels are located in a drawer on the west wall of 303B near the door to the hallway.

Place the properly labeled container in one of the gray tubs near the hallway door of 303B. Segregate from other waste containers as appropriate.

Consult our generalized Chemical Waste Disposal SOP.

Chemical SOP Signature Required Sticker
This sticker is placed on all chemical containers that are deemed particularly hazardous and require approval before use.

Training - PHS

Nitric acid is deemed a particularly hazardous substance - PHS by EH&S and you need approval before using it. Complete the list of requirements below before using this chemical.


  1. You must have completed Managing Laboratory Chemicals in the last three years. Login to check.
  2. Read and understand the SDS for Nitric acid.
  3. Read, understand, and digitally sign this SOP.
  4. Contact your Principal Investigator (PI) AND the Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO) indicating that you have completed all prerequisites and await approval.


I have read and understood the present SOP and, before starting work outlined in the present SOP, I will complete all required training.

Last updated: 2021-06-23 09:03:58