Don't Use Household Appliances in Laboratories

Household appliances are not designed to withstand the hazardous materials utilized in a lab nor the processes in which they are utilized. Household hot plates should never be used in a laboratory.

Hot plates are normally used for heating solutions to 100 C or above when steam baths cannot be used. New hot plates should be designed in a way that avoids electrical sparks and other interlock features. Hot/stirrer plates have an additional risk when operators turn on the wrong feature.

Hazards from hot plates include:

  • Burn Hazard: Touching the surface of the hot plate could burn you. Caution should be taken to avoid touching the surface.
  • Spark/Fire Hazard: In older hot plates, there is an electrical spark hazard from either the on-off switch or the bimetallic thermostat used to regulate temperature or both. If the equipment sparks near combustible or flammable materials, fire could result.

Steps to Working Safely with Hot Plates         

  • Ensure workers are trained in the safe use of all equipment prior to use.
  • Always check equipment prior to use. Do not use equipment if:
    • Cords are worn, frayed, or damaged. Also, do not use if the grounding pin is removed or plug is damaged.
    • Sensor is corroded or damaged.
    • Spark is observed.
  • Do not store volatile flmamable materials near hot plate. Do not place paper or other combustible materials near hot plate.
  • Limit use of older hot plate for flammables.
  • Ensure the hot plate is set to the proper setting. Do not leave unattended.

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This survey collected information from research institutions that have experienced electrical and electronic hot plate malfunctions that may or may not have resulted in equipment and facility damages.