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Which Chemical Absorbent Powder Is Right for Your Operation?


If you work with chemicals, you must be prepared to deal with spills — and a big part of that preparation involves providing employees with appropriate absorbent or neutralizing materials. In fact, OSHA standard 1910.120(o)(2) requires employers in facilities that handle hazardous materials to “develop and implement procedures for the introduction of effective new technologies and equipment developed for the improved protection of employees…” Which Chemical Absorbent Powder Is Right for Your Operation?

What sort of technologies? The OSHA standard suggests “foams, absorbents, neutralizers, or other means to suppress the level of air contaminants…” There are lots of types of absorbents. You may use mats, pads, socks, or pillows. But often, the best way to contain, neutralize, and clean a chemical spill is with a granular absorbent — commonly called “chemical absorbent powder.”

Here’s a quick introduction to the various types of chemical absorbent powders available, along with some tips on choosing the right absorbent for your facility’s chemical risk.

5 Types of Chemical Absorbent Powder for Industrial Spill Response

First, a word about terminology. Technically, chemical absorbent powders are called “granular sorbents.” A “sorbent” describes both absorbent (with a “b”)and adsorbent (with a “d”) materials: Absorbent powders soak up liquids like a million tiny sponges, while adsorbents collect the fluid on the surface of each granule. Examples of loose adsorbents include silica gel and activated carbon.

For industrial purposes, the effect is more important than the physical process that helps you clean up a spill. So we discuss the catch-all category of sorbents in describing the products you need for appropriate spill response — and that choice of product is important.

Chemicals have different properties, so you need a sorbent designed to counteract specific harmful effects. Spilled battery electrolyte is acidic, for instance; the safest way to clean up electrolyte is with a neutralizing sorbent, one of several types of chemical absorbent powders. Here are the five major categories of granular sorbents to choose from:

1. Universal Granular Sorbents  Universal Super Sorbent

Universal granular sorbents are chemical absorbent powders designed for a wide variety of liquid chemicals. They absorb and solidify oil- and water-based fluids effectively. Universal granular sorbents are appropriate for most liquid spills, with one notable exception: You can’t use them on hydrofluoric acid or compounds containing this substance. That’s also true for most sorbents, which contain compounds that react with hydrofluoric acid to create a dangerous toxic gas. Only use a sorbent designed specifically for hydrofluoric acid if you work with this substance.

That said, the broad effectiveness of universal granular sorbents makes them a good choice for facilities that handle lots of different fluids, including oils, solvents, caustic chemicals, fuels, and more. For most industrial operations, a universal sorbent is the right choice.

Buy the universal granular Super Sorbent from Solus Group.

2. Acid-Neutralizing Granular Sorbents

These granular sorbents both absorb and neutralize acids in one step (though they’re also not for use with hydrofluoric acid). A sorbent like AcidSafe goes a step further, changing from gold to purple to indicate full neutralization. That allows spill response teams to sprinkle AcidSafe on a spill, verify that the material is neutralized, and sweep up the dried and inert granules for disposal — all with a single product.

Acid-neutralizing granular sorbents are ideal for facilities that use lead-acid industrial batteries, like those found in electric forklift fleets.

Buy AcidSafe from Solus Group.

3. Fluid-Encapsulating Granular Sorbents  FluidLoc Encapsulating Sorbent

While you certainly could clean up bodily fluids with a universal sorbent, fluid-encapsulating granules are faster and more effective at combating the unpleasant odors associated with these aqueous (water-based) liquids. FluidLoc quickly absorbs up to 150 times its weight in fluids, and includes a solidifying compound that locks in odors on contact.

That makes fluid-encapsulating sorbents a top choice in medical facilities, schools, meat-processing plants, and butcher shops.

Buy FluidLock from Solus Group.

4. Deodorizing Granular Sorbents

Deodorizing sorbents absorb liquids while neutralizing odors, with mildly scented materials to provide another layer of olfactory cover. These sorbents aren’t intended for use with acids or particularly caustic chemicals; they’re more suited for cleaning waste bins, cleaning up vomit, and controlling odors associated with common viscous fluids.

These sorbents are a key part of any janitorial toolkit, and they’re particularly helpful in schools, institutions, restaurants, and waste-handling operations.

Buy the Fresh odor-control sorbent from Solus Group.

5. Anti-Slip Granular Sorbents

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide walking/working surfaces that are free of slipping hazards, including those caused by liquid spills (standard 1910.22). Anti-slip sorbents help companies comply with this standard by improving traction while absorbing spills.

That makes anti-slip sorbents ideal for high-traffic areas like shipping/receiving docks, production floors, and warehouse aisles.

Buy Safety Sorbent from Solus Group.

Solus Group offers all these chemical absorbent powders, as well as sorbent and neutralizing socks, pads, and pillows, to help you safely handle any workplace spill. For help choosing the right product for your operation — or providing full spill kits, complete with personal protective equipment — contact Solus Group at 314-696-0200.