Setting up a laboratory or science lab at home requires plenty of planning – especially when it comes to settling on space that is both safe and convenient. If you’re currently working on a project like this, give serious consideration to setting up dedicated, reliable space. With that in mind, consider the following pointers before you get started:
Protect your workspace
However, countertops may not be able to handle all of the chemicals and agents that you are going to use in the course of a home experiment. Some epoxy-based paints and coatings are resistant to harsher chemicals, so this is a possibility. If your work space is only temporary, then consider using a protective rubber mat as a buffer between your worktop and your experiment space. Just remember: setting up ad hoc space every time you need to run an experiment is going to become tiresome.
Allow proper ventilation
You probably think that your workspace is already well-ventilated enough, but this is quite literally not a safe assumption to live by. The kitchen exhaust hood is not going to be nearly as good at dealing with strong fumes as a fume cupboard purchased from www.mynewlab.com. If purchasing a cupboard is not an option, you may have to work outside in certain situations.
Install proper flooring
Of course you are going to be careful in your home science laboratory, but trust us – on a long enough timeline, accidents are going to happen. There will be spills and drops, and when those situations occur, you’ll be happy that you installed flooring that stands up to chemical agents and is easy to clean up. If you are working in dedicated lab space, then choose linoleum or sheet vinyl . At bare minimum, coat a concrete service with an epoxy-based paint to keep it from absorbing chemicals.
Give yourself plenty of storage space
Storage is one of those things that are easy to underestimate. You may think that you have all of the storage space that you need, but running a few experiments could reveal quite the opposite. For one thing, you need to have special space set aside for toxic (or otherwise hazardous) chemicals. It is not a good idea to mix regular storage space with your chemical storage space – especially in the kitchen where food is being created.
Insist on dedicated, segregated storage space that reduces the chances of someone grabbing the wrong chemical in a moment of confusion. Furthermore, be sure that your containers are child and pet proof and that everything can be sealed up tightly (i.e. in Tupperware or re-sealable plastic bags.
The Best Location for a Home Chemistry Lab
As mentioned, most people naturally gravitate toward the kitchen when they are looking for ad hoc home laboratory space. On the surface, it makes a lot of sense. Kitchens offer access to ample water, electricity and natural gas, and they are purpose built to be easily cleaned up even when serious messes are involved.
However, this is really not a wise idea. Kitchens are for food production, and introducing potentially hazardous chemicals confuses the room’s purpose. Honestly, if you really think about, bringing those chemicals into near contact with things that people in the house are going to eat is downright dangerous. (Except for in the case of a few specially designed ‘science-in-the-kitchen experiments).
With that in mind, try setting up your home laboratory in a room that does not revolve around eating. The following are a few possible candidates for a home lab:
- The laundry room can be good for ad hoc space that you set up and tear down at will. Cleanup is easy and ventilation is usually sufficient. Consider installing fold-down workspace that will not be in the way when you are not using it.
- Half bathrooms (or second bathrooms) have the same advantages as the kitchen (at least when it comes to electric hook-ups, access to water and easy cleanup). However, they have the added bonus of not having to mix food and dangerous chemical agents.
- Otherwise, a workshop in the garage or in a detached shed will probably do the trick. This is not an ideal location and may require some upgrading, but it will usually do the trick.