Moving towards safer alternatives

Subsport - Substitution Support Portal

054-EN, General section

Alternatives to Chromic Acid Cleaners in Laboratories


Chromic acid is widely used in many laboratories for cleaning glassware.
Because of the hazards for health and environment some alternatives have been developed as commercial products, but also as laboratory-made substitutes.

Substituted substance(s)

  1. Chromium trioxide

    CAS No. 1333-82-0 EC No. 215-607-8 Index No. 024-001-00-0

Alternative substance(s)

  1. Hydrogen chloride

    CAS No. 7647-01-0 EC No. 231-595-7 Index No. 017-002-00-2
  2. Potassium hydroxide ethanol

    CAS No.  EC No.  Index No. 

Other type of alternative

Reliability of information

Internet information: data are from an internet document and only a basic and partial evaluation could be performed

Hazard assessment

Potassium hydroxide ethanol is a mixture of the alkali in denaturated alcohol that may contain toluene (Repr.2) and hydrazine ( Carc.1B, aquatic toxicity 1 for both acute and chronic effects).
Strong alkali or acid solutions are corrosive.

» Check the Substance Database according to SUBSPORT Screening Criteria (SDSC)

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Substitution description

The Division of Research Safety-Chemical Safety Section of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) in USA published a Fact Sheet on alternatives to chromic acid used to clean laboratory glassware. Previously, an internal study made by UIUC in 1992 showed that 26 of its laboratories were using chromic acid as cleaner and concluded that this was due to unawareness of available alternatives at that time. Another possible cause identified back then was that people did not realised the hazards of the chemical and the fact that they were passed on to waste.
After using several alternative cleaners commercially available on the market, researchers found that they provide ‘’ sufficient cleaning capabilities for their needs’’. Laboratory made solutions (acidic or basic)  that can be neutralized and sewered after use, also achieve desired cleaning levels.
The alternatives included commercialised cleaners ( see Further information) and other chemicals often available in laboratories: hydrochloric acid, potassium hydroxide ethanol, oxidizing agents without chromium or other metals.

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Case/substitution evaluation

The substitution eliminates the use of hexavalent chromium in oxides and chromates known to be hazardous  for the workers and environment.

Corosive alternatives need proper handling and the use of personal protective equipment.
Corosive wastes need to be neutralised before disposal.

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Other solutions

Further information

1. MSDS ALCONOX Lab cleaning powder

2. MSDS FL 70 Concentrate

Further languages available

Who provided the information

Type of information supplier


Division of the Research safety, of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign,

Publication source

Division of the Research safety, of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Type of publication and availability 

Fact sheet, freely available on internet

Original document: click here
Archived copy: click here

Comments from SUBSPORT users

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