Flammability and Explosibility

Carbon disulfide is extremely flammable and is a dangerous fire hazard (NFPA rating = 3). It is has a high vapor pressure and extremely low autoignition temperature. Its vapor is heavier than air and can travel a considerable distance to a source of ignition and flash back. The vapor forms explosive mixtures in air at concentrations of 1.3 to 50%. Carbon disulfide can be ignited by hot surfaces such as steam baths that would ordinarily not constitute an ignition source for other flammable vapors. Rust (iron oxide) may increase the likelihood of ignition by hot surfaces. Carbon disulfide fires should be extinguished with CO2 or dry chemical extinguishers.

Reactivity and Incompatibility

Reactions of alkali metals with carbon disulfide may cause explosions. Carbon disulfide reacts violently with metal azides.

Storage and Handling

Carbon disulfide should be handled in the laboratory using the "basic prudent practices" described in Chapter 5.C, supplemented by additional precautions for dealing with extremely flammable substances (Chapter 5.F). In particular, carbon disulfide should be used only in areas free of ignition sources (including hot plates, incandescent light bulbs, and steam baths), and this substance should be stored in tightly sealed metal containers in areas separate from oxidizers.


In the event of skin contact, immediately wash with soap and water and remove contaminated clothing. In case of eye contact, promptly wash with copious amounts of water for 15 min (lifting upper and lower lids occasionally) and obtain medical attention. If carbon disulfide is ingested, obtain medical attention immediately. If large amounts of this compound are inhaled, move the person to fresh air and seek medical attention at once.

In the event of a spill, take care to remove all ignition sources, soak up the carbon disulfide with a spill pillow or absorbent material, place in an appropriate container, and dispose of properly, taking appropriate precautions because of the extreme flammability of the liquid and vapor. Respiratory protection may be necessary in the event of a large spill or release in a confined area.


Excess carbon disulfide and waste material containing this substance should be placed in an appropriate container, clearly labeled, and handled according to your institution's waste disposal guidelines. For more information on disposal procedures, see Chapter 7 of this volume.

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