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Using Ward's Color-Coded Storage System

Ward's Color-Coded Storage System is a safe, simple, and effective chemical organization storage system that's built into every Ward's Chemical. Simply refer to the color on the cap, and put it where it belongs on your shelf!

The colors indicate generally compatibility chemicals. Segregating chemicals by color code allows basic classification by hazard type. Our chemicals are aligned to the five color-coded categories below:

Download a Full Size PDF Poster for Your Storage Room

How to Organize Your Chemicals by Color

  1. Start by establishing storage space and separating chemicals according to similar hazards, such as flammability, corrosivity, sensitivity to water or air, and toxicity. The following major categories of chemicals and color-codings are strongly recommended as a starting point for determining storage:
    • Area 1: LOW HAZARD – Green
      All suitable for general storage area.
    • Area 2: FLAMMABLES – Red
      Store in a corrosion-proof area, separating the following:
      1. Water compatible flammables
      2. Water incompatible flammables (sodium, potassium, lithium metals)
    • Area 3: CORROSIVES – White
      Separate the following:
      1. Acids (except nitric)
      2. Nitric Acid (Isolate)
      3. Strong Bases
    • Area 4: OXIDIZERS – Yellow
      Store away from flammables and combustibles
    • Area 5: POISONS - Blue
      Secure in poisons area
  2. Designate a shelf, cabinet, or area for each color according to the guidelines above.
  3. Place color-coded chemicals in the area that matches their color. You may also choose to alphabetize chemicals within each color to make them easier to locate on the shelf.

In addition, some items need separate storage. Examples of items that need separate storage are nitric acid and sodium metal. Nitric acid should be stored in an isolated compartment within an acid storage cabinet. Sodium and potassium metals are supplied under oil in a bottle that is in turn enclosed in a sealable can. The can provides isolation for the chemical.

In all cases, classification is done based upon the potential interaction of the chemical.

Where large amounts of organic and inorganic chemicals are present, it may be easier to classify chemicals whether they are organic or inorganic first, and then classify by color code. This can provide an extra level of safety with materials that could interact.

Grouping and Storing Chemicals from Other Suppliers

The Ward’s Color-Coded Storage System is easy to use with chemicals from any supplier. Simply refer to the information found on the chemical label or SDS and place in in the appropriate colored group.

If this information is not available, or you don’t have an SDS for the chemical, you can reference the equivalent Ward’s Chemical product information in the following ways:

  1. The Ward’s Science Catalog
    Information is printed above the item numbers for each chemical.
  2. The Ward’s Science Website –
    Information is on the product page for each chemical. Search by name or item number.
  3. The Ward’s Science SDS
    Locate the SDS for the chemical at Each chemical has the color coding in the top right corner. Search for an SDS

NOTE: Be sure that you are choosing the information for the correct concentration of chemical. For example, the powder form of Barium Nitrate is classified as an oxidizer and coded yellow, however the 0.1 M solution is coded as green for general storage. If you can find a comparable SDS from Ward’s Science for the chemical that you are attempting to classify it will have the storage classification that should be used.

To help make storing chemicals from other suppliers easier, we offer a color-coded labeling kit which can be used on any chemical:

Ward's Chemical Storage Start-Up Kit

Includes materials to classify and re-label 350 bottles and 69 3-foot shelves for each of the five colors used in the Ward's Color Coded Chemical Storage System.

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