Skip to main content

5.4.2 Spill Absorbent Materials

Note: The following materials are EHS approved/recommended spill absorbent materials, however, they are not appropriate for every possible chemical spill – when in doubt, contact EHS at or 607-255-8200 for advice.

For acid spills (except Hydrofluoric acid):

  • Sodium carbonate 
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) 
  • Calcium carbonate 
  • Calcium bicarbonate 
  • Do not use absorbent clay for acid spills

For Hydrofluoric acid (HF) spills:

  • Use Calcium carbonate or Calcium bicarbonate to tightly bind the fluoride ion.

For liquid base spills:

  • Use Sodium bicarbonate to lower the pH sufficiently for drain disposal.

For oil spills:

  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik), vermiculite, or absorbent clay (kitty litter).

For most acqueous solutions:

  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik)

For most organic liquid spills:

  • Use ground corn cobs (SlikQwik). If the liquid is flammable, be sure to use an excess of SlikQwik.

For oxidizing liquids:

  • Use absorbent clay, vermiculite, or some other nonreactive absorbent material. Do not use SlikQwik or paper towels. Note: Most nitrate solutions are not sufficiently oxidizing for this requirement.

For mercury spills:

  • Do not dispose of mercury or mercury contaminated spill debris in the regular trash or down the drain.
  • There is no absorbent material available. Physical removal processes are best for removing and collecting mercury. 
  • If you need help collecting Mercury from a spill, contact EHS spill responders by calling (607) 255-1111 or 911. Note: While powdered sulfur will help reduce mercury vapors, the sulfur greatly complicates the spill cleanup.