When setting up a residential lab, there is one special consideration if you’re under 18 years of age. In that case, there is a fourth essential idea: getting permission from the responsible adult, or adults, in your home. Aside from the many other minor steps, such as having a notebook for lab notes or having the supplies for experiments, here are the three chief things you need for your lab:
1. Safety Items
You have to have, at the very least, goggles, a face shield, gloves, and a heavy-duty smock to start with. And, although you probably cannot convert your kitchen sink into an emergency eyewash station, you can still have a kit for emergency eyewash. Such a kit would contain a bottle of sterile saline to wash contaminants out of your eye. Generally, these kits are available commercially or online. If you’re going to build a lab as an addition to to your residence, then you should install a real emergency eyewash station.
Also, always keep materials that interact violently with each other separate. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do experiments that involve these items, but when you do experiments, you control the amount of each item that comes into contact with the other item. Keep any dangerous items inside sealed containers away from outside contact.
Your safety items should also include a fire extinguisher, chemical spill neutralizing agents, and even a bucket of flour. Some fires won’t respond to water or even some fire extinguishers, so having the flour there to dump on something to smother it is a good backup.
2. Good Ventilation
If you’re not creating an addition to your home, then setting up the lab near a window is the best way to ensure good ventilation. Generally, the kitchen is the easiest place to set up a home lab because there is usually a window right there, and there are also flat, nonporous surfaces, such as aluminum or granite, that will do quite nicely for experiments. If possible, have a fan set up to blow out the window.
If you’re setting up an addition to your home, then it’d be a good idea to install a powerful overhead fan system to ventilate that space. A good place to put it would be over the eyewash station or the main lab table.
3. Enough Lighting
It’s risky to work in poor light. Here, the kitchen is a great spot to put your lab because it’s usually near windows which not only provide ventilation but also plenty of sunlight. Even if you do work during the evening and nighttime hours, you can still provide good lighting with portable lights. LEDs make a good choice because they don’t heat up and use very little power. Of course, if you’re building your scientific lab from scratch, then you have the opportunity to install full LED lighting.
Setting up a residential lab will lead to much fun, exploration, and learning and is a worthwhile endeavor whether you put one in your kitchen or build one just for that purpose.