I'm taking my first chemistry class with a laboratory component this quarter. My first laboratory session was earlier this evening (observing simple metathesis reactions). While I found the lab work to be fairly straightforward, the fact that the interior surface of my safety goggles accumulated a considerable amount of condensation proved to be a moderate hinderance.

I'm wondering if anybody has recommendations for lab goggles? Particularly ones which may avoid this problem?

Note: it is school policy that we wear lab goggles with side shields, not lab glasses.

Any insights here would be appreciated!

  • $\begingroup$ A suggestion would be to not get too close when boiling stuff in the lab. $\endgroup$ – Aniruddha Deb Jan 23 '20 at 7:06
  • $\begingroup$ @AniruddhaDeb although this is a good point, I was referring to condensation on the inside of the goggles, not on the outside (we were not boiling anything in this particular experiment). I'll edit my original question to clarify :) $\endgroup$ – Tyler Jan 23 '20 at 7:12
  • $\begingroup$ I am continually amazed that the lab does not provide such vital safety equipment. We had some that allowed for some ventilation: draeger.com/de_de/Applications/Products/Head-and-Eye-Protection/… $\endgroup$ – TAR86 Jan 23 '20 at 7:25
  • $\begingroup$ @TAR86 worry not, lab goggles are indeed supplied by the school, that said I'm seeking a higher quality set to use which may avoid condensation (although based on some of the responses to my original question, this sounds like wishful thinking) $\endgroup$ – Tyler Jan 23 '20 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ OT of course the first lab session has to be a metathesis reaction, :) $\endgroup$ – Alchimista Jan 23 '20 at 9:00

I don't have specific product recommendations (and I think they're discouraged in general on SE), but these are the general principles:

You'll only get condensation on goggles (or anything else) if they're cooler than the dewpoint of the air contacting them. If your goggles are cold, you'll get condensation.

If you're sweaty, it'll be worse.

If the goggles are glass or another high-thermal-mass material, they'll stay cold longer, making the problem worse.

If the goggles are ventilated, humid air can escape from the space between your goggles and your face, making the problem better.

Does the problem only arise after you've been working in the lab for a while, or does it happen as soon as you put the goggles on? If the latter, you might be able to fix it by just putting the goggles in a warm interior pocket for a few minutes before you start work.

There are also spray-on anti-fog products for goggles. If you can't find one of those, try rinsing the goggle interior surfaces with soapy water, then not rinsing the soap off. The soapy film left on the goggles won't prevent condensation, but it will slow the formation of droplets, which will slow the fogging effect.

  • $\begingroup$ This was super helpful, thank you! I will consult my Professor and see which of these solutions may be most appropriate in our particular laboratory. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Jan 25 '20 at 5:01

Most goggles with side shields should have some ventilation source on them. I'm assuming your goggles look somewhat like this: goggles 1 The vents on the side should facilitate enough ventilation and prevent defogging.

If you're using a full face goggle with a shield, It should look something like this: Goggles & mask The black things on the side are covered vents: they prevent accumulation of water vapour inside while also not allowing chemicals to get in directly.

Try to obtain a pair of goggles with these features in them. If you have already bought a pair, a (slightly unsafe) workaround would be to simply drill a few small holes in the side shield to allow the water vapour to exit.

  • $\begingroup$ the goggles provided by the school are actually comparable to the ones in the lower photo. That said, they are presumably fairly old, it may be that the vents are clogged, preventing the escape of water vapor. It might be worth getting a new set for myself to see if that makes a difference. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Jan 23 '20 at 7:46
  • $\begingroup$ The upper pictures shows a pair of lab goggles. I do not know what those in the lower picture are supposed to be used for specifically, but they are thoroughly unsuitable for normal lab work, for exactly that reason the OP experienced. They surely look cheaper. :/ $\endgroup$ – Karl Jan 23 '20 at 21:35

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