Resumo em inglês This work presents a detailed routine applied to the identification of unknown chemicals and wastes. 786 specimens were analyzed during 20 months. Unknown materials fell into three basic classes: (i) commercial chemicals without labels or illegible ones; (ii) laboratory synthesis products; (iii) used solvents (including mixtures). Uranium and thorium were recovered form their wastes. Unknown chemicals were mainly inorganic compounds, many of which had never been opened. A (mais) lkaline salts were dominant, but also precious metal compounds were identified. Laboratory synthesis products were organic compounds. The final destination depended on the nature of the chemical. Most organic compounds were sent to incineration; inorganic salts were distributed among several public organizations, including secondary and technical schools. The work described in this paper greatly reduced the amount of wastes that had to be sent to disposal.