Is Hand Sanitiser a Fire Risk?

Is hand sanitiser a fire risk?

With hand sanitiser now playing such an important role in our daily lives, bottles of the liquid are now
in homes, offices, shops, cafes and cars around the world. While the benefits of hand sanitiser are
clear, there have been claims that it can actually pose a fire risk in certain situations.

In this article, Elite Fire are going to look at the facts and determine if hand sanitiser is a fire risk.

Can Hand Sanitiser Catch Fire?

Firstly, and most importantly, it has been determined that hand sanitiser cannot catch fire in a car or
building without a spark. It will not catch fire on its own.

Let’s get a clearer picture of how this claim came about, and look further into any potential fire risk
involving hand sanitiser.

Claims on Social Media

The initial claims that hand sanitiser poses a fire risk seemed to start on Facebook, with a
widely-shared photo claiming that a bottle of hand sanitiser caught fire when left in a car which
reached 35°c.

According to the photo, hand sanitiser has a low flashpoint of 21°c, which is why it can
catch fire when left in hot cars. Additionally, NHS Property Services issued a warning to their
frontline staff about the dangers of leaving hand sanitiser in their cars. This warning was later
retracted when further evidence was made available.

The National Fire Chiefs Council issued a statement on the claims of hand sanitiser fires, confirming
there have been no cases of these fires in the UK. The statement from NFCC Chair, Roy Wilsher, said:

“We want to reassure people that this product will not combust if left in a car – even on the
hottest day. For hand sanitiser to cause a fire it would need to come into contact with a spark.

“Hand sanitiser is very important in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, therefore it is
essential we debunk this myth. We advise people to ensure they store their hand sanitisers in
vehicles safely, which includes keeping bottles closed and out of direct sunlight. such as in the
glove box. This will ensure the contents do not deteriorate and means bottles cannot be
magnified by the sun. Sanitiser should also be kept away from naked flame.”

What is a Flashpoint?

The aforementioned ‘flashpoint’ of the hand sanitiser means the point at which the liquid will start to
emit vapour. This vapour is what a spark will ignite, and that’s why the low flashpoint of hand
sanitiser was a cause of concern for some. However, without ignition, the vapour from the sanitiser
will not combust.

To combust without ignition from a spark, the liquid would need to reach 350°c. So, while hand
sanitiser cannot realistically combust on its own, it is important that you store it away from heat
sources and keep it away from places where sparks may occur.

So, despite initial fears about the fire risk of hand sanitiser, it is extremely unlikely that yours will
combust if you leave it in the car. To be on the safe side, keep your sanitiser away from heat sources
and areas where sparks may occur, but leaving your bottle in the glove compartment is not going to
cause a fire.

Elite Fire Protection are experts in fire safety equipment and training, ensuring that businesses
around the country are fully protected and prepared for any type of fire emergency. For more
information about our services, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

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