The flashpoint of a liquid is the temperature at which the liquid will release sufficient vapors for the vapors to ignite in the air. Flashpoint is not an indicator that the material will ignite; it is an indicator that the material could ignite if an ignition source, such as a spark or flame, is present. Although there are different standards in place for the shipyard and construction industries, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set the general standard for flammable liquids as those having a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Numerous products commonly found in homes, garages or storage sheds meet the definition of a flammable liquid.
List of Flammable Liquids Frequently Found in Homes
- Cooking oil.
- Cologne and perfume.
- Oil-based paint.
- Nail polish and polish remover.
- Hair sprays and other hair products containing alcohol.
- Certain cleaners containing pine oil.
- Hand sanitizers containing ethyl alcohol.
- Spray lubricants.
- Liquid correction fluids for masking typed or written text.
- Paint thinners and primers.
- Many carpet cleaners.
- Body washes containing alcohol.
- Dry-cleaning spotters and solvents for home use.
- Deck sealers and waterproofing.
- Brake, transmission and windshield washer fluids.
- Adhesives, such as those used to secure floor tiles.
- Engine additives.
- Lighter fluid.
- Charcoal starter fluid.
- Some pesticides.
Storing and Using Flammable Liquids Safely
Flammable liquids need an ignition source, but in some cases, even a spark of static electricity is sufficient to start a fire. The U.S. Fire Administration and the East Side Fire Department of East Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana offer a host of tips to assist homeowners in safe materials handling:
- Avoid storing flammable liquids in direct sunlight.
- Keep flammable liquids away from heat sources and open flames, such as hot water heaters and fireplaces.
- Do not purchase more of a flammable liquid than you can use right away.
- Do not transfer products from their original containers, and do not combine different flammable liquids.
- Store flammable liquids in a location that will prevent them from tipping over and spilling, such as on a shelf with a rail.
- If you spill a flammable liquid, air out the area and clean the spill immediately, but avoid using fans or other electrical appliances to do it.
- Do not smoke while using any type of flammable product, including nail polish, polish remover, alcohol-based hair products and similar cosmetic items.
- Dispose of flammable liquids properly. They should never be poured down the drain or tossed into the trash. Most cities have drop-off locations for hazardous materials.
- If a flammable liquid ignites, do not try to extinguish the flames with water as this can spread the fire. Instead, use a class-B fire extinguisher.