With how common essential oils are, people tend to use them for many things. The different functionalities range from use on the skin, kitchen floors, pets, candles, diffusers etc. Nonetheless, there are still debates on whether essential oils offer significant health benefits or not.
I won’t give an opinion on essential oil for therapeutic and aromatic purposes in this article. Instead, we will evaluate whether essential oils are flammable and if they cold pose a fire hazard in your home. I will also give you some amazing tips to make sure that you stay safe when using essential oils.
So is essential oil flammable?
Yes, essential oils are flammable. The oil has a low flashpoint. As a result, it catches fire easily. However, the oils are combustible to varying degrees since there are different types of essential oil. In essence, some oils are more flammable than others. To signify its high flammability, some countries classify essential oil as a fire hazard and won’t allow it on a plane.
Take extra precautions when you are working with essential oils. Sadly, since most people don’t know how dangerous the oil can be, they use them in ways they should not. Read on for more information about how flammable essential oils are and how to use them safely.
Can essential oil catch fire near a flame?
Essential oils will spontaneously catch fire when a naked flame comes in contact with the oil. It will even be worse if it is a concentrated essential oil. Although an electric spark will not ignite an essential oil, a naked flame will.
Some countries consider old essential oil bottles as hazardous waste. As a result, they don’t recycle the bottles until they thoroughly clean out the oil. They do this to reduce the risk of a fire outbreak.
As we mentioned earlier, some essential oils are more flammable than others and must be treated with extra caution.
Some of the essential oils that are highly flammable include:
- Eucalyptus essential oil: Always keep this essential oil away from open flames of direct sunlight to reduce the risk of a fire hazard.
- Frankincense essential oil: Although people don’t use frankincense oil as often as other oils, it is also very flammable.
- Tea tree essential oil: This oil is so flammable we recommend you don’t stand close to an open flame after rubbing it on your body.
- Lemon essential oil: Lemon oil is another flammable oil that you should handle with caution. Keep it away from open flame.
- Lavender oil: Lavender oil is popular and often used on the skin and other surfaces. However, be careful about the surface you use it on and its proximity to open flame.
- Peppermint essential oil: Keep peppermint away from oil burners as it can be highly flammable.
Almost all essential oils are flammable. However, there are few like sandalwood, clove, and wintergreen with high flashpoints – more than 199.4 degrees Fahrenheit required by OSHA. Nonetheless, oils with high flash points can still catch fire quite easily.
What makes essential oil flammable?
Low flashpoint is what makes essential oil flammable. Because the oils have a relatively low flash point, they will likely catch fire near open flame or produce high flame if the heat is too much.
The flashpoint is the lowest temperature a chemical can vaporize into an ignitable mixture. At this temperature, the liquid gives off enough vapors that will ignite in the presence of an open flame, heat, or spark.
Essential oil flashpoints vary between 100–215-degree Fahrenheit. However, oils with flashpoints lower than 140-degree Fahrenheit are considered flammable.
Apart from the flashpoint, another mistake people make is to underestimate how flammable essential oils are. Unknown to most people, some essential oils can produce bigger flames and burn easily than gasoline.
As a result, some users will leave their oil containers open beside open flame. Luckily, most essential oils come in a fire-resistant container to reduce the risk of a fire outbreak.
How to store essential oil safely
Below are some safety tips to help minimise any potential fire hazards associated with essential oil use.
Store in dark glass bottles
Essential oils will oxide faster when they are exposed to light. When this happens, the oil will lose its fragrance and other therapeutic properties. Dark glasses will reduce the risk of oxidation but will not eliminate the risk. You can use violet, green, cobalt-blue, or amber glass bottles. That said, don’t use clear glass or any form of plastic. The reason is that oil will break down most plastics. As a result, this will compromise the storage and the state of the oil.
Use bottles with airtight caps
Exposure to air and sunlight will cause oxidation. To avoid this, use bottles with an airtight seal. Choose bottles with decorative plug-in stoppers to ensure air or oil cannot get in or out of the bottle. Screw-on caps provide a better seal.
Also, avoid bottles with rubber-bulb-capped lids. Instead, use bottles with solid caps. Although bottles with rubber built into the cap are convenient to use, the rubber will deteriorate with use and may break down into the oil. To avoid this, use bottles with solid screw-on caps.
Store your oil in a stable environment
Keep essential oils away from direct sunlight, open flame, or heat. Sunlight also increases oxidation. Therefore, instead of storing on shelves, choose closets or inside the drawers, keep your essential oil in a cool, dry place with a regulated temperature.
Alternatively, you can store your oil in a refrigerator. This will reduce exposure to air and keep the oil at a stable and cool temperature. Even if your oil solidifies, it will return to a liquid state when you remove it from the refrigerator. Don’t put essential oils in freezers, as this will damage the oil and reduce its quality.
Avoid heat sources
Store your oil away from a heat source. Also, don’t leave the cap open after use. If you can, buy an aromatherapy storage box to store all your oils in one place, away from sunlight.
Essential oils are natural and safe to use on the skin, clothes, and other household surfaces. However, handle them with caution to prevent a fire outbreak. Store your oils in an ideal place and always clean spills afterward. In all, treat your essential oil with care and caution.
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