Is Hand Sanitizer a Fire Hazard?


As we all know from our experience with the Covid-19 pandemic, proper hand washing and disinfecting with hand sanitizers have proven to be effective methods for killing germs and viruses before they can be spread. While finding this preventative item was difficult initially, hand sanitizer can easily be purchased in most retail stores now. We all carry some in our bags, keep it stocked in our homes, and find it at the entrance to most public buildings. The CDC recommends at least a 60 percent alcohol level for hand sanitizer to be effective. This type of alcohol is also known as ethanol or ethyl alcohol. Yet, along with the benefits, the National Fire Protection Association warns consumers that the alcohol contained in hand sanitizers is flammable and should be stored properly while keeping safety in mind.



How is hand sanitizer flammable?


When considering the flammability of hand sanitizers, experts say the flash point is a key component. This is the temperature at which the product will ignite when exposed to an open flame. For standard hand sanitizers with a 70 percent alcohol level, the flash point is 63 degrees Fahrenheit, lower than most room temperatures. That means it will ignite easily. Although it is flammable, it will not spontaneously combust in a hot car.



Can we still feel safe using hand sanitizer?


Yes! Because the product evaporates and dries quickly on your hand, you should have no fears. Once hand sanitizer has dried, the threat of ignition is gone along with the viruses and germs. Mechanical contractors who work around tools or equipment that may give off sparks have been advised to make sure their hands are completely dry before returning to their task, as some injuries have occurred.



Store hand sanitizer safely.


Many businesses, schools, retail stores, and commercial properties offer hand sanitizer to their customers, students and employees. These places are purchasing and storing larger quantities than they ever have before. If this describes you, the NFPA codes 13 and 30 give guidance for storage and explain requirements such as shelving types and sprinkler systems for quantities over 5 gallons.


If you are storing larger quantities of hand sanitizer and need help making sure you are doing it safely, we can help. At Millennium Fire, we have over 20 years of experience with NFPA codes. With safety as our number one priority for all our customers, we install and maintain fire systems based on your needs. Call us at 407-890-0506 for more information.