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Flammable and Combustible Liquids

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    i. Flammable Materials

    Flammable and Combustible Liquids (Examples: alcohols, esters, ethers, ketones)
    Vapors from flammable and combustible liquids can mix with air and burn if they contact an ignition source. Possible ignition sources include hot electrical wires, hot surfaces, open flames, hot particles and embers, and sparks. The lowest temperature at which a liquid releases enough vapor to start burning is called the flash point. The flash point is what distinguishes a flammable liquid from a combustible liquid.

    Flammables: Liquids classified as flammable have flash points below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. At normal room temperature, flammable liquids are a much greater fire hazard than combustible liquids. Flammables include lacquer thinner, turpentine, acetone, ether, alcohol, gasoline, toluene and shellac. For example, ethyl ether (a common solvent) has a flash point (FP) of –49 deg. F and acetone has a FP of 0 deg. F. Combustibles: These liquids have vapors which burn when heated above 100 deg. F. Combustibles include fuel oil, kerosene, mineral oil and paints.

    Flammable Solids

    Examples –
    Organic Solids: camphor, cellulose nitrate and napthalene.
    Inorganic Solids: decaborane, lithium amide, phosphorous heptasulfide, phosphorous sesquisulfide, potassium sulfide, anhydrous sodium sulfide and sulfur
    Combustible Metals: (except dusts and powders): cesium, magnesium and zirconium, aluminum powder, calcium/magnesium/sodium metals.
    Combustible Dusts/Powders:(including metals): finely divided flammable solids which may be dispersed in air as a dust cloud. Examples: wood sawdust, plastics, coal, flour and powdered metal (few exceptions).

    Water Reactives: Sodium, potassium metal, certain metal hydrides such as lithium aluminum hydride and calcium hydride. Flammable solids are materials
    which burn so vigorously or persistently when ignited that a serious hazard is created. Flammable solids include finely divided solid materials which when dispersed in air as a cloud may be ignited and cause an explosion.

    Pyrophorics (Examples: titanium dichloride, phosphorus, tributyl aluminum, dichlorosilane, organoboranes)
    Pyrophorics are substances which present serious hazards due to their ability to ignite spontaneously upon contact with air. Accordingly, the use of these materials is specifically controlled by the CA Fire Code. Contact EH&S for review of new uses of pyrophorics.

    • Store in air-tight containers in a dark, cool and dry place; label containers with receiving and opening dates, and dispose before expiration date.
    • Yellow/white phosphorus should be stored and cut under water.
    • The severe consequences of pyrophoric compounds mandate careful review of handling and storage procedures.

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    Flammable and Combustible Liquids. (2016, Oct 30). Retrieved from

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