By Chad Engle, Loss Prevention and Safety Specialist

It is common knowledge that alcohol burns. We add ethanol (grain) to our fuel and use high ABV alcohol to add flames to fancy drinks or in cooking. Have you ever seen the flaming onion volcano at a Japanese steakhouse, you guessed it, alcohol.

Hand sanitizer is a big part of our efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus with most recommending a hand sanitizer with no less than 70% alcohol. When alcohol-based hand sanitizers are applied to our skin it evaporates quickly, so there is really no need for concern about flammability during use.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is concerned about safe storage of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have a flash point of approximately 63 degrees Fahrenheit. Which means when alcohol-based hand sanitizer is stored at room temperature if gives off enough vapor to ignite if it is exposed to an ignition source such as a spark or open flame.

I am aware of sources that have provided counties and agencies with large amounts of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The NFPA recommends that quantities of hand sanitizer above 5 gallons should be stored in a flammable liquids cabinet or in areas protected by an automatic sprinkler system. Fire safety best practices would also advise not storing smaller amounts of alcohol-based hand sanitizer near ignition sources. This would include mechanical and storerooms with an electrical panel, water heater, furnace, or boiler.

Should you have any questions regarding flammable liquid storage I can be reached at 1.800.642.6671 or chad@nirma.info.

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