Is Aerosol Deodorant Flammable?

In this article we will answer the following question: “Is Aerosol Deodorant Flammable?”, and other important matters that may arise

Is Aerosol Deodorant Flammable?

The short answer is: definitely. Aerosol Deodorants contain propellants that are usually very flammable, so they might as well explode. Usually, the solvent that’s used to boost fragrance and other compounds in our body is a liquefied gas, which is very flammable.

What is deodorant?

Deodorant is any substance that can prevent body odor or mask the smell once is installed. Odor control can be accomplished by any means.

The odor is caused by microbes that eventually settle in some body areas, normally the parts that get more covered and skin-folded, like armpits.

Usually, antiperspirants are added to a commercial deodorant so sweat can be prevented as well. It happens as a result of the clogging of our skin pores, blocking our sweat glands.

Deodorant ingredients

The active ingredient mostly used that makes aerosol deodorants prevent sweating is called Aluminum Chlorohydrate. The other ingredients are propellant gases, solvents, fragrances, and other minor constituents.

Deodorant action and sweating

The deodorant mechanism of action consists of the interaction with an aluminum compound that creates a mechanical obstruction of eccrine sweat ducts.

Sweating is normally a natural response of our body to heat, which tries to cool it to approximately 37ºC. It can be influenced by environmental conditions, fever, and physical exercise.

There is also a physical condition called hyperhidrosis, in which a person exceeds greatly the amount of sweat required to cool the body.

In the last few decades, the association between the use of deodorants and breast cancer has grown. A recent review study showed no positive association between these two but also said that more studies are required.

Precautions

Deodorants can be deadly. They can cause fires and explosions, and their content is usually toxic. Inhaling it enough only once can lead to death. Here are some relevant points:

  • Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Keep them away from ignition sources such as fires, heat sources, sunlight, and sparks. Also, beware not to smoke close to or after using.
  • Don’t spray it on open flames.
  • Use it in a well-ventilated area.
  • Safeguard it according to the label instructions.
  • Do not leave it without the cover, especially when traveling. Other artifacts may get in contact and press the button (Also check with your traveling company before carrying flammable goods onboard).
  • Even if it appears to be empty it might still be flammable.
  • Keep it away from the sun.
  • Don’t leave it in the car for too long, especially if the windows are closed and/or is a sunny day.

Flammability

Even though aerosol deodorants and antiperspirants are very common, people normally don’t realize their hazards. 

Every can of deodorant can create an explosion if the right wrong conditions were given. 

We often neglect the instructions on day-to-day product labels, assuming they’re too simple, but if we don’t possess knowledge of what we have at home, things can go wrong.

To have a better idea of how and why aerosol deodorants are a potential danger, let’s first examine some of the chemistry involved.

Fires

Fire is the result of a reaction in which a source of fuel gets consumed in the presence of oxygen, generating heat in the form of fire and light. It also produces carbon dioxide, water, and a wide variety of gases, often toxic.

Combustion is a chemical reaction in which a hydrocarbon source interacts with oxygen if the right conditions were applied. A fire can continue to grow if enough heat is provided (and it keeps having fuel to do so), but the heat comes from the reaction itself.

Therefore, to prevent a fire it’s always required to impede an ignition to occur. Extinguishing a large fire is never an easy thing.

But what is a hydrocarbon?

Everything that exists in this world and can be weighted has mass. If it has mass it’s because is made of atoms. You can imagine them as building blocks, and there are nearly infinite ways they can be assembled to form molecules.

A very specific class of molecules is called hydrocarbons, which have carbon and hydrogen as their basic building blocks.

Nature has already assembled these blocks in any way possible. In chemistry, we name these molecules after the amount of carbon present in their carbon chain, as you can see from the picture below.

source: http://www.chemistryland.com/ElementarySchool/BuildingBlocks/BuildingOrganic.htm

Methane is therefore the smallest compound that can be burned.

Imagine more carbons (and their associated hydrogens) being added to a chain like the ones above. The more mass it has, the more solid it gets. 

For example: if there are 8 carbons in a chain we are talking about gasoline. If there are 20, it’s paraffine. 

The smaller an organic molecule is, the more volatile it is as well. If we ignite a confined gas such as this we would then surely see an explosion. 

But being volatile is not a good or bad thing alone. Of course, it can be burned easier, but it can also be carried away in the wind since the compounds are lighter than the air. 

That’s why fabricants always state that sprays should be used in a well-ventilated space.

Aerosol deodorant flammability

The solvents used in aerosol deodorants and antiperspirants are the greatest danger.

This Dove Antiperspirant, for example, has Butane, Isobutane, and Propane in its constitution. The compounds are incredibly flammable and shouldn’t be anywhere near a fire source, just like any similar spray.

But does that means that aerosol deodorants are not safe?

Anything that is been sold extensively and that has passed through all the safety trials and criteria should be considered safe, but only if the safety instructions are followed by the customer. 

Check the “Precautions” section if you need more information.

A deodorant flask might still explode if heated or in contact with a source of ignition. Never assume that a flask is empty.

When a spray deodorant stops working is because the inside pressure is nearly equal to the pressure outside, so there are still gases inside, they just won’t come out.

Conclusion

Aerosol Deodorants are flammable, even explosives. Label instructions shouldn’t be overmined; the fabricants want us safe so we can continue to buy their products. The solvents, especially the organic ones and alcohol,  are the greatest flammable hazard.

But the risk of combustion is only one of the problems. There are also toxic gases that could kill if inhaled only once, but it is safe to be used topically (in the right body areas, according to the label).

Also, there’s no scientific background to sustain a positive correlation between the use of antiperspirants and breast cancer.

Frequent Asked Questions (FAQS): Is Aerosol Deodorant Flammable?

Is aerosol flammable?

Commercially, an aerosol is any substance kept under pressure and can be released as a spray. These products are usually flammable and can even explode.

Is roll-on deodorant flammable?

There’s no standard formula for deodorants and antiperspirants. It’s always safer to assume it’s flammable than the other way around. But aerosols are surely more flammable.

Is solid deodorant flammable?

Same as the roll-on case. There’s no specific formula followed by all manufacturers, so we can’t generalize. We can assume that all of them are flammable for safety purposes, only. Unless the fabricant told otherwise.

Is aerosol spray flammable?

Well, aerosol and spray are just different names given commercially. When in doubt, always assume that an under pressure can gas is highly flammable, because most are.

Citations

ALLAM, Mohamed Farouk. Breast cancer and deodorants/antiperspirants: a systematic review. Central European journal of public health, v. 24, n. 3, p. 245, 2016.

BENOHANIAN, Antranik. Antiperspirants and deodorants. Clinics in Dermatology, v. 19, n. 4, p. 398-405, 2001.

SAUNDERS, Keith J. Organic polymer chemistry: an introduction to the organic chemistry of adhesives, fibers, paints, plastics and rubbers. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/fda/fdaDrugXsl.cfm?setid=c88fa86b-3a24-499e-8e6c-a2f5e566c107&type=display

http://www.chemistryland.com/ElementarySchool/BuildingBlocks/BuildingOrganic.htm

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