Is Aloe Vera Flammable? (A Comprehensive Overview)

Is Aloe Vera Flammable?

The aloe vera plant is not flammable. For the aloe vera plant to catch on fire it must be very dry or it must be subjected to temperatures above 250 ºC.The aloe vera extracts, aloe vera gel, is also not flammable. This gel needs to be heated to above 250 ºC for it to catch on fire.

Aloe vera gel is obtained from aloe vera leaves and it is used in a wide variety of end products. Aloe vera based cosmetics and cleaning products may be flammable, that depends if they contain flammable substances in their components.

Aloe Vera Plant and its Extracts Fire Hazards

When talking abou Aloe vera, it is important to clarify that Aloe vera is a plant that has its leaf extracts (gel and latex) widely used worldwide for different purposes.

The fire hazards associated with the plant and its extract are somewhat similar. However when talking about aloe vera gel and aloe vera latex products such as cosmetics, the flammability can be quite distinct.

Aloe Vera Plant Fire Resistance

Aloe vera is considered resistant to fire. Nonetheless, if enough heat is applied the plant will eventually catch on fire.

Aloe vera is an arid plant therefore it hardly goes into a dry state, but if most of the water is removed from the plant it can catch on fire more easily.

Aloe Vera Gel Flash Point and Autoignition Temperature

The most direct way to determine the Aloe vera extract flammability is by looking at its flash point and autoignition point.

Aloe vera gel has a flash point higher than 250 ºC at which point most if not all the water has evaporated. The autoignition temperature of aloe vera gel is unknown, degradation occurs before autoignition.

Fumes Released if Aloe Vera Catch on Fire

If aloe vera does catch on fire it will release mostly carbon dioxide (CO2) and water along with relatively small amounts of acrid gases.

Aloe Vera Based Based Products that Can be Flammable

The information should be provided along with the product as to the potential fire hazards. Cosmetics and cleaning products often contain flammable substances.

Some aloe vera hand sanitizers for instance contain highly flammable ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol in high concentrations which is highly flammable. Therefore this aloe vera containing product is flammable.

The Aloe Vera Plant General Aspects

Aloe vera is a plant species of the Aloe genus, its leaves are thickened on the outside and the interior is filled with aloe vera extract. From this extract, a gel and a latex can be obtained. After the proper procedures this gel and its latex can be used by humans for a variety of applications.

This plant species also has dense rosettes that have creeping rhizomes. That provides this plant with relatively easy means of reproduction. Making this plant an invading species at times.

Aloe vera is a plant that can resist long periods of little to no water, it is also relatively resistant to fire.

The earlier known registry of Aloe vera as a therapeutic agent dates to 1500 B. C. in ancient Egypt. When its effects on pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects were described.

Aloe vera is a plant that can resist long periods of little to no water, it is also relatively resistant to fire. For its therapeutic values, Aloe vera has been used by many different cultures over the centuries, for example in China, Greece, India and in Rome.

By the end of the 15th century Aloe vera was brought to the americas.

A Brief Look at the Aloe Vera Toxicology

Several research studies have shown that Aloe vera plant contains multiple constituents with potential beneficial and toxicological activities.

Chemical analysis reveals that the Aloe vera plant contains various polysaccharides and phenolic chemicals, notably anthraquinones. Ingestion of Aloe vera products has been related to health disorders such as diarrhea, hypokalemia, pseudomelanosis coli, and kidney failure.

In 20013, studies on rats published have suggested that Aloe vera leaf extracts can be carcinogenic. Later, Aloe vera extracts were classified as possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. 

It is worth mentioning that these carcinogenic properties are associated with the ingestion of Aloe vera leaf extracts and not with its use on skin.

A Summary of the Therapeutic Importance of Aloe Vera

The main therapeutic uses of Aloe vera involve either the leaves, the gel or the latex (the gel and the latex are extracted from the leaves).

Can The Aloe Vera Gel be used as a Therapeutic Agent?

The most common use for the gel is to treat skin wounds or other probles such as hashes or burns. It is believed that the gel contains strong antimicrobial properties as well as anti-inflammatory potential.

Some also use the gel orally believing that it helps with gastrointestinal ulcers or for decreasing blood sugar levels.

The polysaccharide material that is present in the inner gel is considered noncytotoxic according to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel.

Can The Aloe Vera Latex be used as a Therapeutic Agent?

The FDA authorizes the use of the latex to relieve constipationis regulated as a drug by the FDA to relieve constipation. 

Can The Aloe Vera Leaves be used as a Therapeutic Agent?

The FDA regulates the whole leaf extract of Aloe vera to possess antibacterial/viral and anticancer activities.

However, given the presence of anthraquinones in the leaf extract and in the latex it is of paramount importance to monitor the concentration of these substances. Anthraquinones are phenolic compounds that are considered carcinogenic.

Are Aloe Vera Food Supplements Safe to Consume?

According to the The International Aloe Science Council Standard, the maximum permitted aloin content in Aloe-derived products for oral consumption is less than 0.001% (in mass). For other uses the maximum permitted amount is 0.005% (in mass).

General Composition of Aloe Vera

In order to shed some light on the understanding of the low flammability of Aloe vera, knowledge about the substances that compose the different portions of this plant is important.

General Composition of Aloe Vera Leaves

The Aloe vera leaves are primarily composed of water (~98%). The remaining composition is composed of thousands of different substances, some of which are unknown. The known substances include molecules that are commonly found in any plant species.

These commonly found substances include amino acids and carbohydrates. It also contains organic acids, lignins, phenolic compounds, phytosterols and anthraquinones.

From the above mentioned organic substances, organic acids and phenolic compounds can ignite with a certain ease. However, in normal circumstances (that is ambient temperature and pressure) they are not present in a concentration high enough to make the leaves readily flammable.

General Composition of Aloe Vera Extracts (Gel and Latex)

Aloe vera whole leaf extract, including the gel and the latex, contains more than

200 chemical substances.

On dried aloe vera gel, the general composition is (values given in mass percentage): polysaccharides (55), sugars (17), minerals (16), proteins (7), lipids (4), phenolic compounds (1).

Similarly to the Aloe vera leaves, the gel and the latex are also mainly made up of water. That is the main reason that they are also non-flammable under regular conditions.

Aloe Vera Gel Uses

In modern days Aloe vera is used in the industry of food, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and materials. This plant is also used by some cultures as traditional medicine in gardens as an ornamental plant.

Some  Plants are Flammable

Overall, any plant with low moisture, with dry limbs and or with a high amount of oil (e. g. rosemary) are potentially flammable.

Below is a small list of plant genus that are known to be flammable in ordinary circumstances:

TreesShrubs
AcaciaBamboo
ArbovitaeJuniper
CypressLauren sumac
FirSagebrush
PineScrub oak
SpruceWild lilac

Conclusion

Some facts regarding the flammability of aloe vera leafs, aloe vera gel and some aloe vera based cosmetics. Aloe vera leafs and gel are hardly flammable. aloe vera cosmetics may be flammable but the flammability is attributed to other chemicals such as alcohols and oils.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Is Aloe Vera Flammable?

Does heat destroy aloe vera gel?

Heat of up to 50 ºC for a few minutes will not do considerable damage to the gel. Overall, any heat will diminish the effectiveness of the relevant properties of the Aloe vera gel.

What happens if I heat aloe vera?

The water content will start to evaporate. The organic substances present in it will start to evaporate or decompose. Small amounts of heat for short periods of time will do relatively little damage to the extracts of Aloe vera. 

Is aloe vera poisonous?

It depends on the amount and on the procedures employed to prepare the aloe vera product. 

Can I eat aloe vera raw?

It is not recommended to ingest large amounts of Aloe vera raw.

Can you use aloe vera straight from the plant?

It is recommended to perform the proper procedures in order for the highest effectiveness.

Which type of aloe vera is poisonous?

In the ALoe genus, three species are known to have leaf sap that gives off a strong ratty odor. These three species are: Aloe ballyi, Aloe elata and Aloe ruspoliana.

References

Ahlawat, K.S., Khatkar, B.S. Processing, food applications and safety of aloe vera products: a review. J Food Sci Technol 48, 525–533 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-011-0229-z

Flammability of some plant species: https://fireandemergency.nz/home-and-community-fire-safety/flammability-of-plant-species/

General information about Aloe vera: https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/4192

Review report on some therapeutic properties of Aloe vera:

Hekmatpou D, Mehrabi F, Rahzani K, Aminiyan A. The Effect of Aloe Vera Clinical Trials on Prevention and Healing of Skin Wound: A Systematic Review. Iran J Med Sci. 2019 Jan;44(1):1-9.

Review report on the toxicity associated with Aloe vera:

Xiaoqing Guo & Nan Mei (2016) Aloe vera: A review of toxicity and adverse clinical effects, Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part C, 34:2, 77-96. https://doi.org/10.1080/10590501.2016.1166826

Studies that suggest an association between cancer and Aloe vera:

National Toxicology Program. Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of a nondecolorized

whole leaf extract of Aloe vera in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice.

http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/htdocs/lt_rpts/tr577_508.pdf

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