Is cinnamon powder flammable?

In this article we will answer the question: “Is cinnamon powder flammable?”, and provide other useful information about cinnamon and the risk involved in using it.

Is cinnamon powder flammable?

Cinnamon doesn’t present a big flammability hazard, but it could catch fire under the right circumstances. Cinnamon is essentially bark, which is usually flammable, so we must take good care so the conditions for ignition are never provided.

What is cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a condiment. It comes from the bark and flowers of the trees from the genus Cinnamomum.

It is used in many cuisines due to its aromatic characteristics. Its scent comes from the essential oil named cinnamaldehyde but also from another compound named eugenol. 

There are several species of cinnamon trees, but the most common are named Cinnamomum verum and Cinnamomum cassia.

Cassia cinnamon arrived in Egypt 2500 years ago and started being used as an additive to embalming mixtures. Greeks, Romans, and ancient Hebrews are pointed as the first to use it as a cooking spice.

Cinnamon eventually arrived in Europe by the 17th century, when its culinary use was established.

Forms of cinnamon

Cinnamon comes in two forms: powdered and sticks. The first one can be considered more flammable than the other, but it depends on the scenarios we make available, as we will see.

Both forms can be used in a kitchen, but the sticks are more commonly applied on ornaments as well.

Cinnamon’s physical and chemical properties

So, cinnamon has wood-like properties. The bark has organic compounds that can be ignited.

One of the most important components it has is called Cinnamaldehyde. It is an essential oil that brings much of the aroma to bark. 

Like most oils, it can catch fire if it’s heated a little. This happens because the oil has organic compounds within that can evaporate and ignite easily if a source of ignition is provided.

As a consequence of this volatile attribute, oils tend to be flammable. 

Cinnamaldehyde is considered a very flammable substance, in its pure form.

Cinnamon toxicity

Cinnamon is not very toxic but has some levels of coumarin, a compound that presents some levels of toxicity and can damage the liver.

The species Cinnamomum cassia is considered more toxic than others. For an average person, one teaspoon of cassia bark is already above the maximum daily intake for people around 50kg, according to the European Food Safety Authority.

Coumarin was banned as a food additive in the 50s, by the U.S, with a few exceptions. 

Extracted forms of cinnamaldehyde do not have coumarin in their constitution.

Cinnamon flammability

So, cinnamon is bark. Because of that, it presents wood-like properties.

Cinnamon can ignite at temperatures above 121°C (250°F).

In its powdered version, the flammability is the highest. 

In this video you can see cinnamon powder being thrown at an intense fire, resulting in even more fire.

It is possible that flammable organic compounds evaporate from powdered cinnamon if there’s heat close by. Even sunlight can be enough.

If enough volatile organic compounds (VOCs) come out of the bark and stay close to each other, they could ignite and start a bigger fire.

But in order to do so, we must first allow this scenario. 

We’ve collected a few material safety data sheets for you. 

Cinnamon powder safety data sheets

We have found some specific safety data about common commercialized powdered cinnamon products.

They all are about powdered cinnamon, but none specifically states that their product is flammable. 

But at the same time, they imply that the product is combustible and should be kept away from ignition sources and flames, which is fundamentally what we said in this article.

So why don’t we see many fires initiated by cinnamon?

Well, we only use cinnamon in small dosages at home.

The product is not so flammable, and specific conditions are required in order for it to catch fire. 

You would need a good amount of cinnamon and allow it to evaporate so the risk increases in your place, our considerably big flames to burn the powder on site.

The hazard is more viable in factories that extract cinnamon oils, and in places that store a big amount of it. But such facilities already (or should) follow a strict set of laws that makes the job safe for workers.

Although it’s important to understand that it’s possible for powdered cinnamon to ignite, it’s not likely it will burn our home.

Is cinnamon a fire hazard?

It can be, but normally it’s not. People commonly burn cinnamon to extract nice aromas into the air and, overall, there’s no problem with that.

But if it is done in a small room, the flammable volatile compounds could get trapped, and a flammable cloud might be formed.

This could even lead to an explosion.

If you want to burn cinnamon, do it in a well-ventilated area and make sure that there are no other flammable materials within reach.

Conclusion

Cinnamon powder is not exactly free from being considered a fire hazard but is not likely that it will start a big fire under normal conditions. If you store your cinnamon spices away from the sun, heat, and ignition sources, there’s be no problem.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS): Is cinnamon powder flammable?

Is cinnamon good for you?

There’s still no strong scientific evidence that cinnamon can have any significant therapeutical effect, but it had been used in traditional medicine for at least 4700 years.

But it can be good for you for many reasons. It can add taste, aroma, and flavor to your foods and beverages, or leave a nice smell in your place.

Is Cinnamon Toxic to Dogs?

There are no fatal toxic effects evidenced on dogs after feeding them with cinnamon, but it could cause skin and digestive irritation if eaten too much. The same works for humans.

Why cinnamon tastes sweet?

This is due to the presence of an essential oil named Cinnamaldehyde. It provides a sweet/ fruity scent that is well-known by the food industry.

Citations

Wijesekera, R. O. B., & Chichester, C. O. (1978). The chemistry and technology of cinnamon. C R C Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 10(1), 1–30. doi:10.1080/10408397809527243

Gruenwald, J., Freder, J., & Armbruester, N. (2010). Cinnamon and Health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 50(9), 822–834. doi:10.1080/10408390902773052 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamaldehyde

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