Is glacial acetic acid flammable?

In this blog post, we will answer the question, “Is glacial acetic acid flammable?”. We will also discuss what glacial acetic acid is, its uses, how to use and store glacial acetic acid safely, and how to extinguish fire caused by glacial acetic acid.

Is glacial acetic acid flammable?

Yes. Glacial acetic acid is flammable. Glacial acetic acid has been given a flammability rating of 2 (moderate fire danger) by the National Fire Protection Association. 

In a closed cup, the flash point is 39°C (103°F). Glacial acetic acid will shortly ignite if exposed to an open flame after reaching a temperature of 39°C (103°F).

It also has a 427°C (800°F) autoignition temperature. It indicates that, at such a temperature, glacial acetic acid will spontaneously generate a blazing fire without the aid of an external ignition source.

What is glacial acetic acid?

Glacial acetic acid is a popular term for pure acetic acid (99.5-100%). The liquid is hygroscopic due to its anhydrous nature. 

“Glacial” is inferred from the crystal clear solids looking like ice that develops around 61.9°F (16.6°C). 

Although glacial acetic acid is categorized as a weak acid, its corrosive properties could bring harm or death to human tissue. 

It causes irritation at concentrations ranging from 10% to 25%. At 25%, it is corrosive and must be dealt with in a fume hood. 

Liquid or droplets can damage the tissues, especially the mouth, eyes, and respiratory organ when it comes into contact.

What are the uses of glacial acetic acid?

Glacial acetic acid is usually diluted into specific concentrations instead of used as it is. 

Acetic acid has been widely utilized in industrial processes, medical, food manufacturing, and industry, for ages. 

Industrial processes

In several industrial processes, acetic acid is frequently used in chemical reactions to produce a wide range of chemical compounds, such as vinegar, vinyl acetate monomer, ester, acetic anhydride, and numerous other polymers. 

As a solvent for recrystallization, it is used to refine organic molecules.

Medical use

Some sources show that diluted acetic acid has been utilized for several medicinal applications, although the glacial form generally does not have medical utility. 

There are occasions when pharmacists must synthesize and distribute chemical-grade glacial acetic acid before it is safe for human consumption. 

Even though the bottle has warning labels, patients have been injured on several occasions when glacial acetic acid was administered rather than a diluted formulation.

For diagnosis, acetic acid is used in oral screening and lesion identification and Barrett’s esophagus. 

As a treatment, it’s been used to flush out the bladder and clean wounds. A 1%-5% topical solution is utilized for cervicoscopy, ear wax removal, and iontophoresis. 

Some also employ acetic acid for alkali skin burns as a neutralizing agent, as well as for wound infections and vaginal douching. 

Food industry

Commercial pickling operations and condiments like mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup are the most prevalent places to locate acetic acid in the food sector. 

Salads, soups, and other dishes can also be seasoned with it. When vinegar reacts with alkaline chemicals like baking soda, it releases a gas that aids in the puffing up of baked products.

How to extinguish fire caused by glacial acetic acid?

To extinguish fire caused by glacial acetic acid, you can follow these steps:

  • Acetic acid flames can be put out using water spray, carbon dioxide, alcohol foam, or dry chemicals.
  • Cool down exposed containers with a water spray. Water can be used to disperse fumes and protect those trying to halt a leak or spill.
  • It is best to fight acetic acid fires upwind and as far away from the flames as possible. Place the hazard in a separate location and refuse entry to anyone who doesn’t need it.
  • Personnel responding to an emergency should avoid entering low-lying places and open any enclosed compartments first. Vapor explosions and toxic risks can occur indoors, outdoors, and in sewers.
  • When vapors are near an ignition source, they might flashback. There is a risk that acetic acid containers will explode due to the flame’s heat; therefore, they should be moved out of the way if feasible. 
  • If this is not feasible, use water to cool containers on their sides until the fire is out.
  • Container rims should be avoided at all costs. 
  • Leave soon if there is a soaring sound from a venting safety device.
  • Fire-control water should be contained in dikes for later disposal.
  • If a tanker or truck is on fire, firefighters should put out the flames within a half-mile radius all around the vehicle. 
  • When battling acetic acid-related flames, firefighters should be fully outfitted (including a self-contained breathing apparatus) with protective gear.

It is possible that firefighters’ protective apparel will not be able to protect them from acetic acid penetration.

Is glacial acetic acid toxic?

Yes. Glacial acetic acid is toxic. 

One of the most common causes of eye and skin irritation is acetic acid in vapor form. 

80% or higher acetic acid solutions can cause severe burns to exposed tissue when in contact with the skin or eyes. 

Chronic bronchitis and other respiratory issues, cracked and darkened skin, and tooth enamel decay are all possible side effects of long-term exposure to the glacial acetic acid gas.

Acetic acid may induce eye, nose, and throat irritation, a cough, a tightening of the chest, a headache, fever, and dizziness when inhaled. 

In severe instances, a rapid heartbeat, damage to the airways, and damage to the eyes can occur. 

Higher doses induce stomach aches, swallowing difficulties, trouble breathing,  tongue and throat burning, and vomiting.

Skin irritation from exposure to acetic acid can result in itching, blistering, and even ulceration. Inflammation, light sensitivity, and burns are all symptoms of prolonged eye contact.

There was thickening and blackening of the skin on the hands, ocular irritation, tooth erosion (of both canines and incisors), and chronic pharyngitis and bronchitis in five workers exposed to acetic acid vapors for 7-12 years at 80-200 ppin.

How to store acetic acid safely?

This acid is best kept in the refrigerator or freezer at -4 degrees Celcius because of its low combustion temperature. Even if you have a secured metal lab cabinet, refrigerating is a far more secure way to store a glacial acetic acid. 

A small-necked glass bottle is typically used for shipping because the glass is resistant to the acid’s corrosive effects, and the narrow neck is safer in the case of a spill. 

Strong oxidizers, such as sodium peroxide, nitric acid, and chrome acid, as well as strong acids and bases such as chlorine bleach, should not be placed near it.

NIOSH recommends the following conditions for storage:

  • Fireproof.
  • Food and feedstuffs are kept away from powerful oxidants, acids, and bases.
  • Make sure to use the original packaging.
  • The packaging is closed securely.
  • Use a well-ventilated area to keep the product safe.
  • Store in a place that doesn’t have a drain or sewer.

How to use glacial acetic acid safely?

Latex glove is permeable to this substance. Wear nitrile rubber gloves. The use of two pairs of gloves is a wise caution. 

In addition to non-latex gloves, you should wear a lab coat, goggles, face mask, and pants covering your lower body. 

When dealing with this chemical, adequate ventilation must be provided. It must always be used in a fume hood.


In this blog post, we have answered the question, “Is glacial acetic acid flammable?”. We also have discussed what glacial acetic acid is, its uses, how to use and store glacial acetic acid safely, and how to extinguish fire caused by glacial acetic acid.

Comment down below if you have more questions about glacial acetic acid flammability.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Is glacial acetic acid flammable?

What should you do if you spill glacial acetic acid?

If you spill glacial acetic acid:

  • The first thing to do is to extinguish any sources of ignition.
  • Wear a chemical-resistant suit that has a self-contained air supply.
  • Sealable containers should be used to catch any dripping fluids.
  • Use sodium carbonate under the supervision of a professional to neutralize a spilled liquid.
  • This chemical MUST NOT be released into the environment.


Doles, W., Wilkerson, G., Morrison, S., & Richmond, R. G. (2015). Glacial Acetic Acid Adverse Events: Case Reports and Review of the Literature. Hospital pharmacy, 50(4), 304–309.

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