Is iodophor flammable? (A Comprehensive Overview)

This article will answer the following question: “Is iodophor flammable?”. We will present the most common forms of iodophor, how they work, how flammable they can be, and also discuss other relevant topics about iodine compounds and sanitizers.

Is iodophor flammable?

Iodophor is not considered flammable. Iodine itself is an inorganic specie that can’t burn. Iodophor solutions are composed mainly of water and acids, which are non-flammable solvents. 

Although, make sure that the product you possess is iodophor. You can do so by checking the label and seeing the ingredients. Some iodine solutions such as iodine tincture have alcohol in their formulation. They are not called iodophors.

What is iodophor?

Iodophor is an antiseptic product whose active ingredient is iodine.

Its main commercial use is by breweries and winemakers. If used adequately, it does not require rinsing. Its application in machinery is easy and the sanitizing effect can be achieved in 2 minutes.

Iodophor is also extensively used in dairy industries as well.

Iodophor solutions are normally acids with pH between 2 and 5.

Several commercially available products can be called iodophors. Their composition is mainly aqueous and acidic.

What is iodophor made of?

Iodophor is a solution containing iodine and a solubilizing agent.

The solutions often present a yellow-brownish color and often present a strong and unpleasant smell.

Iodine itself doesn’t mix with water very well, so other solvents are required so we can have a liquid solution that can be easily applied.

Iodine is commonly complexed using an organic molecule that acts like a carrier, typically a water-soluble polymer.

One of the most common forms of iodophor is a solution with Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), complexed with between 9% and 12% iodine. The main function of PVP is to solubilize iodine.

PVP itself doesn’t present toxicity to cells. It can be taken orally and would pass through our bodies unchanged unless one is allergic to it.

Besides solubilizing iodine, the polymer reaches a chemical equilibrium that allows some concentration of free iodine to be available in the solution at all times, which enhances sanitizing effects.

But what is iodine?

Iodine is a chemical element that can be found in the periodic table.

It’s a halogen, a member of group 17 in the periodic table. It’s the heaviest member of its group, and coincidently the heaviest essential mineral nutrient for our bodies.

It exists in many forms. We usually don’t encounter it in its pure form (called primordial), only in salts or in a liquid solution. Commercially available forms of iodine are not pure forms of it.

Iodine is solid and has the formula I2 in its pure crystalline form, but it can also be gas and present the same formula. It also exists as Iodide (I), iodate (IO3), some kinds of acid, and periodate anions (IO4, IO6−5, and others).

Iodine’s primary use is in our nutrition. We require Iodine in our bodies so it can synthesize thyroid hormones. The lack of it may lead us to disinvolve goiter disease and prejudice the central nervous system development in fetuses and infants.

Knowing that iodine deficiency is prejudicial, some governments oblige manufacturers to supplement table salt with iodine. Around 88% of all households worldwide use iodized salt, but it’s still a problem in some underdeveloped countries.

Some forms of salts considered gourmets, such as Himalayan Pink Salt, Kosher salt, Smoked salts, and others, may not have iodide added to their formulation.

If you mainly consume a salt that doesn’t contain iodine, consider speaking to a doctor about starting iodine supplementation.

Industrially, iodide anion is used as a catalyst in the production of acetic acid, and in organic chemistry to synthesize certain polymers.

How do Iodophor works?

Iodophor is a sanitizing agent. Its antimicrobial action allows direct effects on cells, disturbing protein synthesis, eventually leading to cell death.

The antimicrobial action of iodine is certain, but its specific mode of action is unknown. We can assume that it attacks some amino acids, nucleotides, and fatty acids, preventing peptide synthesis and resulting in cell death.

Iodine and iodophor are widely used worldwide as antiseptics. Its medicinal use is so important that it is part of the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

Is iodophor flammable? Is it highly flammable?

No. Iodophor is water-based and presents no flammability.

Iodophor solutions are normally made of an acid diluted in water, such as Hydriodic acid and Phosphoric Acid, but might also contain organic compounds such as nonylphenol.

Although, we couldn’t find any iodophor solution that presents any flammability because the major constituent is always water. We present some examples below.

But before lowering your guard down, make sure that the product you possess is iodophor. Check the label, read the ingredients and make sure that it’s mostly made of water.

There are other iodine products such as iodine tincture that have alcohol in their formulation instead of water. In such cases, the product is flammable, even highly flammable and explosive.

Are iodine and iodophor the same?

Iodine is the active ingredient that’s present in every iodine compound, including: iodized salt, potassium iodide, silver iodide, iodophor, povidone-iodine, and others.

Iodophor is a chemical compound that has iodine in its formulation. Iodine is the name of an atom. Pure forms of iodine are not exactly made of primordial iodine (the atom itself) but the iodine molecule I2.

Some people may call any form of iodine compounds iodine. It’s important to distinguish between them because their properties and hazards vary.

Is iodophor the same as povidone iodine?

Not exactly. They both have the same properties, but iodophor doesn’t necessarily have the same ingredients as povidone-iodine.

Povidone-iodine can be considered as a type of iodophor, but not the other way around.

Povidone-iodine is a complexation between iodine and a water-soluble polymer, but some iodophors don’t have polymers added to their formulation.

Is iodophor the same as the tincture of iodine?

Not exactly. Their uses are similar, but can’t be considered synonyms. 

Iodophor is an aqueous and acidic solution that has iodine as the active ingredient. 

The tincture of iodine also has the same active ingredient, but the rest of the solution is different. Iodine tincture is composed of ethanol, potassium iodide, and sodium iodide as well.

Because of that, the tincture of iodine is normally flammable, while the other forms of antiseptic iodine are not. There’s also a similar compound called Lugol’s iodine, which doesn’t have ethanol added.

Iodophor Safety Data Sheets

The safety of using, handling, and storing many kinds of products, especially potentially hazardous ones, is a major concern of manufacturers, authorities, and agencies.

Because of that, most products have their hazards compiled and expressed in a document that can normally be found online. 

Safety Data Sheets  (SDS) have all relevant information regarding the hazards of a product, especially the ones that are liquid or can become airborne, because of the easier route of exposure.

Here we present some of these documents and briefly explain what they talk about.


Iodophor is not flammable because it’s water-based. The active ingredient is iodine, which can’t burn. Some formulations may have an organic solvent added, which is normally flammable, but the percentage is too low so the product doesn’t become flammable.

Other iodine antiseptic products have alcohol in their formulation. To safely figure out if a product would be flammable or not it’s better to carefully read the label and Safety Data Sheets.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS): Is iodophor flammable?

Is iodophor an antiseptic?

Yes. Iodophor is a compound that uses iodine as its active ingredient, a chemical compound that can find its way into microorganism cells to prevent them from producing proteins.

Proteins are essential for life. Because of this action mechanism, microbes eventually end up dying, which is the purpose of an antiseptic.

Is iodophor a high-level disinfectant?

Iodophor is used as an antiseptic and disinfectant worldwide. Although, it is not considered a chemical sterilant by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and can’t be considered a high-level disinfectant.

Industrially, the compound is mainly used in breweries and wineries as a cleaning agent, so it is strong enough to be used in food production machinery.

Is iodophor no rinse sanitizer?

Iodophor is used in food making, especially in breweries, due to its disinfectant capacities and its no-rinse capabilities. Although, some professionals prefer not to use it because of its characteristic odor, even though it is not carried to the final product.


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