It’s hard to deal with unpleasant odors, but thanks to the modern invention of air fresheners, we don’t have to deal with them for very long. We’ve all used an air freshener to renew the air in a room or a car, but should we be so calm about spraying air freshener all over? Is it possible that the air freshener is a serious fire hazard just waiting to catch fire when it’s put into use tackling a nasty scent?
Air fresheners can be flammable, depending on how they are supplied. Air freshening chemicals themselves are not usually flammable, but some use propellant chemicals that are highly flammable. So, if you use a spray air freshener, it is probably flammable and can catch fire.
Let’s take a closer look a air freshening products and their fire safety concerns. Here’s what you need to know.
Also read: What Makes Something Flammable?
Table of Contents
What Is Air Freshener?
There is no formal definition of exactly what constitutes an air freshener.
In general, the term applies to a wide range of consumer products that either emit a fragrance or a neutralizing agent to remove odors. They can be used pretty much anywhere and are as commonly deployed in businesses as they are in the home.
There are dozens of different brands and many different methods of air fresheners. You can find:
- Electric fan-based air fresheners
- Gravity drip systems
- Non-mechanical evaporating diffusers
- Timed aerosol delivery systems
- Air freshener sprays
As you can see, this makes it very difficult to say anything about air fresheners that will apply to every type of air freshener. This is why it’s important to check the packaging on any air freshener you buy and see what exactly it says about flammability.
It is always best to assume that a product is flammable unless it explicitly says otherwise. If it’s not flammable, it doesn’t hurt to treat it like it is. But if you treat a flammable product as though it won’t burn disaster can happen.
What’s absolutely true, however, is that any aerosol spray deodorant is highly likely to be flammable. The propellants used for these include butane and propane – both of these chemicals are extremely flammable and are very easy to set alight.
You should always use any aerosol away from any source of flame or electrical sparks. The aerosol can turn into a flame thrower and there may even be more severe consequences of the spray catching fire.
You can see what happens when aerosol air freshener is sprayed on a flame (DO NOT TRY THIS):
Are They Explosive?
There is no specific definition of air fresheners as explosive. However, as you might expect aerosol canisters are potentially explosive.
If the spray catches fire, there is a potential chance of the flame ending up inside the can where it will continue to burn. This causes the gases within the canister to expand and eventually, they will explode spraying shards of metal everywhere.
This can also happen if the canister is punctured (a spark can be generated from the act of puncturing which sets the contents alight) or if it is thrown onto a fire.
Take a look at a extreme example of a butane based aerosol explosion (DO NOT TRY THIS):
It’s always best to be careful with aerosol containers to use them away from sources of flame or spark, to store them (when not in use) in cool, dark places, and when you have finished with them to dispose of them safely.
Also read: Is Pepper Spray Flammable?
Is Febreze Flammable?
Febreze is a spray air freshener, but it is a spray that does not use a propellant. It works rather like one of those plastic mist spray bottles you might use to freshen up a plant with.
However, Febreze Fabric Refresher is flammable in concentrated form.
This shouldn’t present any issues though as it is not sold as an isolated concentrate, but rather in a diluted form. The water present in the diluted form, according to Proctor and Gamble (the company which owns the Febreze brand) is present in high enough quantities that any flames would be self-extinguishing.
Can They Cause A Car To Explode?
Is it possible? We have to concede that nearly anything is possible but is it likely? No.
While it might be possible to use an air freshener to set a car alight or to explode an air freshener spray inside a car – cars are designed not to explode.
We know that a generation of TV programs has led people to believe that cars explode very easily but, in reality, car companies like drivers and passengers to live long enough to buy more cars. To get a car to explode requires fracturing the gas tank and the tank is designed not to do this.
Are Plug In Air Fresheners Flammable?
Plug-in air refreshers can be flammable, depending on what they use as a propellant and the specific freshening chemicals used.
There are even stories of these plug-in type air fresheners causing house fires.
Watch this video for more information on the fire safety of these plug-ins:
Are Airwick Plugins A Fire Hazard?
The Airwick Plugins brand claims that their products are categorically not flammable and the company has released a statement to this effect to Insurance Chat.
It is still best to use caution when it comes to any air fresheners and fire.
Is It Safe To Leave Plug-Ins On Overnight?
Yes, in fact, plug-in air fresheners are pretty much designed to be left for longer periods of time.
But, you shouldn’t leave these air fresheners plugged in forever, either. Fire chiefs told the Daily Mail that if they are left plugged in for extended periods of time, they may eventually become so warm that they cause an electrical fire.