One of the most commonly used health products in the world is Chapstick. It’s made from a waxy substance and a few other compounds and simply provides a layer of protection for your lips to stop them from drying out in cold weather or, indeed, in very hot, dry conditions too. But should we be smearing this product all over our faces? Is it possible that this product is prone to catching fire?
Chapstick will catch fire, but it doesn’t burn as easily as many people seem to believe. Though petroleum-based lip balm products can even be used to start a fire, they may not meet the technical definition to be called “flammable.”
You still need to be careful with these products around fire. Let’s take a look at why and just how easily they can catch fire.
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Also read: What Makes Something Flammable?
What Is Lip Balm?
Lip Balm, of which Chapstick is just one form, is a wax-like substance. You smear it all over you lips and it’s meant to moisturize lips that have been “chapped,” or which are dry. It may also help protect lips that are suffering from conditions such as cold sores or stomatitis.
While most people believe that lip balm is made of petroleum jelly (mainly because it used to be) and the brand Chapstick was. It can be made out of nearly any kind of waxy substance and paraffin, carnauba, camphor, cetyl alcohol, lanolin and even bees wax are viable chemicals to make a lip balm out of.
That means determining the “flammability” of lip balm is somewhat challenging because each product is different.
As you may be aware petrol burns better than beeswax, for example. But does this make much of a difference when using lip balm and should we be concerned?
Also read: Is Air Freshener Flammable? Sometimes…
Let’s take a look at a few different brands to find out.
Are They Flammable?
The formula for Chapstick was invented by Charles Brown Fleet in the 1880s, but it wasn’t a success until 1912 when John Morton bought the rights for just $5 (which was a lot of money back then, mind you) and began to make it into sticks.
It wasn’t made of petroleum jelly, but Chapstick did introduce a petroleum jelly variant in the 1980s that many people associate strongly with the name “Chapstick”.
Today, Chapstick makes many different products, and they use a number of different formulas. But they all have one thing in common.
They can almost all catch fire, but they aren’t super flammable.
That’s not to say that they won’t burn. Petroleum jelly, for example, can be used to help light a fire. You take a petroleum jelly Chapstick, you smear it all over the end of a Q-tip then you set fire to it and you use the Q-tip to move the flame over kindling or paper to light a bigger fire.
Chapstick can actually be used to help start fires (along with some other unknown uses), take a look here:
However, the lighter that you use to set fire to the petroleum jelly is hotter than 199.4 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s only things that burn below that temperature that are flammable, according to OSHA.
But that technical definition doesn’t matter to most people. Just know that some types of lip balm can certainly catch fire.
Also, you won’t find that the petroleum jelly catches fire immediately, you will need to hold it in a flame for several seconds before it ignites.
Thus, if you wanted to burn the Chapstick on your face, you’d have to hold your lip in a lighter flame for several seconds, nobody does that voluntarily, and thus, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to using Chapstick.
Also read: Is Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly) Flammable?
So, is lip balm flammable? It will depend on what the lip balm is made from. Petroleum based lip balms will tend to be more flammable.
You can even use it to start a fire, even if it doesn’t meet the industry technical definition for flammability.
This is good news, of course, because it means it’s a relatively safe product to use on your face.
Also read: Is Nail Polish Flammable?
Carmex Lip Balm
The Carmex Lip Balm formula was invented in the 1930s, in Carma Laboratories. It wasn’t put into stick form until the 1980s, however. But when it was it seized nearly 10% of the market by the early 1990s!
The formula contains many different ingredients including paraffin wax and beeswax. However, as with Chapstick, these products can certainly catch fire but are not technically flammable, and thus, Carmex Lip Balm is not flammable.
Burt’s Bees Lip Balm
As the name suggests, Burt’s Bees Lip Balm is made, mainly from beeswax, and their products came to market in the 1990s and have become hugely popular worldwide.
But is Burt’s Bees Lip Balm Flammable? It can certainly catch fire, but I suspect that its probably less likely to catch fire than some other types of lip balm (petroleum-based).
Beeswax can be used in candles because it doesn’t burn that well (though paraffin wax is preferred in most candles because it’s cheaper and wicks better).
What About Lip Gloss?
Lip gloss, when it is wet, may be flammable.
You can see it burn in the video below:
However, once it has dried on your lips, it doesn’t present any kind of fire risk. So, apply it away from naked flames and electrical sparks and keep it in a cool, dry, dark place and you’ll be find with lip gloss.
Is Lipstick A Fire Hazard?
Some lipsticks are combustible and can catch fire. They are typically made with petroleum based products (hydrocarbons) and can be flammable.
It is good to know the fire safety of the products you use, but lipstick does not generally present a serious fire hazard, when used properly.