We’re all grateful for the existence of deodorant. In modern life, we all spend quite a bit of time in close proximity to our fellow man (and woman) and without deodorant, which might entail an unpleasant assault on each other’s nostrils. But should we be carefree about spraying ourselves with deodorant in the morning or is there a reason to be worried about the fire safety of deodorant?
Deodorant can be flammable but is not always. A standard aerosol spray deodorant is usually highly flammable. However, other forms of deodorant may not be a fire hazard at all
Deodorant is necessary and comes in a few different types. Let’s take a look at when there is a reason to be worried about deodorant and fire safety. Here’s what you need to know.
Your # 1 priority is keeping your family safe. As a firefighter, I recommend everyone has updated smoke detectors that don’t require battery changes, like these ones from Kidde, a fire extinguisher, like this one from Amerex, and a fire escape ladder if you have bedrooms above the first floor, I recommend this one from Hausse.
Also read: What Makes Something Flammable?
What Is Deodorant?
A deodorant, as opposed to an odorizing agent, is any substance that is applied to the human body to either prevent body odor or to mask it once it exists.
That odor will be caused by bacteria present in sweat deposits under the arms, groin, or other areas of the body.
Antiperspirants are often combined with deodorants to try and reduce the amount of sweat produced in the first place. Typically, this is done by temporarily clogging the pores of the skin making it impossible for the fluid to leave the body in the first place.
It’s fair to say that some people believe that this is bad for your health, but the evidence on this is still limited and unclear.
In the United States, you may buy deodorants freely from anywhere and they are not subject to regulation but if they contain an antiperspirant – they are classified as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication!
The first ever commercially produced deodorant was “Mum” (a brand that still exists today).
There is no standard formula for what makes a deodorant and while anti-perspirants tend to contain aluminum compounds that help to block the pores, they may contain other compounds too and there is a growing movement to make “aluminum-free” anti-perspirants.
It is worth noting that though deodorants and antiperspirants are regularly mentioned as causes of breast cancer, the evidence on this is still not conclusive.
Why Does It Catch Fire?
Not all deodorants do catch fire, but the traditional aerosol-based deodorant may be easy to catch on fire. This is not, necessarily, due to the fact that the deodorant itself is flammable, but because the propellant used in the aerosol will be a hydrocarbon.
Note: There are other chemicals that can be used that aren’t as flammable, such as nitrous oxide, but due to abuse potential, this is not common.
Hydrocarbons are petrol derivatives, and they are highly flammable. When they burn, they produce carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and water, and a large amount of smoke and heat.
If you’re wondering what this might look like, please don’t try and spray your own deodorant over a naked flame – you will be risking serious injury if you do.
You can watch this video of Roger Moore as James Bond tackling a snake with burning propellant.
If you really want to find out if your own deodorant is flammable. You can spray a small amount of small piece of cloth, place it outside somewhere that a fire can’t spread, and then light it with a lighter – if it burns instantly, it’s flammable.
If you are using a spray-on deodorant and it’s not specifically marked as “not flammable”, you should assume that it is.
Can It Cause An Explosion?
Yes, spray-on deodorants can explode. The flame that is created during spraying over a flame or which might be produced if the can is punctured and the propellant escapes and comes in contact with flame can be dragged back inside the can.
Then the gas in the can (as it burns) gets hot and expands and as it does so, it exerts pressure on the can and eventually it will tear it into shreds. That’s an explosion and because the can is made from metal – it’s going to be very dangerous to be near when it happens.
This is why you should never spray deodorant over a fire.
What About Stick Deodorant?
With no fixed formula for stick deodorants, it’s not possible to give a concrete “yes” or “no” to any given stick deodorant without examining the actual stick and its ingredients.
However, we would suggest that you assume that stick deodorant is flammable unless you’re able to prove otherwise.
Here’s an Old Spice Stick Deodorant burning away at an impressive rate:
Again, we can’t say for sure about every roll-on deodorant or antiperspirant, because there’s no standard formula, but we’d assume that it was flammable unless we could prove otherwise.
It didn’t take us long to find a flammable roll on when looking online.
Yet again, there will be exceptions but for the moment, we’d assume that solid deodorant was flammable unless we had proof otherwise.
It’s a solid deodorant used in stick deodorants, for example, and you’ve already seen that can burn easily.
Is It A Flammable Liquid?
Strictly speaking, a roll-on deodorant is a flammable liquid, but if you’re asking for your next flight, the TSA will treat spray deodorants as flammable liquids too.
A stick deodorant, on the other hand, is clearly not a flammable liquid but rather, a flammable solid.