If there’s one thing that pretty much every household, office, and work setting will have laying around, it’s tape. We use tape for a myriad of different applications from holding electrical cables together to putting the finishing touches to wrapping a present. But that leaves us with a burning (excuse the pun) question, is tape flammable and will it pose a serious fire risk in the home?
Tape can be flammable but is not always. It will depend on the type of tape and what it is made from.
We use tape all the time and we should be aware of how they might behave when exposed to heat. So, let’s take a look at each type of commonly used tape and find out which are fire hazards and how to handle them.
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Also read: What Makes Something Flammable?
Duct tape is flammable and catch easily catch fire.
It is often mispronounced as “duck tape” and occasionally known, by some, as gaffer tape.
The makers of Gaffer tape are clear about this, though we found other sources online that claim duct tape isn’t flammable – they say it is. As they would have no incentive to mislead on this, we can take their word for it.
Duct tape is, however, heat resistant though once again, extremes of heat over time may cause damage to the adhesive properties of the glue and, in this case, they might also affect the strength of the tape itself.
Given that duct tape is very cheap – it’s best to replace it whenever you’re in doubt.
Is electrical tape flammable? No. It’s not. The rubber that electrical tape is made from can handle temperatures of up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit before it starts to melt. It can still burn at higher temperatures though.
That doesn’t mean that we should be blasé about electrical tape and heat, however. While the tape may not be flammable, there’s a good chance that the adhesive on the tape will be negatively affected by heat and though it won’t catch fire, it may lose its adhesive properties.
The adhesive bond can be permanently damaged by too much heat and if you think the tape is getting weaker, you should replace it.
Scotch tape is not considered to be flammable.
In fact, assuming that you are using genuine ScotchTM brand tape, they are engineered to be flame resistant.
We can’t speak for other brands of this kind of tape, mind you, and it’s best to be safe and err on the side of caution and assume that it is flammable if it doesn’t say on the packaging.
If it gets too hot, though, it will melt, and the adhesive will fail.
So, while we’ve seen a few people say that you could use Scotch Tape to extinguish a flame (due to the flame resistance), we wouldn’t recommend that you try it at home.
It’s best to use a fire extinguisher or other tried and tested extinguishing method instead.
Masking Tape/Painters Tape
Masking tape or “painter’s tape” is made of paper laid over a pressure sensitive adhesive. The idea is that you can quickly stick it down to prevent paint spills onto furniture, floors, etc. and then once you’ve finished painting – you can remove it equally as easily.
But is masking tape flammable?
Industrial strength masking tape is thicker and often the paper is replaced with a plastic substitute and this probably won’t burn easily, though we can’t find any hard and fast data on this. A silicon-based adhesive masking tape might be used in temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, though it can still catch fire at some point.
Home use masking tape is however made of weak paper and backed with an adhesive and as you’d expect from paper – it burns when it comes into contact with a naked flame. It might take slightly longer than ordinary paper (due to the water content in the adhesive) but once the adhesive dries it will catch fire without a problem.
Is gorilla tape flammable? No. The safety data sheet is very clear on this. In fact, it’s not flammable and it doesn’t react with anything chemically either.
That’s because gorilla tape is designed to stick to things that ordinary tape doesn’t have a hope of sticking to. It’s a form of rubber with a super strength thick layer of adhesive on it and you can use it to connect things like bricks or wood.
Of course, at high enough temperatures, everything burns, but gorilla tape is very unlikely to do so unless the rest of the environment it’s used in is already on fire.
Packing tape isn’t flammable but that doesn’t mean that it won’t catch on fire.
It won’t catch fire in normal use circumstances, and you should feel free to use it over LED lighting, for example, without worrying it will burst into flame. But we wouldn’t recommend that you try and light it over a gas burner in your kitchen, either.
Packaging tape is not a fire hazard, however, and most forms of tape (as long as you keep them away from fires) aren’t fire hazards either.