Will hand sanitizer explode if left in a hot car?

STATEN ISLAND, NY – That little bottle of hand sanitizer you carry may help protect you from coronavirus (COVID-19), but could it explode in your car?

This question has been the focus of debate in recent days, after a Wisconsin fire department posted a photo of a burnt out car alongside a caption that appeared to indicate hand sanitizer was the main culprit in the fire.

“By its nature, most hand sanitizers are alcohol-based and therefore flammable,” the Western Lakes Fire District published Thursday. “Keeping it in your car in hot weather, exposing it to the sun causing the light to magnify through the bottle – and especially being next to an open flame while smoking in vehicles or grilling while enjoying. this weekend – can lead to disaster. “

As the message began to circulate like wildfire on the web, popular fact-checking sites like Snopes began to investigate the allegation, finding that even though the hand sanitizer is flammable, it would take an amount. excessive heat to spontaneously ignite – and has not been found to be the cause of any vehicle fire.


“A number of experts have also weighed in to say that although hand sanitizer contains alcohol and is flammable, it would require an enormous amount of heat for spontaneous combustion. While this type of fire is technically possible (more on this later), we have yet to see any official reports of a car fire starting this way ”, according to Snopes.

To spontaneously ignite, the interior of a car would need to reach over 700 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The Western Lakes Fire District has since went back to his original message, claiming that it had been misinterpreted by the general public and had never made a direct connection between the photo of the burnt car and the explosion of hand sanitizer.

“While we never claimed that the photo used was from our district or from an explosive container of hand sanitizer, it became clear that this inference and speculation made it appear to be.” , according to firefighters.

The department said it was simply trying to warn residents that unattended clear bottles can cause car fires in certain situations.

“Our post was intended to focus on preventing fires or injuries from the use of hand sanitizer. He also looked at the history of problems related to the storage of transparent bottles in vehicles. These bottles usually store bottled or newer water; hand sanitizer. Although rare, there have been instances in the recent past where reflected light placed through a clear bottle may have focused on a combustible surface and caused a fire, ”the department wrote.

The Western Lakes Fire District has since apologized for any confusion resulting from the posting.

“We just want our customers to be happy, healthy and healthy, and most importantly, enjoy the time they spend with family and friends. Our message was quickly misinterpreted and we wanted to make sure we got it right, ”the fire department wrote.

About Christopher Easley

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