ALL NEWS

FACT CHECK: Can hand sanitizer catch fire in your car?

May 22, 2020, 8:38 AM
hand sanitizer car fire...
Can leaving your hand sanitizer in a hot car cause it to catch fire? Getty Images

Can leaving a bottle of hand sanitizer in a hot car cause it to catch fire? Well, the short answer is yes, but it’s unlikely.

Photos of a burned-out car door have been circulating on the internet, with the caution that leaving a bottle of alcohol-based gel in the car could lead to a fire. 

The Western Lakes Fire district posted this image on Facebook, saying that because hand sanitizer is alcohol-based, if sunlight refracts through the clear bottle in the right way, it could cause the gel to ignite. 

 

 

“By its nature, most hand sanitizer is alcohol-based and therefore flammable. Keeping it in your car during hot weather, exposing it to sun causing magnification of light through the bottle,
—-and particularly being next to open flame while smoking in vehicles or grilling while enjoying this weekend—-can lead to disaster.

Please respect the possibilities and be fire safe,” they wrote.

It’s unclear where the photo was originally shared from, but fact-checking website Poynter says that the stories were originally shared in Thailand. 

According to Poynter, Brazilian fact-checkers found that it would take temperatures in excess of 570 degrees for hand sanitizer to spontaneously combust, well above the recorded temperatures registered inside most cars parked in the summer heat. 

National Fire Protection Association

 

The nonprofit National Fire Protection Association which provides training and standards for firefighters says that hand sanitizer can be a dangerous material.

With the makeup of most alcohol-based hand sanitizers being made up of 70% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, the flashpoint is only around 63 or 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

Guy Colonna, the director of NFPA’s engineering technical services says that puts the flashpoint at basically room temperature. That means that no more added heat is needed for those flammable vapors to be given off.

“Once those vapors concentrated in those right proportions of fuel vapors with the oxygen in the air, then the only thing that’s missing in order to make them ignitable is a viable ignition source.”

That’s why shipments or storage of more than 5 gallons of hand sanitizer are regulated.

Should you be worried about hand sanitizer starting a car fire?

No, experts say.

While there is a slight chance that the sun could refract through a clear bottle of hand sanitizer, much like the way paper can be burned with a magnifying glass, those chances aren’t very great.

 

 

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Shoppers wait in line outside a retail warehouse as people rush to prepare for Tropical Storm Ian, ...
Holly Yan and Nouran Salahieh, CNN

Hurricane Ian could be ‘something that we haven’t seen in our lifetime,’ Tampa forecaster says

While Ian is forecast to become a "major hurricane" based on wind speeds, storm surges can be even deadlier than the winds, said Michael Brennan, acting deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
11 hours ago
Image of the semi-truck that broke through the concrete barrier and rolled into the embankment (Pho...
Chandler Holt

Semi driver dies after driving off side of roadway

A semi drove off the right side of the road, breaking through the concrete barrier, on US-6 at milepost 185 in Spanish Fork canyon.
11 hours ago
The White House to ask for less money to fund border wall...
ACACIA CORONADO and GISELA SALOMON Associated Press

Increase in Venezuelan migration is felt across US

Dave and Dujanovic discuss the causes of immigration and are joined by U of U political science professor. Listen live at 10:05 EAGLE PASS, Texas (AP) — It cost Nerio two months and everything he had to get from Venezuela to the U.S., traveling mainly by foot and watching as exhausted fellow migrants were assaulted […]
11 hours ago
Apartments for rent in Sugar House on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)...
Kate Davis, Amie Schaeffer

Utah rental prices continue to soar

The cost of renting has skyrocketed in Utah. The price to rent in the state increased more in the past two years more over the two last years than they did in the decade prior.
11 hours ago
A Bluffdale crash between that involved a semi-truck left one person dead on Monday, Sept. 26.  (St...
Amie Schaeffer

Bluffdale crash involving semi-truck kills one

One person has died in an accident in Bluffdale. The crash involved a semi-truck and happened early Monday morning.
11 hours ago
Police SUV...
Amie Schaeffer

Woman dies in SLC shooting, suspect arrested

A shooting in Salt Lake City on Sunday killed a woman. Authorities are looking into the possibility this is a domestic-related homicide.
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
FACT CHECK: Can hand sanitizer catch fire in your car?