To understand the flammability of fuels and other materials, you need to understand flash point. A flash point is the lowest temperature at which a liquid can form vapors and ignite in the air. The difference between liquids that are classified as “combustible” and “flammable” is the ease with which the substance ignites, burns, and supports burning.
Here are the new general definitions of combustible and flammable liquids, using the new Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.
Flash point 140–200° F
- Linseed oil
- Mineral oil
- Oil-based paints
- Vegetable oil
Flash point 0-140° F
- Nail polish removers
- Paint thinner
- Rubber cement
You should always refer to the storage guidelines on the safety data sheet (SDS) for the specific chemical with which you are working. In general, Oregon OSHA offers the following recommendations.
- Don’t store flammables and combustibles with oxidizing agents, corrosive chemicals, or other materials susceptible to spontaneous heating or explosions. Examples include nitrates, peroxides, and sulfuric acid.
- Avoid storing flammables in direct sunlight or near other heat sources.
- Eliminate all sources of ignition.
- Keep the area dry and clear.
- Use explosion-proof refrigerators designed for chemical storage when chemicals require extra cool temperatures.
- Provide adequate ventilation as defined by Oregon OSHA rules and your local fire codes.
- Use proper labeling as defined by Oregon #OSHA rules.
Additional online resources:
SAIF’s safety topics
OSHA’s guide to the classification of chemicals.
This article is from the fall 2012 issue of Comp News. See other articles from this publication.