Essential oils are incredibly popular for their sweet and sense-tingling scents. They are often used for aromatherapy or therapeutic applications as they can be very soothing, calming and relaxing.
You can add essential oils to baths, candles, or mix with water and spray around the room for a fresh scent in your home.
Many people prefer to use an oil diffuser to really get the most smell out of an essential oil, but others will also add a few drops into some candles. This poses the question as to whether essential oils are flammable, whether they catch fire easily and whether they are dangerous.
Our guide will answer all of these questions for you, to help you understand whether this ‘natural therapy’ actually poses a great risk in your home. So, what exactly are essential oils?
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are actually plant extracts that have different health benefits and properties. Essential oils are often obtained through distillation, or cold pressing.
Once the aromatic qualities of the plants have been extracted, they can be combined with a carrier oil to create an essential oil ready for use.
To make an essential oil, you will first need the plant extract. This extract can be so strong and powerful that it has to be diluted with a carrier oil, as mentioned above.
Some of the most common carrier oils used are olive oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, rosehip oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, black seed oil and sweet almond oil. In some cases, you can purchase the extract of the plant, and then mix with a carrier oil yourself.
Essential oils can then be inhaled, sprayed or in some cases applied to the skin in order to boost the mood, relieve stress or calm nerves. The great thing about these oils is that they all have their own unique scents and properties.
For instance, jasmine has been known to aid with depression, whereas teatree fights infections and boosts immunity. On the other hand, sandalwood is good for calming nerves and helping you focus, whereas lavender relieves stress and anxieties.
So, it is clear why so many people love using essential oils in their everyday lives. But, are these oils dangerous, and are they flammable?
Are essential oils flammable?
Yes, essential oils are highly flammable. They can very easily catch fire as they have flashpoints from about 100 degrees fahrenheit to 215 degrees fahrenheit.
Flashpoints are the temperatures that a liquid can give off enough vapors in order to ignite when in the presence of a spark or flame. Therefore, the flashpoints of these oils naturally classify essential oils as flammable.
This means that they can also be a fire hazard if not stored, handled, transported or used properly.
Which essential oils are flammable?
It is vital that you remember that almost all essential oils are flammable, even those that have flashpoints above the ‘flammable classification’ can still catch fire very easily.
Some essential oils like sandalwood and clove bud are not always classified as very flammable, but can still pose a fire risk.
However, there are essential oils which are naturally more flammable than others. Some of the most flammable essential oils are tea tree, citrus oils like lemon, orange and bergamot, along with eucalyptus, rosemary, frankincense, pine needle, cypress and juniper berry.
That being said, it is advised that all essential oils must be kept in a tightly sealed container, in a cool dark place, and kept away from naked flames or sparks.
This will reduce the risk of auto ignition from the sunlight against the glass bottle, and therefore pose much less of a risk of catching fire.
Due to their high flammability, essential oils also have to be cleaned up properly after a spillage as the oil can dry on certain surfaces, or stay on the rag or cloth that you used to clean it up. This is why you will want to use an absorbent non flammable powder to clean up essential oil spills.
Should you burn or diffuse essential oils?
Keeping in mind that essential oils are very flammable, it is not a good idea to burn essential oils in order to use them. Burning an essential oil is a fire hazard, as the oil can come into contact with the flame very easily and ignite quickly.
In addition, you are probably only using essential oils to get the benefits out of them, and burning them is not the best way to do this.
By burning an essential oil, you are actually damaging the chemical ingredients in the oil itself, and will most likely not be able to benefit from them at all.
Therefore, it is recommended that you use an oil diffuser instead, as this will pose no fire risk, and you will be able to smell, inhale and enjoy all of the natural properties of the oil.
Can essential oils spontaneously combust?
Technically, essential oils can spontaneously combust as they can be prone to auto-ignitions when kept in direct sunlight, or other heat sources such as fires, flames and sparks. Whilst essential oils do not often ignite whilst sitting in the bottle, it can happen.
This is why it is vital that you keep your essential oils in a cool dark place, away from any sparks, possible ignition sources, and away from sunlight.
What is the flashpoint of essential oils?
The flashpoint of essential oils is about 100 to 215 degrees fahrenheit. This means that for most essential oils, the flashpoint is around 140 degrees fahrenheit, and is therefore classified as a Class 3 flammable liquid, making it a fire risk.
Can essential oils be put in a fire?
Absolutely not! Essential oils should never be used or put on an open flame or a lit fire, as this would be the same as adding fuel to a fire.
If you try to add essential oils to an open flame, it is highly likely to ignite the flames further, which can cause injury and become highly dangerous and out of control.
However, if you want to add a few drops of essential oils to an extinguished fire, to remove the scent of smoke, ash and burned wood, you can. Just make sure that the flames are out, and have been for a long time so that there is no risk of ignition.
Can essential oils start a fire in a dryer?
If you are planning on adding a few drops of essential oils to your clothes in the dryer, then don’t! Essential oils can catch fire in the high temperatures of a dryer.
Obviously you would not put the bottle in or lots of essential oils but you should be careful putting something in that has been used to wipe up essential oil spills as this can still have the oil on them, and can ignite quickly.
Therefore, using essential oils in the dryer is a potential fire hazard, and poses a risk to your home.
Are fragrance oils as flammable as essential oils?
No, fragrance oils are not as flammable as essential oils as they have a higher flashpoint of around 170 degrees fahrenheit. That being said, you should still exercise caution as they are still considered flammable liquids, and can pose a risk to fire safety.