Hair conditioners serve many purposes. Apart from detangling hair and reducing frizz, it can also help you slip off tight jewelry or smooth fabric. But, is hair conditioner flammable? The answer to this question helps you safely handle your hair conditioner and avoid potential hazards.
Whether you use your conditioner as a shaving cream or as a makeup remover (which I wouldn't advise you do), this post will answer this question. We’ll also outline the major ingredients in your hair conditioner and talk about its flash point, proper disposal methods, and safety precautions for handling.
Is Hair Conditioner Flammable?
No, hair conditioner is not flammable. A substance must be easily ignited when exposed to an open flame to be considered flammable. Hair conditioners will burn and give off gases but won't catch fire. The primary ingredient of hair conditioner is water, making it difficult for the substance to ignite and burn.
What Is Hair Conditioner?
Hair conditioners are cosmetic products with a creamy consistency that improves the texture of your hair. They also remove frizz, deliver moisture, and improve hair health. Conditioners also help with easy manageability. It is usually the next step in your hair care routine after you've cleaned your hair of sweat and dirt with shampoo.
Hair conditioners can be wash-out, leave-in, mask, or deep conditioning. Each has a specific purpose depending on the state of your hair. Still, they all have the primary function of delivering hydration to hair, reducing frizz, and leaving your hair smooth and silky. In this post, we will be talking about wash-out conditioners.
What Are The Major Components Of Hair Conditioners?
There isn't a universal hair conditioner recipe because composition and ingredient lists vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. That said, the base components usually have the same group of ingredients. These major ingredients are humectants, emollients, cationic surfactants, preservatives, and acidifiers, all mixed into the water base.
The key ingredient of hair conditioners is water, which is the base ingredient. As water extinguishes fire, it certainly doesn’t help the conditioner catch fire. Humectants act as moisturizers for dry hair by stealing moisture from the atmosphere and binding it to your hair. Emollients, usually fat and oils, lock this moisture into your hair so it doesn't dry out easily.
Cationic surfactants are the powerhouse ingredients of a hair conditioner. They bind to the negatively charged hair strands, making each strand silky. The preservatives help reduce antimicrobial activity and spoilage in the hair product. The acidifiers create an acidic solution, the ideal functional pH of hair products.
Is Hair Conditioner A Fire Hazard?
Generally speaking, hair conditioners aren't considered fire hazards as they do not catch fire. However, there are exceptions depending on the type of conditioner in your possession. For example, cheap conditioners often have combustible substances like alcohol. This increases their flammability.
Leave-in conditioners differ greatly from wash-out conditioners and may contain flammable substances. Fire hazards are substances or materials that significantly increase the likelihood of a fire accident. And for a substance to be considered a fire hazard, it must meet some criteria, the most important being high flammability.
Hair conditioners aren't considered highly or even flammable. Its major components are water, humectant, and moisturizers, which are not flammable. So hair conditioners aren't considered fire hazards but can be regarded as health and environmental hazards.
You should never purposely put hair conditioner on fire as it might still catch fire – especially if it's a cheap product. In addition, burning conditioner releases toxic fumes, which is a health hazard and a cause of pollution.
What Is A Hair Conditioner's Flash Point?
The flash point represents the lowest temperature a liquid must attain to ignite and continue burning even after removing the igneous source. And as a typical hair conditioner doesn't ignite when exposed to an open flame, it has no flash point. Though, a flash point might exist in cheap conditioners with flammable ingredients.
What Happens When Your Hair Conditioner Gets Too Hot?
Suppose you heat hair conditioners, like every liquid. In that case, they will boil at temperatures around 212°F and begin evaporating and releasing gases as the components are broken down. Liquids can and will evaporate even before their boiling points have been reached.
A good example is a pot of boiling water that starts releasing steam before it boils. And because evaporation can occur at any temperature, exposing the product to the open can cause it to release toxic fumes.
These fumes can contain sulfur, carbon monoxide, and phosphorus oxides, even without burning or boiling. This is why proper storage is essential.
Can Hair Conditioners Help Extinguish A Fire?
No, hair conditioners won't help extinguish a fire. The idea that because your hair conditioner won't catch or spread fire, you can use it to extinguish them is wrong. It's easy to fall prey to this error, thinking hair conditioners are fire-resisting. Still, extinguishers are supposed to reduce fires, and hair conditioners won't do the job.
Moreover, throwing in a cheap hair conditioner will often increase the fire. It might contain flammable ingredients like propanol and isopropyl alcohol, which are sometimes used as emollients. And the hair conditioner itself will burn and release toxic fumes.
How Do I Put Out A Fire From Cheap Hair Conditioners?
Suppose your hair conditioner starts a fire for whatever reason. In that case, you can put out the fire with any extinguishing agent. These extinguishing agents include water, dry chemicals, carbon dioxide, chemical foam, and sand.
Suppose the fire contains a mixture of other flammable substances – it could spread easily and be hard to put out with your extinguisher. In this case, call the fire department and leave the burning area while waiting for the professionals to arrive.
Find a well-ventilated area if you have inhaled the burning fumes. Seek medical attention immediately if eye, skin, or airway irritation occurs.
Is Hair Conditioner Corrosive?
Generally, hair conditioners aren't considered corrosive substances. Your hair has a pH between 4 and 5. The more acidic it is, the softer and silkier it'll be. Acids tighten up the outer layer of your hair follicles, also known as cuticles, by strengthening keratin bonds.
This is why most hair care products have their pH on the acidic side of the scale. Hair conditioner manufacturers use acidifiers as pH regulators that get the product to an acidic state which is optimal for its function. The pH of a good hair conditioner is usually around 6.
Although that's acidic, it's closer to neutral than acidic, so the possibility of corrosion is lowered. Also, most manufacturers use corrosion inhibitors in their products to eliminate the corrosivity of the hair conditioner.
Safety Precautions For Handling Hair Conditioner
Take these steps to ensure your safety, as well as anyone else working with hair conditioner.
Keep Your Hair Conditioners Away From Open Flames Or Fire
We've discussed how hair conditioners won't heat up and ignite at high temperatures. But even though it won't ignite, it'll decompose and release toxic fumes. Store away from acids, combustible materials, open flames, and sparks.
Properly Label And Store Your Hair Conditioner
Keep the product in closed containers, especially when not in use. If you wish to transfer the product, ensure the new container is appropriately labeled. Store it away from cooking areas, children, and pets. Keeping your conditioner away from children and pets prevents accidental ingestion, which can lead to health complications.
Don't Mix Your Hair Conditioners
Sometimes you could have two conditioners down to the bottom, and combining them could give you one extra wash. Avoid these experiments unless they are for science and you are wearing protective gear.
As conditioner's ingredients differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, combining two different products will most likely produce a chemical reaction. It could make the product more reactive and flammable, giving off toxic gases and rendering both products useless, thereby leading to hair damage.
How To Properly Dispose Of Your Expired Conditioner
Hair conditioners are considered household, health, and environmental hazards and must be disposed of properly. The average hair conditioners expire three to four years after production and have a shelf life of 1–2 years after opening.
Most products don't make it up to their expiration date due to improper storage and decomposition of components.
Suppose you notice a change in your hair conditioner's smell, color, or consistency; it's probably time to replace it. The disposal of this product is simple. You can drop it off at your local disposal center, or it can also be diluted and dumped down the drain.
As the everyday use of this product will end up with you washing it down the drain anyway, this is safe to do. The products contain detergents that meet the biodegradation requirements and would be broken down.
We've answered the question: is hair conditioner flammable? And although it's not flammable because flammable substances take minimal effort to ignite, it is a source of pollution, and you should avoid trying to set it on fire.