From keeping Elvis Presley's hair in place throughout his concerts to women spraying it on their legs to stop their skirts from riding up, hair spray has been available in the beauty industry for years.
Thanks to the many purposes of hair spray, it’s popular worldwide. But is hair spray flammable? The answer to this question would inform consumers on proper use and handling to prevent accidents.
Is Hair Spray Flammable?
Yes, hair spray is flammable. The major component of the product is alcohol (50%–70%) which is highly flammable and will ignite or start a fire. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that a flammable substance will possess a flash point below 100°F. When the flash point is 100°F and above, it is instead considered combustible. The flash point of hair sprays is between 50°F–65°F.
What Is Hair Spray?
Hair spray is a popular cosmetic product that adds shine, texture, and volume to hair, all while keeping styles in place. Hair sprays became popular in the 1970s due to the popularity of updo styles.
Depending on the individual composition, hair spray can also help moisturize and condition hair to reduce dryness and frizz. Most hair sprays come in aerosol canisters that dispense fine mist of the product.
What Are The Major Components Of Hair Sprays?
Hair sprays usually comprise water, emulsifiers, polymers, conditioning agents, propellants, silicone, fragrances, preservatives, and essential oils. These ingredients' mixture and percentage composition vary from manufacturer to manufacturer to achieve the desired properties like adhesive strength, consistency, foaming, and more.
Water is a solvent usually replaced with alcohol by hair spray manufacturers, and this answers the question: why is hair spray flammable? Emulsifiers help bind the other components together, silicones prevent your hair from looking greasy because of the emulsifiers, fragrances keep your hair smelling nice, and conditioning agents reduce hair frizz and dryness.
The propellants used for hair sprays are usually pressurized and liquefied gases that force the contents out of the canister as a mist. In the 1980s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the most common propellants, chlorofluorocarbons, and vinyl chloride, due to their negative environmental impact. Today, most manufacturers use isobutane, butane, and propane as propellants.
Is Hair Spray A Fire Hazard?
Yes, it is. Due to the high flammability, manufacturers even have warning labels with pictograms instructing consumers on their use. You should keep hair sprays away from open flame, hot surfaces, and other ignition sources.
A common solvent used in hair spray composition is alcohol. And just like gasoline, alcohol is very flammable. As a result, there have been reports of hair catching fire in salons after using hair spray and dryers. And because it is hard to put out, it can cause significant fire accidents.
What Is A Hair Spray's Flash Point?
A flash point is the lowest temperature a substance needs to reach to burn with the help of an ignition source and keep burning even after the source is removed. It is a measurement that describes how easily a substance will catch fire.
If a substance has a flashpoint under 100°F, it's considered flammable. But if it's above 100°F, it is considered combustible. So, for example, the flash point of hair spray is between 50°F - 65°F (below 100°F); therefore, it's flammable.
How Do I Put Out A Fire From Hair Sprays?
Hair sprays can have alcohol compositions up to 75%, increasing the likelihood of spreading fire. Also, due to substances like emulsifiers, water wouldn't be the best medium for extinguishing a hair spray fire. Instead, you could use extinguishing powder, sand, chemical foam, carbon dioxide, and dry chemicals to extinguish the fire. But, if it spreads beyond your control, contact the fire department immediately.
Is Hair Spray Toxic?
Your hair spray is toxic when inhaled, ingested, or in contact with eyes and mucous membranes, such as the inner lining of your nostrils. It can cause respiratory problems, abdominal pain, and eye and skin irritation. In addition, it contains denatured alcohols, hydrofluorocarbon, and polyvinyl compounds, all of which are harmful to your health.
Safety Precautions For Handling Hair Spray
Take these steps to ensure your safety, as well as anyone else working with hair spray.
Store Your Hair Spray Properly
Store the hair spray in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place away from sunlight or temperatures above 45°F. Ensure the container is tightly closed after use and stashed away from children to avoid accidental eye contact, inhalation, or ingestion of hair spray.
Keep Your Hair Spray Away From Open Flames Or Fire
Ensure the area is well-ventilated, and avoid smoking or handling open flames when using hair spray. Other heat sources that could start a fire with hair spray include radiators, heaters, and electrical sparks.
Ensure Proper Disposal
Aerosol cans are pressurized, and you should avoid puncturing or crushing them as this can lead to an explosion of content. Don't toss it in the trash or an incinerator, either. The first step to properly dispose of your hair spray is to ensure it's empty because disposing of an aerosol can with content can be very dangerous.
Suppose you use non-aerosol hair sprays, such as pump sprays that do not contain propellants. In that case, the container usually comes with instructions for proper disposal. If you need clarification on their recycling procedure, visit the nearest recycling center.
Both men and women use hair spray, and if you use them often, this post provides a detailed answer to the question: is hair spray flammable? Hair sprays are flammable, although to a different degree depending on manufacturer composition. It's essential to check your products' details to ensure proper and safe handling.