Shampoo is a pretty multipurpose product and can be used for defogging mirrors, fixing zips, manicuring, and loosening bolts or nuts. But the most common use of shampoo is, of course, washing your hair.
So this post is for you if you’ve ever stood in the shower and wondered, ‘Is shampoo flammable?’ We will also highlight important notes for consumer safety and proper product handling.
Is Shampoo Flammable?
No, shampoo is not flammable. Shampoos possess high water content, and due to some component compounds, they may burn and give off gases – but they won't catch fire. For a substance to be considered flammable, it must ignite easily. It should also burn even with the removal of the ignition source, and shampoo doesn't meet these requirements.
What Is A Shampoo?
Shampoo is a hair care or cosmetic product containing detergent that helps remove oil, sebum, sweat, dead scalp cells, and other forms of dirt from the hair and scalp. It comes in multiple forms, including foamy, creamy, and latherless variants.
What Are The Major Components of Shampoos?
Shampoo contains up to 70%–80% water in its deionized form (removal of ions from water), which acts as its major solvent. In addition, it contains surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which traps oils and breaks them down for an easy wash-off.
It also contains conditioning agents that reduce the stripping effects of the surfactants and supply moisture and hydration to the hair. Preservatives are also used to reduce microbial activity and increase shelf life. Other additives include fragrances, dyes, and foam boosters.
Is Shampoo A Fire Hazard?
Generally speaking, based on the hydrocarbon content of shampoos, they are supposed to ignite and burn very well. However, one major shampoo component is water, making it impossible to ignite.
But this could be untrue for cheap shampoo manufactured with substandard ingredients and dry shampoo, which comes in aerosol canisters.
What Is Dry Shampoo, And How Flammable Is It?
Dry shampoo is a type of latherless shampoo that comes in powder, liquid, and spray forms. Most dry shampoos come in spray forms which are dispensed from aerosol canisters.
These dry shampoos are used to clean and style hair and give a more voluminous and less greasy look to hair. A significant component of dry shampoos is propellants, which use pressurized and liquefied gases to deliver the product in the form of mists.
After the ban of the first set of propellants (chlorofluorocarbons and vinyl chloride), because they harm the environment, new propellants were introduced (isobutane, butane, and propane), which are safer but very flammable. As a result, dry shampoo is flammable, and you should keep it away from open flames and heated surfaces.
What Is Shampoo's Flash Point?
The flash point of any substance is the lowest temperature it must attain to ignite and burn following the removal of the igneous source. For example, the flash point of flammable substances like gasoline is below 100°F.
Because a typical shampoo won't ignite or burn, it has no flash point. However, a flash point will exist in dry shampoo and shampoos with substituted flammable ingredients.
What Happens When Your Shampoo Gets Too Hot?
It's not advisable to heat shampoo because when shampoo is heated, the compounds are degraded into toxic forms. Similarly to most liquids, when heat is applied, it will start decomposing to release gases or vapor even before boiling.
Typically, your shampoo will boil at temperatures around 212°F, and contrary to popular belief, liquids will readily evaporate without boiling. This is why a pot of water on a stove will release steam before it starts boiling.
Evaporation takes place on the surface and can occur at any temperature. So although it wouldn’t ignite or actively burn, it will release toxic fumes that are health hazards.
Can Shampoos Help Extinguish A Fire?
Shampoos won't extinguish the fire because fire-resisting doesn't mean fire-extinguishing. Suppose the shampoo is cheap and contains flammable ingredients – it will only fuel the fire. And if you tried using dry shampoo, it would likely cause the can to explode.
Fire extinguishers have been formulated to curb fire while reducing the environmental and health damages to the barest minimum. Besides not extinguishing the fire, shampoos will release harmful fumes when heated, so they won't do the job of extinguishing and will cause more harm.
How Do I Put Out A Fire From Cheap Shampoos And Dry Shampoo?
If a cheap or substandard shampoo causes a fire, it should be put out with proper extinguishing agents. These agents are water, sand, carbon dioxide, dry chemicals, and chemical foam. If you notice the fire is spreading beyond your control, call the fire department so that the professionals can handle it.
For dry shampoos, if you sprayed the content on the ignition source before extinguishing the fire, you must remove the aerosol canister from the area immediately to prevent an explosion. If the burning fumes or smoke is inhaled, locate a well-ventilated area and seek medical attention immediately if any irritation occurs.
Is Shampoo Corrosive?
Shampoos aren’t corrosive, and it’s easy to think they would be corrosive due to their pH. The corrosivity of a substance describes how destructive it is or its ability to eat away and corrode materials. The acidity or alkalinity of the substance usually measures its corrosivity. This is measured by a standard pH scale of 0-14.
On the pH scale, 7 is the neutral midpoint. Any number less than 7 is acidic; the closer it is to 0, the more acidic it is. The same applies vice versa; numbers greater than 7 are alkaline, and the closer to 14, the more alkaline it is. The pH of shampoo is within the pH range of 3 and 8.5.
Most shampoos are acidic, and this is because manufacturers try to replicate the normal pH of human hair (between 4 and 5). However, the acidity of shampoos doesn’t make them corrosive because manufacturers use corrosion inhibitors to remove or reduce the corrosivity of shampoos.
Safety Precautions For Handling Shampoo
Take these steps to ensure your safety, as well as anyone else working with shampoo.
Keep Your Shampoos Away From Open Flames Or Fire
Although the typical shampoo won't ignite or burn, keeping your shampoo away from high temperatures, heated surfaces, electrical sparks, and open flames is advisable. This dramatically reduces the chances of decomposition and release of toxic fumes.
Properly Label And Store Your Shampoo
If you need to transfer your shampoo to a different container, ensure the new container has a closed lid and is appropriately labeled. Refrain from attempting to transfer dry shampoo into a different canister. Always store your shampoo away from children and pets to prevent fire accidents or accidental inhalation and ingestion.
Don't Mix Your Shampoos
Mixing shampoos could give you an extra wash, but this could also produce a reaction that releases toxic fumes, increases flammability, and renders both products ineffective.
Ensure Proper Disposal
Shampoos are cleaning agents and will end up in the drain when properly used, so they can be washed down the drain if expired. But ensure your shampoo is water soluble before dumping it down. You could also check the labels for disposal instructions from the manufacturer.
Dry shampoos usually come in aerosol cans with pressurized gases that can explode, so avoid puncturing, crushing, or burning the canisters. To dispose of your dry shampoo, ensure the content of the canister is used up, and then you could drop it off at the nearest recycling center.
At the beginning of this article, you might not have been sure if shampoo was flammable. But now you know that typical shampoo isn't flammable, and although it's fire-resisting, it's not fire-extinguishing.
You also now know that dry shampoo is flammable, owing to the propellants used in the product delivery. Therefore, it would be best to handle even empty canisters carefully.