Shaving may not be your favorite self-care activity due to razor burns and cuts, but the use of shaving cream could help alleviate these concerns. Shaving creams are popular cosmetic products that aren't leaving anytime soon.
But, for the safe use of this product, we must answer the question: is shaving cream flammable? If yes, how can we handle it to prevent fire hazards?
Is Shaving Cream Flammable?
Yes, shaving cream is highly flammable. While it isn't flammable enough to auto-ignite, an increased temperature and exposure to open flame can lead to a fire. In addition, some shaving creams contain aerosol, which uses highly flammable ingredients to dispense the product.
What Is Shaving Cream?
Shaving cream is a cosmetic product that combines chemicals to prep the skin and hair for shaving. It provides lubrication by softening the hairs, and its foam lifts hairs away from the skin, allowing the razor to glide across easily, giving a clean cut.
In the early 1940s, saloons used shaving soaps. These soaps were wet, and then people used a brush to create lather that was then applied. However, in the late 1940s, aerosol shaving creams became a thing.
What Are The Major Components Of Shaving Creams?
Shaving creams are literally shaving soaps in cans. They contain up to 30% soap which acts as a surfactant that holds onto oil and water and reduces surface tension.
In addition, some shaving creams contain glycerin or other humectants that pull water from the atmosphere onto the skin to hydrate and soften it. Emollients are substances that create a protective film that traps moisture and protects the skin.
Emulsifiers like triethanolamine or TEA make oils and other ingredients more soluble. Foaming agents are similar to surfactants and are used to produce foam. Finally, propellants, usually pressurized gases, expand to create a force that pushes out the contents of the container.
From the 1950s until the 1990s, chlorofluorocarbons and vinyl chloride were used as propellants. Then, they were banned due to their negative effect on the environment. Now, gaseous hydrocarbons are the preferred choice.
Is Shaving Cream A Fire Hazard?
Yes, it is. A fire hazard is any material or substance that may start, aggravate, or contribute to the spread of fire. And since shaving cream is flammable and can start and spread a fire, it is a fire hazard.
When shaving cream burns, it also releases toxic fumes and can explode when pressure is exerted on its container. When shaving cream burns or decomposes, some toxic fumes that are released are carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur oxide (SOx), and nitrogen oxide (NOx).
What Is The Difference Between Shaving Cream And Shaving Gel?
Gels are thick liquids that often behave like solids due to their consistency. Shaving gels are cosmetic products used in shaving that don’t lather or foam on immediate application. They come in pumps or cans for easy use or dispensation.
Unlike shaving foams, shaving gels are transparent and usually allow for more accurate cuts. Shaving gels are also more lubricating and are made from oil and water. However, similarly to shaving foam, shaving gel is also flammable.
How Do I Put Out A Fire From Cheap Shaving Creams?
If your shaving cream accidentally causes a fire, it can be put out with extinguishing agents. These agents include water mist, carbon dioxide, dry chemicals, and chemical foam. If the fire gets out of control, contact the fire department closest to you. For aerosol shaving creams, remove the can from the area to prevent an explosion.
Is Shaving Cream Corrosive?
Contrary to popular opinion, shaving creams aren't corrosive. Most people think they are corrosive, but these claims are false. Instead, these claims are due to strong or active chemicals in shaving creams, like sodium hydroxide, associated with corrosion and chemical burns.
However, chemicals like sodium hydroxide are present in small quantities. The corrosivity of substances is usually gauged based on pH; the more acidic or alkaline a substance is, the more corrosive it'll be. The pH of a substance is generally measured on a scale of 0-14.
The neutral point on the scale is 7, and numbers less than 7 are acidic, and the closer it is to 0, the more acidic it is. Numbers above 7 are considered alkaline; the closer they are to 14, the more alkaline they'll be.
The average pH range of shaving creams is between 4.2–5.7. Manufacturers of shaving creams also add pH balancers to balance the pH of the solution, making it less corrosive/reactive. One popular pH balancer in shaving creams is triethanolamine or TEA.
Although shaving creams aren't considered corrosive compounds, they are still reactive, especially in a degraded or dry state. For example, dried shaving cream on car surfaces is known to cause paint discoloration.
Safety Precautions For Handling Shaving Cream
Take these steps to ensure your safety as well as anyone else working with shaving cream.
Keep Your Shaving Creams Away From Open Flames Or Fire
Your average shaving cream will ignite and burn on exposure to an open flame. Keep your shaving creams away from heated surfaces, sunlight, electrical sparks, and open flames to prevent a fire accident.
Store Your Shaving Cream Properly
Store all shaving creams in cool, dry places with temperatures below 122°F. Also, tuck them away from the reach of your children to avoid accidental ingestion. If you use aerosol shaving creams, avoid taking them on planes as, in some cases, they can explode and start a fire due to their flammability.
Don't Tamper With Your Shaving Cream’s Container
If you use aerosol shaving creams, you can't transfer their contents to a new container. So avoid tampering, burning, piercing, or puncturing the aerosol can even after the contents are used up.
Ensure Proper Disposal
Shaving cream cans are usually made from steel or aluminum; these metals are recyclable. Ensure you exhaust the contents of the can before visiting your local recycling center to drop it off. Avoid puncturing or burning the aerosol cans due to residual flammable gases in the cans.
Shaving creams have made grooming and self-care easier for all. However, after analyzing the ingredients in a typical shaving cream, we have an answer: is shaving cream flammable?
Now that you know shaving creams are flammable and understand the tips for proper handling and safe disposal, you should be free from shaving cream fire accidents.