Vinegar is yet another kitchen staple that we use in a variety of different dishes for an extra punch of flavor. It works to bring out the taste of the other ingredients, and perfectly complements salt for a tangy yet sweeter taste.
We can also use different types of vinegar for its cleaning properties. For instance, white vinegar can be used to clean tough stains, keep your laundry soft, or tackle dirty kitchen appliances, bathroom sinks, and taps.
As you can use vinegar for these tasks, you may be wondering if it is flammable. After all, it is like an acid, so you may be unsure how safe this substance is to have in the home, or whether it is prone to igniting.
If this is the case, then our guide is for you. In this guide, we will explain whether vinegar will catch fire, whether it is flammable, and whether it is safe for use in certain appliances. So, what exactly is vinegar, anyways, and what chemicals is it made out of?
What Is Vinegar?
In its most simple sense, vinegar is an aqueous solution of water, acetic acid, along with traces of other flavorings or acids, depending on the flavor.
Vinegar is very simple to make. For the most part, it is formed by leaving alcohol to sit for a long period, which will allow bacteria and acetic acid to form.
This is where the term vinegar comes from as it is derived from the Middle English and Old French words: ‘vyn egre’ which translates to sour wine.
Vinegar is often made by a process of the fermentation of ethanol or sugars by acetic acid bacteria. In this method, sugar is turned into vinegar, and is often done with fruit or peels.
Once the vinegar is left to form, and is fully fermented, it will consist of about 5-20% acetic acid, and the rest of the percentage will be water.
It is this acid that gives the vinegar its very distinctive, sour taste! This is why it is so simple to produce, and has been utilized by humans for centuries in our cooking, medicines and cleaning products.
It is understood that humans have been making and using vinegar since about 3,000 B.C., where we would use it to cook, to treat and to cleanse wounds.
Will Vinegar Catch On Fire?
Most household vinegar has such a low concentration of acetic acid, that it is not considered a fire risk. In addition, vinegar will not catch on fire usually, as it is not considered flammable.
This means that it does not easily catch fire, even though it contains acetic acid, which is extremely flammable. Most vinegar only has around 5% to 20% acetic acid, which is not a high enough concentration that would ignite or sustain a blaze.
The main reason for this is because the majority of vinegar is made up of water, which is not able to catch fire, and actually extinguishes it. Therefore, it is incredibly difficult for vinegar to catch fire.
Even under high heats, vinegar would eventually vaporize, which may leave you with acetic acid (which is flammable), but you would have your work cut out trying to get the vinegar hot enough for this to happen.
But, as we always say, everything is able to catch fire if you make it hot enough! With enough heat and energy, the compounds will break down into individual elements, which will leave you with oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon in the ethanoic acid, which will catch fire.
However, it is highly unlikely you would be able to create temperatures and an environment hot enough for this to happen.
You certainly would not be able to do this in the home, which means that vinegar is perfectly safe for you to use at home, as those types of vinegar are generally made up of 95% water. If you did try to ignite it, the solution would most likely evaporate entirely before it would even be able to catch fire.
Is Household Vinegar Flammable?
Household vinegar is made in the same way as other vinegars. The typical household vinegar that we are used to is also made with mostly water, and only a small percentage of acetic acid, and so it is also not flammable.
In addition, it would be incredibly difficult to evaporate the water and be left with just the concentrate in order to make it flammable, as the ethanoic acid would also evaporate as the water does. Therefore, household vinegars are also not flammable, and will not catch fire.
Is Boiling Vinegar Safe?
You can boil vinegar if needed, but you should do so in a well ventilated room so that you are not inhaling too much vinegar fumes.
However, keep in mind that you should not boil vinegar on a coal fire as the carbon monoxide that will burn as a result can be fatal and poisonous to inhale.
Is It Bad To Inhale Vinegar Fumes?
As a once in a while thing, inhaling vinegar fumes is not dangerous or bad for you. If you inhaled vinegar in your home with vinegar from your kitchen cupboards, then it is safe to inhale.
However, vinegar fumes can be rather dangerous in higher amounts as the vinegar can remove oxygen from the air, which would leave you unable to breathe.
When we say high amounts, we mean huge quantities of vinegar. You would have to purchase an industrial sized vat of vinegar, and leave it in a place with no ventilation for the fumes to build up and starve the room of oxygen.
In that case, you would be unable to breathe, and you would die. This is however very unlikely to happen, and you would never be under these circumstances, so vinegar is generally safe to smell, but do not inhale a lot of it.
Will Acetic Acid Catch Fire?
Yes, pure, concentrated acetic acid will catch fire, and is highly flammable. For instance, acetic acid has a flashpoint of about 104 degrees fahrenheit, and is the main active ingredient in vinegar that creates that bitter flavor.
In high concentration, pure acetic acid will be a fire hazard, and is very flammable.
Is Vinegar Flammable In The Oven?
No, even the temperatures of the oven in your kitchen are not hot enough to make vinegar flammable. It would not even be enough to concentrate the acid after hours of cooking, as it would probably just vaporize and evaporate before you could get it hot enough.
Is Vinegar Flammable In The Microwave?
A microwave will cook foods with radiation that will stimulate enough energy to warm the dish, as impressive as this sounds, nope, vinegar will not be flammable in the microwave oven either.
Microwaves can get incredibly hot, but this is still not hot enough to ignite the acetic acid.
Should You Put Vinegar In The Dryer?
Vinegar will also not be flammable, or prone to catching fire when placed in the dryer either. However, we do not advise that you do put vinegar in the dryer as it can erode the interior components of the dryer, which can cause some damage.
Is Cooking Vinegar Safe?
Cooking vinegar is probably the most common vinegar that you can find in the home. It can also be referred to as household vinegar, and therefore has a high water content.
This means that cooking vinegar is also not flammable, and will not catch fire. As a result, it is safe for use, as it only has about 4% to 7% acetic acid in most cases.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Safe?
Apple cider vinegar has a range of health benefits and properties that can help you trim down, keep your blood sugar levels up, and decrease your risk of heart disease and developing cancer.
It is also made up of about 5% to 6% of acetic acid, and so it too is not flammable at all!
To summarize, most vinegars have a very low acetic acid content, which is why they are not very flammable, and will not catch fire easily.
This includes household vinegar malt vinegar, apple cider vinegar, spirit vinegar and other common types of vinegar you can find!
Due to its low risk nature, you can use vinegar in your cooking, oven, microwave and many other uses risk free, and without a worry that it will ignite or burn.