Hand Sanitiser : Can It Set Your Car On Fire?

People are sharing videos of cars catching fire from hand sanitisers left inside under the hot sun, but can a hand sanitiser really set your car on fire? Let’s find out!

Hand Sanitiser : Can It Set Your Car On Fire?

 

Hand Sanitiser : Can It Set Your Car On Fire?

Fake news creators, including websites trying to go viral, keep churning out stories about hand sanitisers setting cars and even hands on fire.

Here is a recent example by Scoop – a brand new “entertainment” website, which basically copies and sensationalises news from other outlets.

The writer picked up the news from Daily Express, but added the claim it was caused by a hand sanitiser to sensationalise the story and make it go viral.

The original news report pointed out that the fire started in the engine compartment when the driver attempted to start the car (which underwent an engine overhaul the day before).

 

Hand Sanitiser : No, It Cannot Set Your Car On Fire!

Now, let us explain the science of why hand sanitisers cannot set your car on fire…

Fact #1 : Many Hand Sanitisers Are Not Flammable

There are two main types of hand sanitisers – alcohol-based hand sanitisers, and non-alcohol hand sanitisers.

The non-alcohol based hand sanitisers are based on povidone-iodine, triclosan or benzalkonium chloride, and are completely not flammable.

Alcohol-based hand sanitisers are somewhat flammable, but it all depends on their alcohol content. Those with lower alcohol concentrations – 60-70%, are less flammable than those with higher concentrations – 90-95%.

Recommended : Hand Sanitiser vs Soap : Which Should YOU Use?

Fact #2 : Alcohol Don’t Evaporate That Easily

Many people will point out that alcohol can evaporate, and the vapours are highly flammable. That is true but the boiling points of common types of alcohol used in hand sanitisers are pretty high :

  • Ethanol : 78.37 °C
  • Isopropyl alcohol : 82.5 °C
  • N-propanol : 97.0 °C

But how hot can your car get in a very hot day? Up to 60°C, according to the Metro UK.

Car Temperature Under Sun

In other words – your car won’t get HOT ENOUGH to evaporate the alcohol in your hand sanitiser!

Fact #3 : Alcohol Will Not Spontaneously Ignite

In August 2010, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a report on the flammability of alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Here were their key findings :

  • a hand sanitiser with 60% alcohol is flammable, but only using a direct flame.
  • alcohol vapour can only be produced by directly heating the hand sanitiser
  • alcohol vapour can only be ignited by a direct flame – it won’t spontaneously ignite.

 

Hand Sanitiser : Which Should You Get?

For a hand sanitiser to be effective at breaking apart coronaviruses like COVID-19, it needs to have an alcohol content of 60% to 95%.

Top healthcare authorities like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organisation (WHO), recommend using alcohol-based hand sanitisers over any other type of hand sanitiser.

Recommended : Soap vs Sanitiser : Which Works Better Against COVID-19?

Soap vs Sanitiser : Which Works Better Against COVID-19?

Malaysia

Singapore

United States

United Kingdom

Australia

If you are concerned about dry skin, just apply some moisturiser after rubbing the alcohol-based hand sanitiser dry on your hands.

 

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