Fact Check : Hand Sanitiser Catches Fire, Burns Woman!

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Did a woman severely burn both her hands, after the hand sanitiser she applied caught fire from a stove? Find out what the facts really are!


Claim : Woman Applies Hand Sanitiser And Catches Fire From Stove!

Clickbait websites posted stories about a lady who accidentally set both her hands on fire after applying a hand sanitiser.

Fact Check : Hand Sanitiser Catches Fire, Burns Woman!

The injured woman rubbed hand sanitiser all over her hands and arms before preparing a meal.

The woman was likely unaware that the alcohol-based hand sanitiser is a flammable substance.

While waiting for the sanitiser to evaporate, she turned on the kitchen stove.

To her horror, her arms instantly ignited, causing what looks like third-degree burns to both arms.

Clearly, the woman in question should have waited for the sanitiser to dry completely before going near the stove.


Hand Sanitiser Catches Fire, Burns Woman : Hoax Debunked!

This is yet another Internet hoax that have been circulating on social media. These websites apparently accepted the claim at face value, without fact-checking.

Alcohol Evaporates Pretty Quickly

The alcohol in alcohol-based hand sanitisers quickly evaporates when you rub it all over your hands. On average, it takes just 15 seconds for the alcohol in a hand sanitiser to evaporate.

Unless the woman in the story quickly turned on the stove after applying the hand sanitiser, it is not possible for the hand sanitiser on her hand to catch fire.

Hand Sanitiser

Hand Sanitisers Can Only Be Set On Fire Using A Direct Flame

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

  • a hand sanitiser with 60% alcohol is flammable, but only using a direct flame.
  • alcohol vapour can only be ignited by a direct flame.

In other words, for the story to be true, the woman would have to place both hands over, or very close to, the stove’s flames.

That’s A Skin Graft Donor Site

The picture is of a burn victim, whose forearm was harvested for skin grafts.

You can see the sharp edges on her right forearm – an actual burn would not look like that.

You can also see the pattern on the donor site – marks of the dermatome used to harvest the skin grafts.


Hand Sanitiser : Should You Still Use It?

Now, while the story may be a tall tale, you should never take alcohol-based hand sanitisers lightly. It is a flammable liquid, which will catch fire if you pour it near or onto an open flame.

Hand sanitiser brands like Purell recommend that you do NOT use alcohol-based hand sanitisers near an open flame, or while smoking a cigarette.

Setting Hand Sanitiser On Fire

We should also point out that soap actually works better against microbes, including the COVID-19 coronavirus.

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

However, a hand sanitiser is useful if you have no ready access to soap and clean water. Just make sure the hand sanitiser has an alcohol content of 60% to 95%.



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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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