Common Flammable Liquids

Written by michael judge
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Common Flammable Liquids
Cigarette lighters contain a common flammable liquid. ( Images)

Technically speaking, a flammable liquid is one with a flash point (the temperature at which it produces enough vapours to catch fire) below 37.8 degrees Celsius F. To most people, though, a flammable liquid is just one which can catch fire. By this definition, flammable liquids are very common. You can often find them in your own house or backyard, and certainly in the tank of your car.

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Petroleum Products

Liquid petroleum products, especially gasoline, are very common in today's world. The flash point of gasoline is -7.22 degrees Celsius, so it meets the strict definition of flammable. Diesel has a higher flash point of around 37.8 degrees C, but it is still generally considered a flammable liquid. Kerosene is another common flammable liquid made from petroleum. It has a flash point between 37.7 and 71.1 degrees C and is used in portable stoves and also some jet engines.


There are many different alcohols, but when most people think of alcohol, they think of ethanol which is the alcohol found in wines, beers and liquor. Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is quite flammable with a flash point of 12.8 degrees Celsius. Strong spirits with high concentrations of alcohol, such as vodka or rum, will also be flammable and some cooks use this property to prepare flaming dishes such as Steak Diane. Other alcohols are also flammable, such as methanol with a flash point of 52 degrees.

Butane and Propane

Butane and propane in their natural states are gases at room temperature, but they are normally compressed into liquids for everyday use. This is done so that the butane or propane can be easily transported and used, since in their gaseous state they take up a much larger volume. Both are readily flammable. Butane is used in cigarette lighters and has a flash point of -76 to -117 degrees Fahrenheit. Propane is commonly used with barbecues and has a flash point of -156 degrees.


Acetone is another flammable liquid often encountered around the house. It is found in some common household items such as nail polish remover and, with a flash point of 0-17.778 degrees Celsius, will burn quite readily. Other liquids which will readily catch fire and are in common usage include paint thinner (sometimes called white spirit) and turpentine, as well as naphtha. Charcoal lighter fluid, with a flash point of around 105 degrees is also in this category.

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