Storage regulations for aerosol paint

Written by frank m. young
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Storage regulations for aerosol paint
While favoured by graffiti artists, aerosol paints have many practical home and office purposes. (aerosol image by michele goglio from

Aerosol paints, though useful for simple, non-professional painting projects, have special storage needs. Like all paints, aerosols are made with solvent-based materials. Their containers are also highly flammable, due to the gases contained in their cans. Knowing how to safely store aerosol paints can prevent accidents in home or office areas.

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Storage of Small Quantities of Aerosol Paint Cans

The Oregon Department of Transportation Safety Standards state that quantities of aerosol paint up to 25 gallons (approximately 638244gr. cans) can be safely stored without an approved storage container. No other flammable products are to be stored with aerosol paint, however.

Still, a single can of aerosol paint may pose a potential fire hazard, if improperly stored. ODOT suggests a half-inch plywood container cabinet for storage of smaller quantities of usable aerosol paint cans. However, the Emergency Medical Standards procedure cautions against aerosol paint storage at all. They advise buyers to purchase aerosol paint in small quantities, and to use the contents of a can before opening another.

DuPont notes that aerosol paints must be used and stored in non-smoking areas, due to the highly flammable nature of the solvents in the paint. Solvents, pigments and other additives help "enhance the appearance and resistance of the finished product."

The University of Missouri further warns to keep aerosol paint away from any device with a pilot light, welding activities, light switch, light bulb, electric garage door or any other source of spark or flame. A cool, dark, well-ventilated area is best for storage of any paint type.

Chemaxx, Inc. has determined that an aerosol paint can, dropped eight inches onto a dull wooden pyramid, can easily puncture and spray out its contents. Any type of heat element can turn this puncture can become a highly concentrated fireball. Use up cans of aerosol spray paint if possible, before buying new cans.

Use up cans of aerosol spray paint if possible.
Use up cans of aerosol spray paint if possible. (spray image by Dragana Petrovic from

Safe Storage of Large Amounts of Aerosol Paint Cans

If more than 25 gallons of aerosol paints are stored, a special flammables cabinet must be used, according to the ODOT.

Princeton University defines such cabinets as those "designed and constructed to protect the contents from external fires." These cabinets are commonly bright yellow in colour, with a clearly visible sign that reads "Flammable--Keep Fire Away."

Flammables cabinets are often manufactured with vents. Lab notes, "ventilation for chemical storage cabinets is not required or even recommended by any Federal regulatory agency." These vents are usually plugged with bungs. They're included to conform to state and local codes, or insurance regulations, that demand the inclusion of vents.

Storage regulations for aerosol paint
All quantities of aerosol paint cans are considered flammable and should be treated with caution. (flammable class 3 placard image by k9dg from

Rules of Thumb for All Aerosol Paint Storage

Regardless of the quantity, aerosol products, including paint, need to be stored away from direct sunlight, and away from any heat source above 48.9 degrees Celsius (10 degrees C Celsius)

Project GreenHealth notes that leftover or otherwise unused aerosol paint is considered hazardous waste. Aerosol paint cans cannot be discarded until they are drained of their contents. Discarded aerosol cans may only be crushed, punctured or otherwise deflated with the use of an approved puncture device, and the procedure is best left to a qualified professional. Do not puncture or burn any type of aerosol can on your own.

Storage regulations for aerosol paint
It is an environmental and health hazard to burn or puncture aerosol cans. (Toxic hazard flag image by Stasys Eidiejus from

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