Flammable & Combustible Solvents
Flammable solvents are widely used in laboratories and represent fire hazards which are often ignored. This page provides basic definitions and a list of precautions which need to be followed.
The lowest temperature of a liquid at which it gives off enough vapour to form an ignitable mixture of vapour and air immediately above the surface of the liquid.
The minimum temperature required to initiate or cause self-sustained combustion, in the absence of a spark or flame.
The Lower Explosive (flammable) Limit (LEL)
The lowest concentration of vapour in air which will burn or explode upon contact with a source of ignition.
The Upper Explosive (flammable) Limit (UEL)
The highest concentration of vapour in air which will burn or explode upon contact with a source of ignition.
The use of open flames should be avoided. However, if used:
- Use a flame only as long as necessary and extinguish it when finished.
- Do not use an open flame to heat a flammable or combustible material. It is generally not recommended to perform a distillation at reduced pressure using an open flame due to the possibility of local superheating.
- Remove all flammable and combustible materials from the work area before lighting a flame.
- Notify all others in the lab and note any procedure using flammable and combustible gases and liquids before lighting a flame.
- Store all flammable and combustible materials properly. All materials must be stored in an approved flammables cabinet except those intended for immediate use (i.e. that day).
- To prevent the potential for static discharge when pouring or transferring flammable solvents, touch plastic and glass containers together while transferring. If you are using metal containers use bonding and grounding straps.
- Always use flammable liquids in a fumehood.
- Link - All flammable and combustible materials must be stored and dispensed according to Storage and Dispensing of Flammable Liquids in Laboratories (Policy 1.34).