Many people use essential oils to treat a wide range of conditions, but are essential oils really safe to use? Are essential oils flammable? Are they a fire hazard? You’re about to find out.
From anxiety, and insomnia to headaches, many people turn to aromatherapy as an alternative form of healing. Aromatherapy uses plant extracts to promote health and healing, often in the form of essential oils.
Essential oils are not just used for healing, though. They are also used to liven up the home with a fresh and relaxing aroma, in making candles, and even in adding fragrance to clothes. Given these many functions of the essential oil, have you ever wondered if they are flammable?
What is Essential Oil?
Essential oil is a compound extracted from plants. Such “extract” captures the essence of the plant, lending the oil the plant’s unique scent and aroma.
Essential oils are typically produced through mechanical methods, cold-pressing, and distillation. The essential oil is then combined with carrier oils, which makes it safe to use on humans.
There are many types of essential oils, and they serve different purposes:
- Peppermint essential oil is used to treat digestive issues and increase energy.
- Tea tree essential oils have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which aid in skin healing.
- Lavender essential oils are used as stress relievers.
- Citrus oils, like lemon essential oils, are used to boost mood and energy.
Inhaling just a few drops of essential oils directly from the bottle or by putting them in the diffuser can already produce the desired effect.
But we’re not here to discuss the touted medicinal properties of essential oils. Instead, we’re here to know if an essential oil is a flammable substance.
Is Peppermint Oil Flammable? Are Essential Oils Flammable?
So, is peppermint oil flammable? The short answer is YES. In fact, most essential oils are flammable because they have a low flash point. Flash point refers to the minimum temperature at that an object gives off enough vapor to start a fire.
Flammable liquids have a flash point of fewer than 93 degrees Celsius.
If you are going to examine the flash point of the commonly used essential oils, you’ll find that many of them are below 100 degrees celsius, making them a highly flammable liquid. Certain essential oils have higher flashpoint, but they are still flammable in most cases. So if an essential oil is exposed to a heat or ignition source, then it can catch fire.
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Are Fragrance Oils Flammable?
Unlike essential oils which were made naturally, fragrance oils are manufactured synthetically in a lab. Fragrance oils can mimic the aroma of essential oils and are cheaper. These are used in the production of scented candles, perfumes, and personal care products.
As for the matter of flammability, fragrance oils are also flammable substances. They do have higher flashpoints than essential oils, but that still doesn’t take away the fact that fragrance oils can still catch fire when exposed to high enough heat.
Also, fragrance oils are not typically used as standalone products. They are incorporated into other products, such as lotions and perfumes, so their flash point can also vary.
Is Using Essential Oils in the Laundry a Fire Hazard?
Some people have made it a practice to add essential oils into their laundry. A few drops of essential oils can effectively lend your clothes such a wonderful aroma, and combining them with an unscented laundry detergent can make your clothes smell fresher.
But is it safe to use essential oils in your laundry, especially in the clothes dryer?
The short answer is no, it is not.
Remember that the dryer uses high heat to dry your clothes. Most clothes dryers can heat up to as high as 176 degrees Fahrenheit, or 80 degrees Celsius
You already know that most essential oils have low flashpoints well below 80 degrees Celsius, so putting essential oils in your dryer can indeed cause a fire.
Keep in mind that essential oils are already highly flammable, so exposing them to a temperature higher than their flashpoints can result in a huge fire hazard. Not only will your clothes catch fire, but you are also potentially exposing your home to a real fire risk.
Is It Safe to Use Essential Oils in Candles?
Essential oils are also commonly used in candles as they give the room a wonderful, relaxing scent.
But knowing that essential oils are flammable, is it still safe to use them in candles?
Surprisingly, essential oils become less flammable when added to candle wax. Therefore, you can safely add essential oils to candle making.
What you should NOT do is add essential oil to a ready-made candle, or worse, pour a few drops of essential oil into a lighted candle. Such direct contact between the oil and the fire can cause it to ignite.
Essential Oils Safety Tips
Now that you know that essential oils are flammable and are a legit fire hazard, it is important to keep these safety tips in mind to avoid any risk.
- Use essential oils in a well-ventilated space.
- Keep essential oils away from the reach of children.
- Store essential oils away from sources of an open fire, such as candles, gas stoves and fireplaces.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Essential Oils Spontaneously Combust?
Yes, essential oils can spontaneously combust. Clothes that have been saturated with essential oils while in the dryer can combust even after they’ve been washed. So if you are using essential oils while washing clothes, make sure to use the lowest temperature or just do away with the oil altogether to avoid the risk of starting a fire.
Are Essential Oils Flammable in Candles?
It is often safe to mix essential oils in candles while in the process of making candles. The wax in candles makes essential oils less flammable. However, it is risky to add oil to an already made candle, or one that is already lighted and burnt.
Do Essential Oils Cause Fires?
Yes, essential oils can cause a fire because they are highly flammable and volatile. When exposed to an open flame, essential oils can be a real fire hazard.
Going back to the question: are essential oils flammable? Do essential oils catch fire?
The answer is yes, essential oils, whether these are oils made from tea tree, lemon, lavender, or peppermint, are flammable substances. Because they have low flashpoints, they can ignite a fire when exposed to a heat source or open flames.
If you are like most people who use essential oils in washing clothes, then it’s best to use low temperatures to prevent any potential ignition. Also, keep your essential oils away from any open fire and always be careful whenever you are using them.