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Flammable Liquids

What are flammable and combustible liquids?

Flammable and combustible liquids are liquids that can burn. They are classified, or grouped, as either flammable or combustible by their flashpoints. Generally speaking, flammable liquids will ignite (catch on fire) and burn easily at normal working temperatures. Combustible liquids have the ability to burn at temperatures that are usually above working temperatures.

There are several specific technical criteria and test methods for identifying flammable and combustible liquids. Under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 1988, flammable liquids have a flashpoint below 37.8°C (100°F). Combustible liquids have a flashpoint at or above 37.8°C (100°F) and below 93.3°C (200°F).Flammable and combustible liquids are present in almost every workplace. Fuels and many common products like solvents, thinners, cleaners, adhesives, paints, waxes and polishes may be flammable or combustible liquids. Everyone who works with these liquids must be aware of their hazards and how to work safely with them.

Facts about flammable and combustible liquids.

* Flammable and combustible liquids ignite easily and burn with extreme rapidity.

* Flammability is determined by the flash point of a material.

* Flash point is the minimum temperature at which a liquid forms a vapor above its surface in sufficient concentration that it can be ignited.

* Flammable liquids have a flash point of less than 100°F. Liquids with lower flash points ignite easier.

* Combustible liquids have a flashpoint at or above 100°F.

* The vapor burns, not the liquid itself. The rate at which a liquid produces flammable vapors depends upon its vapor pressure.The vaporization rate increases as the temperature increases. Therefore, flammable and combustible liquids are more hazardous at elevated temperatures than at room temperature.