Are Essential Oils Flammable?

Essential Oils – We use them, we love them, and if you are like me, can hardly live without them. They are the components in our perfumes, bathing soaps, and shampoos that give them fragrance. Essential oils are a part of our daily lives; if you take a deep breath right now, you may be inhaling one. Using them topically in a body product is only one of many methods of use. Many people ingest them in water and vegetable capsules as a supplement. Others add a drop or two into a burning candle. In light of this recent trend, reports have been gathered concerning the dangers of unsupervised or careless usage of these oils. If you are a lover of essential oils, here is what you need to know about them.

 

Essential Oils are Volatile

When a substance is classified as volatile, it means it is flammable, dangerous and very unstable. Flammable substances are determined by their flash point value (the lowest temperature at which a substance can ignite when there is an ignition source in close proximity with it). Most volatile substances that are also flammable have a flashpoint of more than 60.5 degrees Celsius (140.9 Fahrenheit).

If you ever wondered whether all essential oils are flammable, the answer is yes! However, they have different flash points and are classified according to their varying degrees of flammability. Tea tree, lavender, and citrus oils all have a flashpoint of about 50 – 60 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit) and hence are flammable.

 

What Is Flash Point?

All essential and fragrance oils and aroma chemicals are volatile and will evaporate, some more than others (due to their low flash point).  Most are flammable, but the temperature at which they ignite differs from oil to oil.

All flammable liquids have a vapor pressure. Therefore, as the temperature of the oil increases, the vapor pressure increases, increasing the volume of evaporated liquid in the air.  Flash point is the minimum temperature in which there is sufficient evaporated oil in the air that can ignite.

The following information has been collected from one of our essential oils’ supplier and is for reference only. You will want to check your your supplier or refer to the Safety Datasheet for more information as essential oils are natural compounds and their flash point may vary slightly from batch to batch. Keep in mind, that an essential oil with a lower flash point may be blended with another essential oil that has a higher flash point, which could make it more tolerable to heat.

 

Essential Oil Flashpoint

 

Essential Oil

Centigrade

Fahrenheit

ANISEED90194
BASIL73167
BAY55131
BENZOIN170338
BERGAMOT55131
BLACK PEPPER54129
CEDARWOOD100212
CLARY SAGE75167
CLOVE LEAF95200
CORIANDER SEED63145
ELEMI54129
EUCALYPTUS49120
FRANKINCENSE51124
GALBANUM RESINOID60140
GARDEN MINT61141
GERANIUM65149
GINGER67152
GRAPEFRUIT43109
GRAPEFRUIT – PINK45113
GUAIAC WOOD139282
HO WOOD76168
JUNIPER BERRY46114
LAVENDER65149
LEMON48118
LEMONGRASS71159
LIME46114
MANDARIN42107
MAY CHANG58136
NUTMEG38100
ORANGE – BLOOD47116
ORANGE – SWEET43109
PALMAROSA93199
PATCHOULI100212
PEPPERMINT69156
PETITGRAIN66150
ROSEMARY40104
ROSEWOOD75167
SANDALWOOD – Amyris142287
TAGETES2577
TEA TREE59138
TOLU BALSAM140284
VETIVER110230
YLANG YLANG90194

 

AROMA CHEMICAL

CENTIGRADE

FAHRENHEIT

ADOXAL

>94

>201

ALDEHYDE C11 UNDEC

76

168

ALDEHYDE C14 PECHE PURE

>94

>201

ALDEHYDE C16 STRAWBERRY PURE

110

230

ALDEHYDE C18 COCONUT

113

235

ALICATE

70

158

ALLYL AMYL GLCOLATE

>100

>212

ALPHA PINENE

38

100

AMBER CORE

132

269

AMBRETTIA D

117

242

AMYL ACETATE

32

89

ANISALDEHYDE

116

240

APHERMATE

74

165

APPLELIDE

94

201

AQUANAL

>100

>212

AURANTIOL

Undetermined

Undetermined

AZARBRE

>100

>212

BENZYL ACETATE

95

203

BENZYL SALICYLATE

137

278

BERGAMAL

>94

>201

BETA DAMASCONE

>100

>212

BETA IONONE

129

264

BICYCLONALACTONE

113

235

BISABOLENE

>100

>212

CARYOPHYLENE

98

208

CASHMERAN

>100

>212

CEDRAMBER

>100

>212

CEDRYL ACETATE

Undetermined

Undetermined

CETALOX (AMBROXAN)

>100

>212

CINNAMIC ALDEHYDE

128

262

CINNAMYL ACETATE

101

213

CITRAL PQ

89

192

CITRONELLOL

107

224

CONIFERAN PURE

99

210

DIHYDRO ISO JASMONATE

Undetermined

Undetermined

DIMETOL

63

145

ETHYL ACETATE

-4

24

ETHYL BUTYRATE

26

78

ETHYL MALTOL

Undetermined

Undetermined

ETHYL METHYL 2 BUTYRATE

26

78

ETHYLENE BRASSYLATE

192

377

EUGEONAL ACETATE

110

230

EVERNYL

>139

>282

FRUCTALATE

>100

>212

GALAXOLIDE

100

212

GAMMA DELACTONE

100

212

GERANIOL BJ

100

212

GERANYL PROPIONATE

94

201

HEDIONE

101

213

HERBOXANE

76

168

HEXYL CINNAMIC ALDEHYDE

101

213

ISO E SUPER

>99

>210

ISOBUTYL METHYL KETONE

14

57

ISORALDEINE 95

120

248

LILLIESTRALIS

>100

>212

LIMONENE (D’LIMONENE)

53

127

LINALOL

75

167

LINALYL ACETATE

85

185

LIXETONE

>100

>212

MELAFLEUR

104

219

MELONAL

61

141

MUSK KETONE

Undetermined

Undetermined

MYRRH RESINOID 5O% IN TEC

NECTARATE

>99

>210

NEROLIDOL

125

257

OLIBANUM RESINOID 30% IN TEC

ORIVONE

>100

>212

PADMA

86

186

PEA PHENYL ETHYL ALCOHOL

>100

>212

PHENETHYL ACETATE

105

221

RASPBERRY KETONE

>99

>210

ROSYRANE SUPER

>100

>212

SAFRALEINE

120

248

SANDALMYSORE CORE

131

267

SANTALIFF (SANDALMYSORE)

94

201

SHANGRALIDE OLIFFAC

104

219

SILVIAL

120

248

STEMONE

Undetermined

Undetermined

SUEDERAL

93

199

TETRALIDE

>100

>212

TRIPLAL

66

150

VERDALIA A

88

190

VERTENEX

100

212

YARA YARA

101

213

 

Are Diffused Essential Oils Flammable?

Should anyone worry about essential oils catching fire when diffused? Suppose you are re-creating the night of your first dinner date with the love of your life, is it a good idea to drop a few drops of lavender on a burning candle? Robert Tisserand, a leading expert in the field of essential oil study had this to say:

“Where there have been problems is with burner/vaporizers that use a naked flame candle – these have been known to “spontaneously” catch fire, and they are a fire hazard. When a naked flame comes into direct contact with concentrated essential oils and a very hot burner, sometimes with oily residues, this can be a risk. It is much better to use ones that operate without a naked flame. As for a spark from electrical equipment, this has never been known to ignite essential oil, and I can’t imagine a scenario where it would be a problem.”

 

 Essential Oils Used On Wool Balls In The Dryer

Modern dryers have at least three general cycles: low heat for delicates, medium heat for permanent press and high heat for regular clothes. The temperature range is 125 to 135 F across these cycles. However, essential oils are flammable and could pose a fire risk when added to dryer balls or dryer sheets, according to Aroma Web.  I have personally used lavender on my wool ball in the dryer without any issues, but it is something worth considering. Is it worth the risk of a house fire?

 

Tips on How to Avoid Essential Oil Fires 

  • Although not all vaporized essential oils can ignite and catch fire, it is advisable not to use oils close to open fires such as a gas cooker stove.
  • Never store essential oils close to open fires or the gas stove.
  • Avoid heating essential oils over a naked flame candle to perfume a room. First, the heat changes the chemical composition of the oils, and there is always the possibility of the vapors igniting and catching fire. Instead, use a mist diffuser which is safer, convenient and simply disperses the scent particles into the air using water.

Therapeutic Blending With Essential Oil | Aroma Hut Institute

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