Chemicals and the Fire Hazards They Cause in Your Home

You turn off the oven when you leave the house. You keep towels away from the stovetop. You don’t leave candles burning unattended. You have working fire detectors installed throughout your home, and you even have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. You’re already doing a lot to prevent fires in your home, but are you doing enough? Lots of common household chemicals – like cleaning products, automotive chemicals, and more – are major fire hazards. Here are some things to keep in mind to keep your family safe from fires caused by chemicals in your home.

There are lots of products that we store in our homes and garages that are potential fire hazards just because of their chemical makeup. It’s incredibly important to store and use these products carefully and correctly. Here are some flammable chemical ingredients to look for:

Alcohol, and no, not just the kind you drink, can be a fire hazard, and chemicals that contain alcohol can be flammable. Be cautious with products that contain ethyl or ethanol alcohol and isopropyl alcohol. And yes, includes even average, everyday rubbing alcohol.

Chemicals that contain solvents are highly flammable; many can even spontaneously combust when met with the air. Solvents include paint thinners, turpentine, nail polish remover, glues, spot removal products, and more.

Benzene is an extremely flammable chemical. Many products will notify you on the label if they include it, but you can check the ingredients to be sure. Phenol, toluene, and aniline are derivatives of benzene.

Petroleum is highly flammable. It’s most obviously found in gasoline, but it can also be found in other chemicals. Chemical labels will usually note if petroleum is an ingredient in the product.

These aren’t the only flammable chemicals that are located in your home, but they are the most common. You should check the label of every chemical you own and look for them to say things like: irritant, corrosive, poison, flammable, oxidation, organic peroxide, or poison gas. Some other products that can contain flammable chemicals are paints, stains, polishes, and varnishes.
Proper Storage

Proper storage of chemicals is absolutely essential to preventing fires in your home or garage. You should read the labels of all products and follow any storage instructions closely. Make sure that containers are tightly sealed. Do not store chemicals like gasoline and propane in your garage or home because they are extremely flammable. Never store chemicals near water heaters or boilers. Also follow common sense when storing chemicals – don’t mix them; don’t store them in any containers other than the ones they came in; and be careful that they aren’t stored near things that could easily catch fire, like rags, newspapers, firewood, etc. Whenever possible, don’t store flammable chemicals at all.

After using chemicals, make sure you thoroughly and properly clean up. Do not keep rags or towels that have chemicals on them lying around. If a chemical spills, clean it up immediately – unless it emits a strong odor; in that case, call the fire department. Some chemicals are unsafe to inhale. Your fire department should also handle putting out chemical fires – never try to put them out with water by yourself.

Allen Ricks is a chemical professional and amateur writer who writes about anything from basic poison control tips to the benefits of safety data sheets.

Photo Credit: Loving Earth


  1. jaclyn calderon says:

    this article about safety and prevention of fire at home is something that everybody should know… we may not be all aware of what can cause fire in or home so some tips here can help us be aware of fire prevention.. I didn’t even know that Nail polish remover is flammable.

  2. Lynne Braganza says:

    I really like how informative this article is. From listing the chemicals that could be fire hazardous inside a home. I also like how it teaches proper storage for each chemical and other precautions.

  3. malou nicart says:

    Most fire hazards are found inside the home. Add to that negligence and your property can become ashes.

  4. Dian Kris says:

    It is important for us to take note of every hazardous materials and substances in our household. We may be too careful on everything we use in our house still, we could not be confident enough that nothing would go wrong. Fire itself is not the only cause many fire disaster, so we should be a little more careful in everything.

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