10 Household Items That are Extremely Flammable

Updated: Mar. 21, 2024

A substance is considered highly flammable if its ignition point is lower than 90 degrees F. Check out these common household items that are highly flammable. Some of them may surprise you!

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Yes it’s true! Flour can be a fire hazard, especially flour dust in the air. In fact, many powdered foods, such as non-dairy creamer, spices and dried milk, will ignite readily. This is because they can burn easily from all sides, so they flare up quickly when exposed to a naked flame. So beware when you’re using dried, powdery foods like flour.

If you should be unlucky enough to suffer a house fire, a smoke alarm could save your life. So always be sure yours is properly maintained.

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Beauty Products

Many beauty products contain highly flammable chemicals. Our favorite pampering products such as hair mousse, hair spray and antiperspirants can all pose a danger if they’re not used carefully.

They’re especially dangerous if they come in aerosol cans – not only will they ignite if exposed to a naked flame, but they can also explode if left on a sunny windowsill. Always store such products safely out of the sun.

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Paraffin-Based Skin Creams

Skin creams are probably not top of your list of potential fire hazards. But there have been some horrifying accidents when people used paraffin-based skin products which have soaked into their clothing and then ignited.

In 2006, Philip Hoe from Doncaster, UK, died when his clothing ignited as he lit a cigarette. He had used a paraffin-based cream to treat a skin condition, and some of the cream seeped into his clothes. Always wash clothing exposed to such skin cream at high temperatures and avoid naked flames such as cigarette lighters.

Photo: Courtesy of Salve

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Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizers are very useful when you’re out and about, but many of them are alcohol-based products, so they can ignite very easily at relatively low temperatures. While extremely rare, there have been instances when fires have been caused by hand sanitizers and static electricity, so always use a small amount that will dry quickly. And by the way, rubbing alcohol is also highly flammable.

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Cooking Oil

It stands to reason that cooking oils are highly flammable, yet a high proportion of house fires are caused when cooking oils ignite, often when pans are left unattended. In 2018, three houses were destroyed in Calgary, Ontario, and two more damaged after a cooking pan caught fire when left alone.

Never throw water on a pan fire—it will only cause greater combustion. And don’t try to carry the pan outside either, because it’s likely to drip burning oil as you go, causing an even greater fire. Cover the pan with a damp cloth or dish towel and leave at least 30 minutes.

And, take a look at these 20 other hidden fire hazards that could be in your home.

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Sasa Prudkov/Shutterstock

Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover contains acetone, which is highly flammable – the fumes can even be ignited from some distance away. In 2016, Texas woman Brittany Smith was burned over 30 percent of her body when the fumes from her nail polish remover were ignited by a nearby candle. Never use nail polish remover anywhere near a naked flame.

And check out these other safety tips to protect your home against a fire.

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Laundry Products

Almost all laundry products, including pods, stain removers and fabric softeners, are flammable. So it’s important to store them safely, and avoid exposure to a naked flame, when you’re using them.

Of course, these chemicals can also pose a risk to small children – another reason to make sure they’re safely put away.

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Auto Products

You’d expect items like brake fluid, oils and anti-freeze to be highly flammable and you’d be right. Many products found in a home auto garage have the potential to cause an inferno very quickly if ignited, so it’s essential to store them safely. Ensure they’re well away from any heat source, and don’t store them near the doorway as they could cut off your escape route if you do happen to have a garage fire.

Home mechanics might also need to store gasolinesee our tips for safe storage.

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Pool Cleaning Chemicals

Owning your own pool is a taste of heaven in the heat of summer, but keeping the water clean and hygienic takes work and the use of powerful chemicals. But pool chlorine doesn’t even need a flame for it to ignite – it can happen with the addition of just a small amount of water. So always store your pool cleaning products in a safe, dry environment.

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The Weird and Wonderful

And last but not least, there are some household items that have probably never crossed your mind as possible fire risks. For example, black shoe polish contains charcoal dust, mothballs are very flammable, and ping pong balls will also ignite easily if exposed to fire. And the combination of silly string and party candles could prove lethal if the two come into contact.

Most household fires happen because people are careless or don’t realize the risks. By taking a few simple precautions and understanding the nature of your everyday household items, you’re less likely to suffer a house fire.