If you work with dangerous or hazardous goods, you need to know exactly how to store them safely. Class 3 flammable liquids are always likely to cause workplace fires and explosions, so it's important to store them in carefully controlled environments. In this article, we will discuss the flash points of a number of different flammable liquids and the requirements for their safe storage.
What is a flash point?
The flash point of a flammable liquid is the lowest temperature at which vapours of that liquid will ignite, if given an ignition source. Flammable fuels will usually give off certain levels of vapour as the temperature increases and they become more gaseous. The flash point is the point at which there will be sufficient vapour to ignite.
Safety in flammable liquid storage is paramount. Your staff (particularly those responsible for WH&S) need to be fully aware of, and pay close attention to, the flash points of fuels. To get you started, in the next section we’ve collated some common examples of flammable liquids and their flash points, from lowest to highest.
Examples of flammable goods with flash points below 0.
You need to treat these flammable goods with extreme care, as they can ignite at any temperature. Most of the time a secure, temperature controlled environment is required to prevent fires and explosions.
Flash point of Petrol
Petrol has a flash point of -43°C. Needless to say, a great deal of care must be taken in storing petrol. Firstly, store it in a building away from your main residence or place of business. Secondly, lock it in a chemical storage container or flammable cabinet so that it can’t be accessed by anyone without your prior knowledge. Lastly, if you are transferring petrol from a tank to a vehicle, always do so outside where the vapours can escape into the air.
Flash point of Acetone
Acetone is another example of a flammable liquid with a very low flash point at -20°C. Above this temperature it can take just 2.5% of acetone in the air to cause an explosion. So, needless to say, a temperature controlled environment is optimal. Metal or glass containers are best for storing acetone, or if using plastic choose a Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) container for longer term storage.
Flash point of Benzene
Benzene’s flash point sits at a chilly -12°C, so it’s highly flammable. It needs to be stored in a cool, dry area with good access to ventilation. Inhalation of benzene fumes has been linked to blood disorders such as anemia and leukemia, so beware of inadequate storage and prolonged exposure. Hazchem experts recommend storing benzene in a flammable liquids storage cabinet that complies with AS1940-2017.
Examples of flammable goods with flash points close to room temperature.
Flash point of Ethanol
The flash point of ethanol is 16.6°C, which is likely to be just below room temperature. Whenever using ethanol, make sure you do so in a well-ventilated area. Store it in a cool, dry spot and make sure that that area also has adequate ventilation in case of any vapour leaks.
Flash point of Methanol
Methanol’s flash point is between 11 and 12°C. Store it somewhere cool, dry and make sure it’s clearly labelled as toxic and flammable. Try to keep methanol away from electrical equipment where possible and keep the tank it’s stored in grounded.
Flash point of Kerosene
Kerosene’s flash point sits right on the boundary for flammable fuels at 38°C. For ease of identification kerosene should be stored in a blue plastic container - using metal containers can cause contamination. Containers should always be clean and tightly sealed.
Examples of flammable goods with higher flash points.
Flash point of Diesel
Ranging from 52° to 96°, diesel’s flash point is considered high enough to be non-flammable in most environments (hence its use in compression-ignition engines). However it still requires careful storage and safety. Diesel should be clearly labelled and marked with a ‘Combustible Liquid C1’ tag. We recommend Lubemasta cabinets for simultaneous storage and dispensing of diesel.
Flash point of Biodiesel
Biodiesel’s flash point of 130°C makes it relatively stable. It should be stored in a cool, dry place, but be warned that biodiesel typically has a shelf life of 3-6 months – so use it quickly, or be sure to check whether it’s been contaminated.
Flash point of Lube Oil
The flash point of lube oil is around the 187°C mark, rendering it relatively inflammable. However, it still needs to be stored carefully. Again, somewhere cool and dry is your best bet. If possible, store it on bunds in a horizontal position – and always make sure it’s clearly labelled.
Regardless of the flash point of your flammable liquids, hazardous goods storage always needs to be taken seriously. As a rule of thumb, store materials in cool, dry, ventilated and secure areas.
To quickly work out if your dangerous goods storage systems are safe and compliant, download our free Outdoor Dangerous Goods Storage Checklist. Click on the image below to get started.👇