Because of the coronavirus pandemic, people are using Lysol, anti-bacterial wipes, gloves, anti-bacterial spray, mask, and hand sanitizer more than ever. But with the summer months approaching, is the hand sanitizer safe to leave in the car?
Per the New York Post, the Western Lakes Fire District of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, recently created a post claiming that if hand sanitizer was left in a car, it could explode. The post read, “By its nature, most hand sanitizer is alcohol-based and therefore flammable. Keeping it in your car during hot weather, exposing it to sun causing magnification of light through the bottle — and particularly being next to open flame while smoking in vehicles or grilling while enjoying this weekend — can lead to disaster.” They also posted a photo of a car door that supposedly melted due to the liquid.
Afterward, the company was called out for their post and asked to show evidence that this was accurate. They responded to the various requests, writing, “We thankfully have not and are doing our best to keep it that way. We would also champion you searching your most trusted and enjoyed sources for more information.” Their post was later deleted.
Because the response was vague, one citizen reached out to the National Fire Protection Association to clarify the situation. They responded with, “The vapors generated at the flashpoint of hand sanitizer discussed in this video still require an ignition source (like a flame from a candle) to cause the vapors being released by the liquid to ignite. For it to spontaneously combust with no other, external ignition source other than self-heating alone, you’d have to reach over 700 degrees F!”
Snopes also backs up this claim and added, “One of the major fears that people had after encountering this rumor on social media was that their hand sanitizer was going to ‘spontaneously combust’ if left too long in a hot car. We won’t say that this is impossible, but we will say that it is extremely unlikely.”