A pinch of glitter can make everything look good be it a DIY project, make-up products, or scented candles. However, before you go ahead and add glitter to candle wax, you might wonder ‘is glitter flammable?’
Yes, most glitters are flammable as they contain volatile plastics or metals. Besides, the small size of the glitter particles offers a greater surface area for the oxygen atoms to react and burn when ignited. Typically, regular craft glitters are flammable at 100°C or 212°F.
Now the question is how glitters burn, are all glitters flammable, and whether it’s safe to use glitter on candles. Let’s dive into the details and find out.
Does Glitter Burn?
Yes, most glitters burn upon coming in contact with an open flame at 100°C or higher temperature. Thankfully, there are some safe, non-flammable glitters that you can use without worrying about catching fire.
Below are the details of different glitter types and their flammability.
1. Craft Glitter
Typically made of highly flammable plastic, craft glitters can easily burn at 225°F or higher temperature. Some craft glitters are made of metals like aluminum or shiny alloy.
This type of glitter will also burn. Although flammable, polyester-made craft glitters can withstand a higher temperature (up to 350°F) than plastic- or metal-made ones.
2. Crystal or Finer Glass Glitter
As the name suggests, this type of glitter consists of fine glass particles. Glass is a non-flammable material, so crystal glitter doesn’t burn in high heat.
3. Cosmetic Glitter
Also known as Mica Powder, cosmetic glitter is more of a metallic shimmer used in make-up products. This type of glitter is non-toxic and non-flammable.
4. Edible Glitter
As edible glitter is made of sugar or other plant starch, it doesn’t burn easily. Yet, it’s not recommended to use edible glitters on candles as they might melt and burn in excessive heat.
5. Biodegradable Glitter
This is probably the safest glitter to use if you’re worried about fire hazards. Bioglitter is produced from vegetable starch and it’s fully natural and non-flammable.
What Makes Glitter Flammable?
It’s the physical and chemical properties such as starch, sugar, metals and plastic of glitter which make it highly flammable. Most of these particles can’t stand high temperature.
Thus, when they come in contact with heat (above their flashpoint) they cause fire. However, here are the reasons why glitters catch on fire:
Made of Flammable Materials
As discussed above, there are many different types of glitters made of materials like plastic, metals, sugar, or plant-based starch. The craft glitters you’ll find in a regular store are most probably produced from plastic, paper, or metal.
Tiny particles of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethene terephthalate (PET) plastic are used in these glitters, which can’t withstand temperatures more than 280°F.
Similarly, paper- or metal-made glitters also burn at low temperatures. Glitters that are made of any other non-flammable sources (Glass, sugar, starch) won’t burn if stored properly.
Large Surface Area
Metal or PVC plastic is fire-resistant to some extent. So, why do they burn when turned into glitters? The small size of the plastic or metal particles is the reason.
Tiny glitter particles have an increased fuel-to-oxygen ratio which offers a larger surface area for environmental oxygen.
As a result, the glitter molecules offer more fuel for oxygen to burn near an open flame. This way, glitter starts burning upon coming in contact with fire.
When a huge bulk of glitter is stored in a closed room, this might lead to a dust explosion. Small glitter particles that mix with the environmental oxygen work as a great fuel.
If the room has enough oxygen and no airflow to sweep the glitter dust away, even the smallest spark can lead to a dangerous dust explosion. This type of incident is more likely to happen in an industrial area as they store large bulks of flammable glitter.
What Happens When You Burn Glitter?
If glitter catches fire and starts burning, it will melt first. The high heat passes energy to the glitter atoms and creates vibration. Eventually, the atomic bond becomes weaker and the molecules start to separate.
After melting, the glitter will slowly turn into gas, where the atoms have little to no bonding among them. As a result, the atoms easily react with oxygen molecules and produce energy in the form of light and fire.
Is It Safe to Put Glitter in Candles?
In general, it’s not recommended to add glitter to candles at all. Yet, the type of glitter you’re using, its materials, and fire resistance will decide whether it’s safe to use glitter in candles or not.
Flammable glitters made of plastic, paper, or aluminum can’t be used in candles as they are considered potential fire hazards. When you mix flammable glitters in candle wax, they will catch fire and burn different areas of the candles.
The glitter affects the quality and properties of the candle. However, if you’re willing to mix glitter with candle wax, you can go for non-flammable options like crystal glitter, cosmetic glitter, and glitter.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can glitter be heated?
Yes, glitter can be heated, but you can’t raise the temperature higher than 100°C or 212°F. Some might withstand up to 280°F. Polyester glitters can be heated at 350°F. In any case, the glitter will start melting at high temperatures.
2. Is glitter toxic to burn?
If the glitter is made of PET or other plastics, it will emit toxic fumes. The fume irritates the lungs and creates breathing difficulties. It also emits greenhouse gases that are harmful to the environment.
3. Is glitter toxic to the skin?
High-quality cosmetic glitters are made of non-toxic materials that won’t irritate your skin. However, cheap plastic glitters might cause itching or rash.
In this write-up, we’ve discussed whether is glitter flammable. There are both flammable and non-flammable glitters available on the marketplace.
Typically, it’s best to go for the non-flammable options as this is the safest route. To avoid fire hazards, be sure to check out the label to see if there are any flammable ingredients added to the glitter.
Also, avoid taking the glitter near an open flame if you have safety concerns.