is cornstarch flammable or combustible ? does it catch fire?

Use it like gravy, binder, or marinades, cornstarch has varied uses in the kitchen. It is a popular ingredient that is used extensively for cooking, pharmaceutical, and industrial purposes as well. After all these years of using it, you have this query is cornstarch flammable?

To be honest, I have to say that yes cornstarch is flammable. It can ignite and can even explode if the cornstarch powder gets in contact with air.

I will explain all that in a while in detail. For now, just understand this part. and no, please do not throw away all the cornstarch that you may have.

What Is Cornstarch?

is cornstarch flammable or combustible

Let me start by saying cornstarch is not cornflour. Both are derived from corn or maize, but they differ in their profiles. Colloquially, the two may mean the same, but they are different. It was discovered in 1844 in the state of New Jersey and was soon picked up by countries that produce corn, like India, China, the USA, and Brazil.

Now, what is cornstarch in specific? Cornstarch is obtained from a tissue of the corn kernel or seed. It is known as the endosperm. It is used in its powdered form and this may pose some threat to the work environment.

In the food industry, it is the most popular thickening agent that makes gravies, sauces, and soups tastier. Of course, you can use to it marinade and as a binding agent. As far as its other uses are concerned, it is used in medicine to supply glucose to those that cannot store glycogen in their system. Again, it is used as adhesives, in textiles, and even on paper.

Is Cornstarch Combustible?

You need cornstarch from wood processing, in pharmaceuticals to cooking. It is a versatile powder that is a need of many industries. However, I have to acknowledge it here that it is a combustible substance. In fact, cornstarch is an ST1 dust category combustible substance.

Now, the next question is what is ST1 dust? The ST1 dust is something that is adequate enough to start a flare. This is quite serious and in large amounts can also blow the walls of a building.

So, by now you know how dangerous it can be. I thought it to be sensible enough to bring it up. No one talks about and the scattered information makes everyone apprehensive. Hence, I took it into my hands and sought clarification. Here is all of that for you.

Why Is Corn Starch Flammable?

In one word, the answer has to be in the affirmative. Yes, cornstarch is very much flammable, like any other dust that poses a fire hazard. The same goes for flour and even sugar powder (I think I heard you shriek). Ahem, that is right.

The big question is why is cornstarch flammable? To comprehend that you need to know one basic thing and that is cornstarch is much like carbohydrates and wood. It will ignite when suspended in the air. The reason is starch molecules can ignite relatively faster than most substances you have come across.

The logical deduction of the whole thing is that the ratio of the oxygen to the surface area gets changed quickly which causes the ignition. This may make sense to you when we cite this example of an accident in Taiwan in 2015.

There was a water park in New Taiwan that witnessed the burning of cornstarch powder in small amounts. Now, the staff used CO2 extinguishers to put it out, only to make it worse. The park turned into an inferno, killing 15 people, and injuring 508 more. All this happened within seconds!

This is why I say that you have to be careful with cornstarch. You must store it in a closed container or keep it sealed. Stock it in a cool and dark place for additional safety. While using it make sure that you use it away from a heating source. Also, ensure that you work in a ventilated place to avoid any flyaways.

What Temperature Does Cornstarch Catch Fire?

Cornstarch can be cooked to 95 °C or 203°F. After this, it starts to thicken and the food will start to turn opaque. This is about cornstarch getting heated when cooking. As far as burning is considered, cornstarch usually burns at a higher temperature.

What Are The Chemical Hazards Of Starch?

Like any other fine dust particle, starch is also combustible. It burns in the air is present in sufficient amounts. Starch comprises two chains of polymer– amylopectin, and amylose.

You will be surprised to know that it can cause some chemical hazards. Yes, I know you are totally unaware of it and this is the reason for composing this post. Here are some of the dangers that come along with starch:

  • Can cause some serious skin irritation if it gets in contact with bare skin
  • It can also create itchiness in the digestive tract if inhaled
  • Again, if you have inhaled it, you may experience respiratory tract soreness
  • Starch can also adversely affect your eyes if they get into them

Follow these safety measures to keep yourself safe from these chemical hazards. I have learned of a few, here they are:

  • Always make sure that you are working safely with starch in the kitchen
  • Make sure you do not work too close to burners
  • Avoid throwing them in the air, even accidentally
  • If using it for industrial use, I would recommend you to wear proper safety gear, like gloves, eyewear, and covered clothes all the time
  • Prevent it from getting in contact with your skin
  • Wash it off right away if it gets into your eyes or skin with water

Also Read: Check out our other article about Is Resin Flammable Or Combustible?

Does Cornstarch Melt When Heated?

Cornstarch is obtained from maize or corn by grinding corn kernels. The starch thus produced is used for cooking, woodworking, paper making, and pharmaceuticals. So, its uses are wide-ranging and the truth is it can melt when heated. It starts to melt at 256 to 258°C or 492.8°F to 496.4°F.

What happens when you add water and heat to cornstarch? The starch granules in it can increase its viscosity and size. In due course, it starts to form a gel or paste-like formation. This helps to thicken the gravy when cooking and is used as an adhesive for industrial purposes. In the pharmaceutical industry, it is primarily used as a dusting powder.

Is Tapioca Starch Flammable?

Is Tapioca Starch Flammable

Tapioca Starch is an important raw material that is used for the cooking, pharmaceutical, candy, beverage, and cosmetic industries. Nonetheless, I have to admit here that it is flammable. It can burn intensely and leaves a yellow flame on burning.

The fact is, it has a low ignition point. Again, like any powder dust can cause an explosion if suspended in the right amount into the air. I have to disclose that it can cause dust explosion if not handled with care.

What Is The Boiling Point Of Starch?

To be precise, the boiling point of starch is 100°C or 212°F. Amylum or starch is a product made from several units of glucose. These bonds are known as glycosidic bonds. In pure form, it is an odorless, white, and tasteless powder that is found in abundance in corn (maize), wheat, potatoes, and tapioca.

Don’t worry and make the yummiest of dishes with cornstarch as you do. The question is cornstarch combustible was raised as a genuine lack of information on this topic. I thought I will take the initiative and clarify it all.

I hope you have liked this discussion so far and I would request you to share anything that you can about this topic. I want the community to get in-depth knowledge about fire hazards and more. I will be explaining all that in my upcoming posts. Take care till then. Ciao!

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