Is crude oil flammable? Does crude oil burn easily? Why?

Crude oil is a liquid oil that collects in porous rock formations throughout the Earth’s crust and is collected for use as a fuel or to be processed into chemical compounds.

Crude oil is a mixture of somewhat volatile liquid hydrocarbons with a dash of nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen for good measure. These components combine to form several complex structures, many of which are hard to recognize.

Crude oil is extremely flammable as flashpoint is very low, considerable caution should be exercised when handling it. Carelessness might lead to massive harm to human beings and surrounding properties.

Also Read: Check out our other article about  What To Do If Petrol Catches Fire?

Is crude oil flammable?

Is Crude Oil Flammable 2

Yes, crude oil is so very flammable. Specific chemical flammability refers to its ability to combust or ignite, resulting in fire or combustion. Benzene and n-hexane can be found in varying concentrations in crude oil. It is one of the critical reasons for crude oil to be so flammable.

How to mitigate oil-based fire?

As crude oil is exceedingly combustible, fire is a typical occurrence. When we witness a fire starting, we notice that everyone is using water to put it out. Could we do the same if a crude oil fire breaks out?

Obviously, NO. You may wonder why right?

It also has a valid explanation. Water rolls down because it is heavier than oil, allowing the crude oil to float to the top and burn. As a result, water will be unable to extinguish the crude oil fire and bring it to a halt.

Note: Never use water to extinguish a crude oil fire.

List of different types of crude oil and their flammability

The flammability of crude oils usually depends on the oil’s volatile compounds. The flashpoint of a substance determines its flammability. Lower the flashpoint, the higher the flammability is.

The crude oil can be divided into three classes according to their flammability.

The chart below shows the flammability of three different classes of crude oil with examples.

Classes of crude oilFlammabilityExamples
Class- I (A)below 73°FDiethyl ether
Class- II (B)below 73°FBenzene
Class- III (C)Between 73°F -100°FP-xylene

Which is safer? pipeline or rail to transport crude oil?

Crude oil is a dangerous substance. Therefore, it is critical to transport crude oil safely. Handling the oil carelessly could result in significant mishaps.

There is ample evidence that carrying crude oil via pipelines is safer than alternative methods. Many individuals were put in danger due to spills, derailments, and explosions through rails in cities and suburbs.

The railway is the most used mode of transportation for carrying oil. But, it possesses some risks. Many accidents are occurring while transporting oil via railways.

Also Read: Is Nitrogen Explosive Or Flammable?

Under which circumstances crude oil can explode?

Crude oil is highly flammable and can erupt at any time, causing massive destruction.

Let us see few phases for which crude oil can explode vigorously.

  • Because of the massive volume of oil stored, fire is always the most likely cause of an explosion.
  • Oil and its byproducts are incredibly combustible, and all workers are at risk if a minor spark ignites them.

Did you know? An empty tank can cause an explosion too. Why? A full tank does not have enough vapor space to allow for an explosive environment. The gasses from the previous load fill the empty tank, causing an explosion in an empty tank.

Will crude oil explode?

Yes, crude oil can explode as the oil is extremely flammable. It can explode, triggered by different factors. For example, oil can catch fire from the manufacturer base while transporting and even at the consumer level.

That’s why we need to know about the flammability of crude oil.

When an accident occurs, it will almost always result in serious physical harm and property damage. As a result, fires and explosions is especially vital at the crude oil storage and transport facilities.

Oil, in little amounts and with good management, is pretty safe. It is, nevertheless, volatile and can emit flammable fumes. That is to say, mismanagement of oil can create a massive explosion.

What’s the flashpoint of crude oil?

The flashpoint of crude oil is below 100.0 °F, making the oil extremely flammable.

Now, you might be wondering what the term “flashpoint” actually implies. So, an oil’s flashpoint is the lowest temperature at which a liquid generates a vapor in the air around its surface that will “flash,” or burn quickly when exposed to an open flame.

Note: The flash point of an oil or any liquid is a general indicator of its flammability or combustibility.

Is Crude Oil Flammable 3

Is coconut oil flammable?

Yes, coconut oil is flammable. To be clear, coconut oil, including olive oil, vegetable oil, and all other cooking oils, is flammable. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t cook with them. However, it does imply that we should use caution when cooking with oil.

The coconut oil has a flashpoint of 563 degrees Fahrenheit and a smoke point of roughly 385 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coconut oil burns so well that it can even be used to ignite a fire for any other working purposes.

Does crude oil burn easily? Why?

Yes, crude oil can burn easily. The oil is usually burned for energy, releasing toxic gases and high amounts of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas, a significant environmental threat.

Reasons for burning of crude oil-

  • Oil is burned to heat water and produce steam, which is then used to generate electricity.
  • Oil is burned under pressure, resulting in hot exhaust gases that spin a turbine, generating energy.

Crude oil combustion is extremely harmful to the environment because burning releases greenhouse emissions.

Why does Bakken crude oil contain more flammable components?

Bakken crude oil is a sweet, light crude oil that is highly flammable. The flashpoint of this crude is low. Bakken oil is a relatively high-quality oil that is easier to process into commercial products but can get easily ignited.

Hydrogen sulfide is a very caustic and hazardous gas found in high amounts in some Bakken oil deposits. This makes the oil more flammable and dangerous than any other crude oil.

The Bakken crude oil was also expected to contain Toluene, Xylene, Benzene, and Hexane, causing this particular crude oil to be more flammable.

All the above explanations show why Bakken crude oil contains more flammable components than any other crude oil.

Bakken oil has a flashpoint of 95″ F, making it a flammable fluid, according to a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) published by Cenovus Energy.


Every substance has advantages and disadvantages. Crude oil is not an exception.

After it has been refined, the oil can be used in various ways in our daily lives. Carelessness, on the other hand, can result in catastrophic devastation.

As crude oil is highly and dangerously flammable, it is important to stay cautious while using it.