Owning a vehicle means frequent maintenance to keep everything functional. And windshield cleaning is an integral part of the process.
However, you must stay cautious about the hazards the work may possess. That’s where you must give windshield washer fluid some space.
One common question related to its use is – is windshield washer fluid flammable? Well, let’s keep going to find a clear-cut answer.
Can Windshield Washer Fluid Catch Fire?
The answer is simple – The fluid is flammable enough to require must-have safety measures.
However, the fact is true for commercial fluids. Many enthusiastic DIYers use homemade fluids from different cleaning materials. Then the question of fire hazards becomes dependent on the ingredients.
The chemical cleaner possesses potential health and explosion with slight reactivity hazards.
A fire breaking out in a windshield washer is lethal, dangerous, and concerning. That’s where there are well-established regulations on commercially used fluids.
Why is Windshield Washer Fluid Flammable?
The primary chemical compound to causes the combustion is methanol or methyl alcohol. In fact, the compound makes up nearly 30% to 50% of the fluid alone.
Also, other types of organic compounds are available in the fluid’s composition. And some of the ingredients may contribute to methanol’s overall flammability.
Not to mention, the methanol-rich windshield washer is highly concentrated. This heavy concentration can even lead to an explosion if the container itself catches fire.
Functions of Methanol in Windshield Washer:
Are you thinking of washing liquids without involving methanol? Unfortunately, no option is currently available without containing methanol in them.
Methyl alcohol takes a direct part in dissolving the oily film and sticky grime. Your windshield is prone to more than just loose dirt while moving on roads.
And normal soapy water or tap water isn’t good enough for absolute cleaning. That’s why you’ll have to utilize the flammable washing fluid now and then.
The chemical ingredient prevents the composition from getting frozen. It remains usable inside the tube, container, and windshield because of methanol.
Are Homemade Windshield Washers Flammable?
You can find many motivating recipes on DIY windshield washers online. And it won’t take you much to prepare a usable cleaning mixture.
However, homemade cleaners are not as powerful as commercial ones. You shouldn’t even expect a satisfactory cleaning all the time.
Still, you can take chances with the less-powerful and less-effective liquids. And the overall flammability will depend on the used ingredients.
Involvement of alcohol in your recipe means greater chances of combustion. But the diluted mix is one positive side to avoiding fire hazards.
How Windshield Washer Fluid Catches Fire?
The average flashpoint of the washer is about 108°F or 42°C for commercial ones. Therefore, its flashing temp appears considerably low.
However, the auto-ignition temperature counts 730°F – 878°F or 388°C – 470°C. So, it’s pretty unlikely for the fluid to catch fire by itself.
In the meantime, the measured flammability limits range from 6% to 36%. All the temps and the range tend to vary based on compositions.
When the washer gets heat, the alcohol starts to get evaporated. But the evaporation rate can become too fast for the methyl alcohol.
And the disruption in temperature causes the fluid to become very hot. The fumes & remaining alcohol will ignite past the flashpoint.
Vapors may travel to a specific source of ignition and eventually flashback. The vapor remains active indoors, outdoor, and in sewers.
Extinguishing Measures for Fire Breakout:
Move all the containers and bottles away from the site to a secure distance. It includes all kinds of washing fluids and other chemical agents.
You can apply carbon dioxide, water spray, or alcohol-resistant foam for any small fire. Meantime, know your dry chemical’s action to put out the fire.
Still, you’re free to use water spray, fog, or alcohol-resistant foam for larger fires. Don’t throw anything chemical without knowing its effectiveness.
Carefully apply cooling water to the containers/bottles on fire. Also, dike the fire-control water for later disposal without scattering the material.
Hazard Symbols on Windshield Washer Label:
Marketed fluids are flammable and require careful handling, transportation, and storage. You can easily figure out its combustibility from the container label.
Almost all commercial features a burning fire confined to an octagonal box. The octagonal box itself implies potential danger from a specific issue.
And the fire simply indicates the product contained or its fumes can catch flames. The flame can also be boxed by a triangle (caution) or a rhombus (warning).
Chances are good to find the well-known skull alongside the boxed flame. This one reveals its extremely poisonous chemical mixture to cause health issues.
Preventing Windshield Cleaner from Ignition:
Taking caution while using the chemical is always the best way. Cleaning your windshield in an open space can obviously help.
Always keep the fluids in a dry, locked, and secure place. Likewise, have the fluid out of children’s and pets’ reach at all costs.
Maintain a subtle distance from notably high heat, burning flames, or sparks. Avoid using any electrical device while using the fluid.
Handle the washer-containing bottle or container with great care. Look for any damaged section to result in leaks or spills.
Clean the spills and the washing space immediately after completion. Using soapy or only tap water can suffice the cleanup.
Another great way to reduce the fire hazard concerns dilution. Adding a sufficient amount of water reduces the flammability.
Additional Risks Involved with Washer Fluid:
Even the diluted washer has significant health hazards, if not a fire hazard. It’s irritant to the eyes, skin, and upper respiratory system.
And severe inhalation or exposure will lead to health issues. The symptoms include – headache, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting.
Wearing gloves can protect your skin from direct exposure. Also, gearing up a gas mask can save your breath from its toxicity.
Keep a distance while fighting the windshield washer fluid fire. Or, wear protective suits to avoid direct skin contact/inhalation.
We hope to cover everything satisfactorily – is the windshield washer fluid flammable.
The concentrated, poisonous, combustible chemical agent always requires careful handling. And keep all the possible sources of ignition away while using the liquid.
Neglecting the safety measures can cost you dearly from many different aspects.