The Difference Between Flammable and Combustible Materials Explained
Do you know the difference between flammable materials and combustible materials? If your workplace handles flammable and combustible materials, it’s essential that you do understand the difference between the two types of materials in order to understand the risks surrounding their use and storage. If you are confused about how to distinguish one from the other, don’t worry, in this blog, we will cover the differences in order to help you keep your business safe.
Officially, The National Fire Protection Association defines the different classes of flammable and combustible liquids in its Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code, also known as NFPA 30. However, if you don’t happen to have their NFPA 30 to hand, the difference between flammable and combustible materials can be simply defined by the specific temperature, also known as a ‘flashpoint’, they must be exposed to for them to set on fire.
Generally speaking, materials defined as ‘flammable’ will ignite at a lower temperature than those defined as ‘combustible’ when exposed to an ignition source. However, the flashpoint can differ between materials. This means that there are certain flashpoint thresholds that separate flammable materials from combustible ones.
As a general rule, any material that has a flashpoint of a temperature below 37.8°C is considered flammable, which is why flammable materials are considered much more of a risk in the workplace, as it isn’t likely that temperatures will exceed 37.8°C in the workplace. In addition to this, flammables can also become more dangerous as they are also more likely to form vapours in work environments due to their lower flashpoints.
Alternatively, materials with a flashpoint between 37.8°C and 93.3°C are considered to be combustible. Examples of these include; wood, paper, rubber, and plastics.