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Warnings over possible combustion from hand sanitizer lead to controversy

Have you seen the rumor online about the possible dangers of hand sanitizer on a hot day?

It caught on enough that a Waukesha County Fire Department, and several others gave a warning not to leave hand sanitizer alone in hot cars.

The Western Lakes Fire District posted a picture showing a burned-out car door explaining most hand sanitizers are alcohol-based, making them flammable.

Back in April, The National Fire Protection Association Director Guy Colonna explained it is possible that hand sanitizer could catch fire.

"Once those vapors concentrate in those right proportions along with fuel vapors with the oxygen in the air, then the only thing that is missing is an viable ignition source," said Colonna.


However, The Poynter Institute of Media Studies reported this hoax first appeared in Thailand, but eventually spread to Costa Rica and Brazil.

According to Poynter, La NaciĆ³n, a Coasta Rican fact checking network discovered that while car fires are not infrequent in Costa Rica, there have been no reports of hand sanitizer causing them.

Poynter reported that AFP Thailand's fact-check used a reverse-image search and found the video was actually from 2015

The image used in the Thai post, matched the one used by the fire department, the fire was attributed to two Saudis setting their door ablaze with an aerosol can and a lighter. There doesn't appear to have been any hand sanitizer present.

Fact checkers in Brazil found that a car would need to reach an internal temperature above 300 degrees Celsius or 572 degrees Fahrenheit to cause hand sanitizer to combust.

study conducted by Arizona State University looking at cars parked in triple-digit summer heat found temperatures topped out around 160 F. 


Story By: Zack White


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