Is Lighter Fluid Flammable? Unlocking the Truth

Are you curious about the properties of lighter fluid? Maybe you’re wondering if it’s safe for your next backyard barbecue or camping trip.

Whether you’re an experienced outdoor enthusiast or a curious home cook, understanding the characteristics of lighter fluid can help you make informed decisions about using it safely and effectively.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the properties of lighter fluid and answer some common questions about its flammability and other important considerations.

So please sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of lighter fluid.

What Is Lighter Fluid?

Lighter fluid, or lighter fuel, is a volatile liquid substance used to ignite fires, particularly in portable devices such as lighters and camping stoves.

It is a highly flammable liquid that is specifically formulated to provide an easily combustible fuel source for starting fires.

The composition of lighter fluid can vary slightly depending on the brand and specific product, but it is typically composed of a mixture of hydrocarbon solvents.

Common ingredients in lighter fluids include petroleum distillates such as naphtha, isopropyl alcohol, and other volatile organic compounds.

Lighter fluid is designed to have a low flashpoint, which vaporizes easily and ignites quickly when exposed to an open flame or spark.

This makes it ideal for lighting devices such as lighters, where a small amount of fluid is applied to a wick or ignition mechanism and ignited to produce a flame.

Is Lighter Fluid Flammable?

The short answer is yes; lighter fluid is highly flammable and should be used cautiously.  Lighter fluid, or charcoal lighter fluid, is a petroleum-based product that ignites charcoal briquettes or wood chips.

It is highly flammable and can easily ignite with a spark or flame. Lighter fluid has a flash point of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which can ignite at room temperature.

It is important to use lighter fluid safely. When using lighter fluid, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Please do not use more than the recommended amount of lighter fluid, and never add it to a fire that has already been started.

When using lighter fluid, it is best to use a long-stemmed lighter or a long match to ignite the fluid. This will help prevent any accidents or injuries.

Is Lighter Fluid Flammable

Keeping lighter fluid out of reach of children and pets is also important. The fumes from lighter fluid can be harmful if inhaled, and ingesting lighter fluid can be fatal.

If you accidentally spill lighter fluid, do not light the fire until the area is completely dry. The fumes from the lighter fluid can ignite and cause a dangerous fire.

Is Lighter Fluid Flammable After It Dries?

Lighter fluid is generally not flammable after it has completely dried. When lighter fluid is exposed to air, it evaporates, leaving minimal residue.

The volatile components in the lighter fluid, which are responsible for its flammability, evaporate relatively quickly.

Once the lighter fluid has fully evaporated, the remaining residue is typically non-flammable.

However, it’s important to note that the exact composition of lighter fluid can vary among different brands, so it’s always a good idea to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or safety data sheets for specific information regarding the flammability of a particular lighter fluid product.

What Is Lighter Fluid Made Of?

Lighter fluid is typically made of hydrocarbon solvents derived from petroleum distillates.

The exact composition can vary depending on the brand and specific product, but here are some common ingredients found in lighter fluid:

Naphtha: Naphtha is a flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture that is commonly used as a fuel source. It has a low flashpoint and evaporates quickly, making it ideal for use in lighter fluids.

Isopropyl Alcohol: Also known as rubbing alcohol, isopropyl alcohol is a volatile solvent that helps facilitate the combustion of lighter fluid.

It aids in the rapid evaporation of the fluid, making it easier to ignite.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Lighter fluid may contain other volatile organic compounds, such as butane, pentane, or hexane. These compounds are highly flammable and contribute to the overall combustibility of the fluid.

Additives: Some lighter fluid formulations may include additives to enhance certain properties.

For example, corrosion inhibitors may be added to protect the metal components of lighters from rust or degradation.

Is Lighter Fluid The Same As Kerosene

Lighter fluid and kerosene are similar in some ways, but they are not exactly the same. While both substances are flammable and can be used as fuels, they differ in composition, properties, and intended uses.

Lighter fluid, or charcoal lighter fluid, is a petroleum-based product designed to ignite charcoal briquettes, wood chips, or other fire-starting materials used in grills. It is highly flammable and should be used with caution.

Kerosene is a fuel oil widely used for heating and lighting purposes. It is less flammable than lighter fluid and is commonly used in kerosene lamps, space heaters, and stoves.

So, while both lighter fluid and kerosene are derived from petroleum, they have different properties and should not be used interchangeably. Here are some key differences between the two:

Flammability: Lighter fluid is highly flammable and burns quickly, making it ideal for starting fires. Kerosene, on the other hand, is less flammable and burns more slowly and evenly.

Odor: Lighter fluid has a strong and distinct odor, which can be unpleasant and overpowering. Kerosene has a milder odor that is less noticeable.

Cost: Lighter fluid is generally less expensive than kerosene, but it is also less versatile.

Uses: Lighter fluid is primarily used for igniting charcoal and other fire-starting materials for grills. Kerosene is used for heating and lighting and powering certain types of engines and machinery.

Safety: Lighter fluid should be used cautiously, as it is highly flammable and can cause serious burns or fires if not handled properly. Kerosene is also flammable, but it is less dangerous than lighter fluid.

Flashpoint Of Lighter Fluid

The flashpoint of lighter fluid can vary depending on the specific formulation and brand.

However, in general, lighter fluid has a relatively low flashpoint. Flashpoint is the lowest temperature at which a substance gives off enough vapor to ignite when exposed to an ignition source like an open flame.

Most commercially available lighter fluids have a flashpoint of approximately -40 to 0 degrees Celsius (-40 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit).

The specific flashpoint may be indicated on the packaging or in the product’s safety data sheet (SDS).

Because of its low flashpoint, lighter fluid vaporizes quickly and is easily ignited. This property makes it highly flammable and suitable for use in devices like lighters and camping stoves, where a small amount of fluid needs to ignite rapidly to produce a flame.

Problems Problems Problems Solution
Petroleum-Based Naphtha, Petroleum Distillates < 0°F (-18°C) Lighting fireplaces, grills, campfires, candles
Butane-Based Butane, Flammable Solvents -22°F (-30°C) Lighting butane lighters, camping stoves
Zippo Lighter Fluid Petroleum Distillates, Naptha < 0°F (-18°C) Igniting Zippo lighters, outdoor fire pits
Multi-Fuel Various solvents and fuel sources Varies Compatible with different types of fuel-burning devices
Odorless Petroleum Distillates, Additives < 0°F (-18°C) Preferred for reduced odor during lighting

Please note that specific formulations may vary among different brands and regions. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for the specific lighter fluid you are using.

Is Lighter Fluid Toxic

The short answer is yes. Lighter fluid is toxic to inhale. This is because most lighter fluids contain petroleum distillates, volatile organic compounds that can harm both humans and animals.

Inhaling these compounds can cause various health problems, from minor irritation to serious respiratory issues.

Exposure to lighter fluid fumes can cause coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

Prolonged exposure can lead to more severe symptoms, including lung damage and death.

It is important to note that the effects of lighter fluid inhalation can vary depending on the amount and duration of exposure and the individual’s overall health.

Is Lighter Fluid Toxic To Cats And Dogs?

Pets, particularly cats and dogs, are also at risk of inhaling lighter fluid fumes. Ingestion of lighter fluid can cause gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Inhaling lighter fluid fumes can cause similar symptoms to those experienced by humans, such as coughing, difficulty breathing, and lung damage.

It is important to keep lighter fluid out of pets’ reach and never use it near them. Even small amounts of lighter fluid can be harmful to pets, so it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid exposing them to it altogether.

Lighter Fluid Hazards

Like any flammable substance, lighter fluid presents certain hazards if not handled and used properly. Here are some potential hazards associated with lighter fluid:

Fire and Burns: Lighter fluid is highly flammable and can easily ignite if exposed to an open flame, spark, or heat source. Mishandling or improper use of lighter fluid can lead to fires, causing burns to individuals and property damage.

Inhalation and Health Risks: Lighter fluid vapors can be harmful if inhaled in excessive amounts or for prolonged periods. Inhalation of the vapors may irritate the respiratory system and can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, or even more severe health effects.

Environmental Impact: Improper disposal or accidental spills of lighter fluid can have negative effects on the environment. Lighter fluid is considered hazardous and should not be disposed of in drains, sewers, or natural bodies of water.

Volatile Nature: Lighter fluid is volatile, meaning it can easily evaporate and form flammable vapors even at room temperature.

This makes it important to store lighter fluid in appropriate containers in a cool, well-ventilated area away from heat sources and open flames.

Uses Of Lighter Fluid

Lighter fluid has several common uses, primarily around igniting fires or providing a flammable fuel source. Here are some of the main uses of lighter fluid:

Lighting Charcoal: Lighter fluid is often used to ignite charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal in grills.

It helps to quickly start the fire and get the grill up to cooking temperature faster.

Starting Fireplaces and Fire Pits: Lighter fluid ignites fires in fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and outdoor fire pits. It helps to start the fire and establish a steady flame quickly.

Igniting Campfires and Bonfires: When starting a campfire or a bonfire, lighter fluid can be used to speed up the process of getting the fire started.

It helps to ignite the tinder and small branches, making it easier to build a larger fire.

Lighting Candles and Oil Lamps: Lighter fluid can be used to light candles or fuel-based oil lamps. It helps to ignite the wick and establish a steady flame quickly.

Starting Outdoor Stoves and Lanterns: Many outdoor camping stoves and lanterns use a liquid fuel source, and lighter fluid can prime and ignite these devices.

It helps to start the initial flame and prepare the stove or lantern.

Emergency Fire Starting: Lighter fluid can be used as a fire starter in emergencies when traditional fire-starting methods are unavailable.

In such cases, a small amount of lighter fluid can help ignite tinder or kindling to start a fire for warmth, cooking, or signaling purposes.

Types Of Lighter Fluid

There are various types of lighter fluid available on the market, each with its own specific characteristics and intended uses. Here are a few common types:

Petroleum-Based Lighter Fluid: This is the most widely used type of lighter fluid and is typically made from petroleum distillates like naphtha.

It has a low flashpoint and evaporates quickly, making it suitable for lighting devices like lighters and camping stoves.

Butane Lighter Fluid: Butane lighter fluid is specifically formulated to work with butane lighters. I

t contains a mixture of butane gas and other flammable solvents designed to ignite easily in combination with the lighter’s ignition mechanism.

Zippo Lighter Fluid: Zippo lighter fluid is a specific brand of lighter fluid designed for Zippo lighters, known for their distinctive design and durability.

Zippo fluid is typically a petroleum-based formulation intended to produce a clean-burning flame.

Multi-Fuel Lighter Fluid: Some lighter fluids are designed to be compatible with multiple types of fuel-burning devices.

These fluids are formulated to work with various lighters, stoves, and camping equipment that use various fuel types, such as butane, kerosene, or alcohol.

Odorless Lighter Fluid: Odorless lighter fluid is a type specially formulated to minimize or eliminate the strong smell commonly associated with petroleum-based lighter fluids.

It is often preferred by individuals sensitive to odors or prefers a less noticeable smell when lighting fires.

Can Wd40 Be Used As A Lighter Fluid?

No, WD-40 should not be used as a substitute for lighter fluid. WD-40 is a multipurpose lubricant and penetrating oil that is not designed or intended for use as a fuel source.

While WD-40 is flammable and can be used as a makeshift fire starter in emergencies, it is not a suitable replacement for lighter fluid.

WD-40 contains a mixture of various chemicals, including petroleum-based solvents and propellants.

While these components may burn, they are not formulated or tested to be used as fuel for lighting devices like lighters or camping stoves.

Using WD-40 as a lighter fluid substitute can be dangerous and lead to unpredictable and potentially hazardous outcomes.

The performance, volatility, and safety properties of WD-40 are not explicitly designed for ignition purposes. Its use as lighter fluid can result in excessive smoke, a less controlled flame, or even unexpected flare-ups.

Is Rubbing Alcohol A Good Substitute For Lighter Fluid?

Rubbing alcohol is not a suitable substitute for lighter fluid. While rubbing alcohol is flammable, it is not explicitly formulated or intended for use as a fuel source to ignite fires or light devices like lighters or camping stoves.

There are several reasons why rubbing alcohol is not a recommended substitute:

Flashpoint and Flammability: Rubbing alcohol typically has a higher flashpoint than lighter fluid.

It may not vaporize or ignite as readily as lighter fluid, making it less effective for quickly igniting fires.

Volatility and Evaporation Rate: Rubbing alcohol evaporates relatively quickly, which means it may not provide a sustained fuel source for a fire.

Lighter fluid is formulated to have a slower evaporation rate, allowing it to continue burning for longer durations.

Residue and Soot: Rubbing alcohol can leave behind residue and produce more soot when burned compared to lighter fluid.

This residue can affect the cleanliness of the flame and potentially impact the performance of devices like lighters or stoves.

Safety Concerns: Using rubbing alcohol as a substitute for lighter fluid may present safety hazards due to its different properties.

Rubbing alcohol is typically sold in higher concentrations, which increases the risk of accidental spills, vapor buildup, or flare-ups if not handled properly.

Which Is A Good Substitute For Lighter Fluid?

If you are in a situation where you don’t have access to lighter fluid, there are a few alternative options that can be used as substitutes.

These substitutes are not as effective as lighter fluids, but they can work in a pinch. Here are a couple of options:

Charcoal Chimney Starter: If you are trying to light charcoal for a grill, a charcoal chimney starter can be a good alternative to lighter fluid.

It is a metal cylinder with a handle and a grate inside. Simply place crumpled newspaper or other combustible materials underneath the grate and charcoal on top.

Light the newspaper, and the fire will quickly spread upward through the charcoal, eliminating the need for lighter fluid.

Natural Fire Starters: Natural fire starters, such as dry leaves, small twigs, or wood shavings, can ignite a fire.

These materials can be arranged as a small nest or teepee shape, and a match or lighter can be used to light them.

Once the fire starters catch fire, you can gradually add larger pieces of wood to build a fire.

Safety Precautions For Lighter Fluid

When handling and using lighter fluid, it is essential to follow safety precautions to minimize the risk of accidents and ensure safe usage.

Here are some important safety guidelines for handling lighter fluid:

Read and Follow Instructions: Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings on the lighter fluid container. Adhere to any specific guidelines or precautions mentioned.

Use in Well-Ventilated Areas: Always use lighter fluid in well-ventilated areas to prevent the buildup of flammable vapors. Using it in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces can increase the risk of fire or health hazards.

Keep Away from Flames and Heat Sources: Keep lighter fluid away from open flames, sparks, and other heat sources or ignition. Never use lighter fluid near lit candles, cigarettes, or hot surfaces.

Store Properly: Store lighter fluid in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and open flames. Ensure that the container is tightly sealed to prevent leaks or evaporation.

Keep Out of Reach of Children and Pets: Lighter fluid should be stored securely and out of the reach of children and pets. It is a flammable substance and can be dangerous if mishandled or ingested.

Use Proper Amounts: Use only the lighter fluid necessary for the intended purpose. Avoid using excessive amounts that can lead to uncontrolled flames or potential hazards.

Avoid Skin Contact: Avoid direct skin contact with lighter fluid. If it comes into contact with your skin, wash it thoroughly with soap and water.

Prolonged or repeated skin exposure should be avoided.

Proper Disposal: Follow local regulations for properly disposing of used lighter fluid. Please do not dispose of it in drains, sewers, or natural bodies of water, as it can contaminate the environment.

Have Fire Safety Equipment Nearby: Keep a fire extinguisher or another appropriate fire safety equipment nearby when using lighter fluid.

This will enable you to respond quickly in case of accidental fires.

Remember, lighter fluid is a flammable substance, and mishandling or improper usage can lead to accidents, injuries, or fires.

By following these safety precautions, you can reduce the risks of handling and using lighter fluid.


Yes, lighter fluid is highly flammable. It is designed to be flammable and easily ignitable, making it suitable for its intended purposes, such as lighting fires, igniting charcoal, or starting camping stoves.

The lighter fluid typically consists of flammable hydrocarbon compounds, such as petroleum distillates or butane, which have low flash points and evaporate quickly to produce flammable vapors.

It is important to handle and use lighter fluid cautiously, following the manufacturer’s instructions and taking proper safety precautions to minimize the risk of accidents, injuries, or fires.