Have you ever wondered about the safety of the products you use every day? From cosmetics to food additives, there are countless substances that we come into contact with on a regular basis.
One such ingredient that has been the subject of much debate is propylene glycol.
Some people claim that this common additive is highly flammable and poses a serious risk to human health, while others argue that it is perfectly safe when used in moderation.
So, what’s the truth? Let’s take a closer look at this controversial substance and find out if there’s any truth to the claims that it is flammable.
- 1 What Is Propylene Glycol?
- 2 Is Propylene Glycol Flammable?
- 3 Is Propylene Glycol Toxic
- 4 Propylene Glycol Flashpoint
- 5 Is Propylene Glycol Combustible
- 6 Difference Between Propylene And Propylene Glycol?
- 7 What Are Other Names For Propylene Glycol?
- 8 What Is Propylene Glycol Used For?
- 9 Propylene Glycol Hazards
- 10 Safety Use Of Propylene Glycol
- 11 Conclusion
What Is Propylene Glycol?
Propylene glycol is a synthetic organic compound that belongs to the alcohol family. It is a clear, colorless, odorless, and slightly viscous liquid with a sweet taste.
The chemical formula for propylene glycol is C3H8O2, and its systematic name is 1,2-propanediol.
It is produced through the hydration of propylene oxide, which is derived from propylene, a hydrocarbon gas.
Propylene glycol has a wide range of applications due to its unique properties, including its ability to dissolve a wide range of substances, low toxicity, and high stability.
It is commonly used as a humectant, solvent, and preservative in various industries, including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, personal care products, and industrial applications.
It is also used as a component in some antifreeze and deicing solutions, as well as in certain medical and veterinary formulations.
Propylene glycol is considered generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in food and beverages, and it is widely used in consumer products.
However, like any chemical, propylene glycol should be used according to proper guidelines and regulations to ensure safe handling and use.
It is important to follow relevant safety information, including Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) or Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and adhere to appropriate usage levels and precautions to ensure safe and responsible use of propylene glycol.
Is Propylene Glycol Flammable?
This makes propylene glycol considered non-flammable or low flammability.
However, it is important to note that while propylene glycol itself is not flammable, it can support combustion and act as a fuel source for fires when in contact with other flammable materials.
Therefore, it is still important to handle and store propylene glycol safely, away from open flames, sparks, and other ignition sources, and follow proper fire prevention measures when using it in industrial processes or applications where other flammable materials are present.
Additionally, it is important to always adhere to relevant regulations, guidelines, and safety precautions when handling, storing, and using propylene glycol to ensure safe and responsible use.
Is Propylene Glycol Toxic
Propylene glycol is considered to have low toxicity and is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by regulatory agencies such as the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for use in food, cosmetics, and personal care products. It has a long history of safe use in various applications.
However, like many chemicals, propylene glycol can cause adverse health effects if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed in excessive amounts.
Ingestion of large quantities of propylene glycol may cause gastrointestinal upset, and inhalation of high concentrations of propylene glycol mist or vapor may cause respiratory irritation or discomfort.
Skin contact with propylene glycol may cause mild irritation in some individuals.
Additionally, some individuals may be more sensitive to propylene glycol and may experience allergic reactions or other adverse effects.
It is important to follow appropriate safety guidelines and regulations, and use propylene glycol in accordance with recommended usage levels and good manufacturing practices (GMP) to minimize potential risks associated with its use.
Propylene Glycol Flashpoint
The flash point of propylene glycol depends on its concentration, as it is typically used as a mixture with water or other solvents.
However, pure propylene glycol has a flash point of around 103°C to 110°C (217°F to 230°F) in a closed cup test, which is the temperature at which it can produce enough vapors to form a flammable mixture with air.
It’s important to note that while propylene glycol has a relatively high flash point, it can still support combustion and act as a fuel source for fires in certain conditions, especially when in contact with other flammable materials.
Therefore, it is crucial to handle and store propylene glycol safely, away from open flames, sparks, and other ignition sources, and follow proper fire prevention measures when using it in industrial processes or applications where other flammable materials are present.
Is Propylene Glycol Combustible
Propylene glycol is not considered highly combustible, but it can support combustion under certain conditions. Propylene glycol has a flash point, which is the lowest temperature at which it can ignite and produce flammable vapors in air.
The flash point of propylene glycol is generally above 100°C (212°F), which means it is not easily ignited at normal room temperature or under typical handling and storage conditions.
However, when exposed to high temperatures, sparks, flames, or other ignition sources, propylene glycol can potentially catch fire and burn.
Therefore, while propylene glycol is not considered highly combustible, it should still be handled with caution, stored properly, and kept away from potential ignition sources to minimize any risks of combustion or fire.
Difference Between Propylene And Propylene Glycol?
Propylene and propylene glycol are two different chemical compounds with different chemical structures, properties, and uses.
Chemical Structure: Propylene (C3H6) is a simple hydrocarbon compound with a double bond between two carbon atoms, belonging to the class of alkenes.
It is an unsaturated compound and exists as a gas at room temperature and atmospheric pressure.
On the other hand, propylene glycol (C3H8O2), also known as 1,2-propanediol, is a diol compound with two hydroxyl groups (-OH) attached to adjacent carbon atoms.
It is a colorless, odorless liquid that is miscible with water and has a slightly sweet taste. Propylene glycol is a type of alcohol and is classified as a diol or glycol.
Properties: Propylene is a flammable gas with a low boiling point (-47.6°C or -53.7°F) and a low flash point (-104°C or -155°F). It is used as a fuel, chemical feedstock, and refrigerant, among other industrial applications.
Propylene glycol, on the other hand, is a viscous liquid with a higher boiling point (188.2°C or 370.8°F) and a higher flash point (107°C or 225°F).
It is a relatively low-toxicity compound and is commonly used as a solvent, humectant, preservative, and antifreeze agent in a wide range of applications, including food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and personal care products.
Uses: Propylene is primarily used as a raw material in the production of polypropylene, which is a versatile plastic used in various applications.
It is also used as a fuel, refrigerant, and chemical feedstock in the petrochemical industry.
Propylene glycol, on the other hand, is widely used as a versatile ingredient in numerous consumer and industrial products.
It is commonly used as a solvent, humectant, preservative, and antifreeze agent in food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, personal care products, e-cigarettes, and other applications where a non-toxic, water-soluble compound with low volatility is desired.
What Are Other Names For Propylene Glycol?
Propylene glycol is also known by other names, including:
1,2-propanediol: This is the systematic name for propylene glycol based on its chemical structure, which consists of two hydroxyl groups (-OH) attached to adjacent carbon atoms in a propane molecule.
Propane-1,2-diol: This is another systematic name for propylene glycol, which indicates the presence of two hydroxyl groups (-OH) in a propane molecule.
PG: PG is a common abbreviation used for propylene glycol, which is widely used in various industries and applications.
Methylethylene glycol: This is a historical name for propylene glycol, which is derived from its chemical composition and similarity in properties to ethylene glycol, a related compound with a similar chemical structure.
1,2-dihydroxypropane: This is another alternative name for propylene glycol based on its chemical composition, indicating the presence of two hydroxyl groups (-OH) in a propane molecule.
PG 12: This is a common trade name used for propylene glycol, especially in the food and beverage industry, where it is used as a humectant, solvent, and preservative.
It’s important to note that these names all refer to the same compound, which is a colorless, odorless, and slightly sweet-tasting liquid that is widely used in various applications, including food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, personal care products, and industrial processes.
What Is Propylene Glycol Used For?
Propylene glycol is a versatile chemical compound with a wide range of applications in various industries. Some common uses of propylene glycol include:
Food and Beverage: Propylene glycol is used as a food additive and is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by regulatory agencies such as the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in food and beverage products. It is commonly used as a solvent, humectant, and preservative in food and beverage applications, such as in soft drinks, baked goods, dairy products, frostings, and flavorings.
Cosmetics and Personal Care Products: Propylene glycol is used as a solvent, humectant, and emulsifier in cosmetics and personal care products, such as moisturizers, lotions, creams, shampoos, and deodorants.
It helps to improve product stability, texture, and shelf life.
Pharmaceuticals: Propylene glycol is used as a solvent and excipient in pharmaceuticals, including oral and topical medications.
It is used as a vehicle for drug delivery and as a component in formulations such as cough syrups, oral suspensions, and topical creams.
Industrial Applications: Propylene glycol is used as a heat transfer fluid in industrial processes, such as in refrigeration and air conditioning systems, where it helps to transfer heat efficiently.
Veterinary and Pet Care Products: Propylene glycol is used in veterinary and pet care products, such as medications, grooming products, and animal feed, for similar purposes as in human applications, such as as a solvent, humectant, and preservative.
Other Applications: Propylene glycol is also used in a variety of other applications, including in electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or vapes) as a component of the e-liquid, in smoke machines for special effects, in liquid detergents, in paint and coatings, and as a component in certain chemical reactions and processes.
Propylene Glycol Hazards
While propylene glycol is generally considered safe for many common applications, it can pose hazards if not handled, stored, and used properly. Some potential hazards associated with propylene glycol include:
Skin and Eye Irritation: Propylene glycol can cause skin and eye irritation, particularly in concentrated forms or prolonged contact.
Direct contact with propylene glycol may cause redness, itching, and rash on the skin, and irritation, redness, and tearing in the eyes.
It is important to use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and goggles, when handling propylene glycol to minimize skin and eye exposure.
Inhalation Hazards: Propylene glycol is a low volatile compound, but exposure to high concentrations of propylene glycol vapor or mist in poorly ventilated areas may cause respiratory irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
It is important to use propylene glycol in well-ventilated areas, or use appropriate respiratory protection, such as a respirator, if needed.
Ingestion Risks: While propylene glycol is considered safe for use in food and beverages at appropriate levels, ingestion of large amounts of concentrated propylene glycol may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
It is essential to handle propylene glycol carefully and avoid ingesting it.
Combustibility: While propylene glycol has a relatively high flash point, it can still support combustion and act as a fuel source in certain conditions.
When exposed to high heat or open flames, propylene glycol can release flammable vapors and contribute to the spread of fires.
It is important to store propylene glycol away from ignition sources and follow proper fire prevention measures.
Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some individuals may develop allergic reactions to propylene glycol, such as skin rash, itching, or respiratory symptoms.
If you experience any unusual symptoms after exposure to propylene glycol, discontinue use and seek medical attention.
Environmental Concerns: Propylene glycol is classified as a low-toxicity substance, but excessive release into the environment, particularly in water bodies, can potentially have negative impacts on aquatic life.
It is important to handle, use, and dispose of propylene glycol in accordance with applicable environmental regulations and guidelines.
Safety Use Of Propylene Glycol
When using propylene glycol, it is important to follow proper safety practices to minimize potential hazards. Here are some general safety guidelines for the safe use of propylene glycol:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Wear appropriate PPE, such as gloves, goggles, and protective clothing, when handling propylene glycol to protect your skin, eyes, and clothing from potential contact and irritation.
Ventilation: Use propylene glycol in well-ventilated areas to minimize inhalation of vapors or mist.
If working in an enclosed space, ensure proper ventilation, such as using exhaust fans or opening windows and doors.
Avoid Ingestion: Do not consume propylene glycol or use it for purposes other than its intended applications. Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking while handling propylene glycol to prevent accidental ingestion.
Storage: Store propylene glycol in tightly sealed containers in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area, away from ignition sources, heat, and flame.
Follow all storage guidelines provided by the manufacturer.
Fire Prevention: Propylene glycol is not highly flammable, but it can support combustion under certain conditions.
Keep propylene glycol away from open flames, sparks, and other sources of ignition. Have appropriate fire extinguishing equipment nearby and follow fire safety procedures.
First Aid: In case of skin contact, immediately wash affected areas with plenty of water. In case of eye contact, flush eyes with water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical attention.
If swallowed, seek immediate medical attention. Keep safety data sheets (SDS) or material safety data sheets (MSDS) readily available for reference.
Environmental Protection: Follow all applicable environmental regulations and guidelines for the proper handling, use, and disposal of propylene glycol to prevent environmental contamination.
Allergy Awareness: Be aware of potential allergic reactions to propylene glycol, and discontinue use if any unusual symptoms occur. Seek medical attention if needed.
Training and Education: Ensure that personnel handling propylene glycol are properly trained on its safe use, handling, and storage.
Stay informed about the latest safety guidelines, regulations, and best practices for propylene glycol use.
As with any chemical substance, it is crucial to exercise caution, follow appropriate safety practices, and comply with regulations and guidelines when using propylene glycol to ensure safe handling and minimize potential hazards.
Propylene glycol is not highly flammable and is considered to have low flammability properties. However, it can support combustion under certain conditions, such as in the presence of an ignition source, heat, or open flame.
It is important to handle propylene glycol with caution, follow proper safety practices, and avoid exposing it to potential ignition sources to prevent the risk of fire.
While propylene glycol is not considered highly flammable, it is always important to exercise caution, follow relevant regulations and guidelines, and use propylene glycol in a safe and responsible manner to minimize any potential hazards.
Hi, I m Aaron Smith, a firefighter, and creator of Firefighterline.com, a website that provides top-notch training courses for firefighting organizations. After completing my studies, I quickly rose through the fire service ranks, eventually becoming Captain at one of the busiest fire departments in the state.