It’s hard to imagine anything worse than a house fire when it comes to personal disasters. From a single spark, your house can be fully engulfed in flames along with everything and, tragically, everyone in it if you aren’t careful.
A big part of preventing and being prepared for dealing with a house fire is performing a fire risk assessment of the things and goods you have on hand.
Some things you wouldn’t expect are surprisingly flammable! Let’s look at aluminum foil, for instance. Is aluminum foil flammable?
No, aluminum foil is not flammable at all. It can melt, and can burn at extremely high temperatures but these temperatures are not something you’ll be able to achieve easily.
Aluminum foil is a staple in the kitchen for all sorts of purposes, and luckily it is one thing you don’t have to worry about going up in flames or starting a fire.
Still, there’s more you’ll want to know about it when it comes to fire prevention and fire safety so keep reading.
Is Aluminum Foil Combustible?
No, aluminum foil is not combustible. Constantly used in our kitchens for cooking or baking, or covering leftovers, it’s designed to withstand high temperatures without catching fire or burning.
This property makes it a safe choice for wrapping food that needs to be cooked or reheated.
Does Aluminum Foil Ignite at Any Temperature?
Yes, it can. Aluminum foil is known for its extraordinary resistance to high temperatures, but it does have its limits. It cannot ignite under normal usage circumstances, but when subjected to extremely high temperatures of around 1,220° Fahrenheit, it can.
Luckily, this temperature is far beyond the typical range found in most home or commercial ovens, making it unlikely for aluminum foil to ever ignite in any way during regular use.
So, while technically possible, it’s not a concern you’d typically need to worry about.
Does Aluminum Foil React with High Temps?
Yes, it can. As said, while it can withstand regular oven temperatures without igniting it can also melt when subjected to temperatures above its melting point of 1,221°F.
Again, these temps are far beyond those encountered in typical household or commercial cooking settings, making the occurrence of burning or melting an extremely unlikely possibility in everyday use.
Oils and Grease on Aluminum Foil May Ignite
Note that while aluminum foil itself is not flammable, it’s crucial to remember that food substances adhering to it can be.
Substances like oils and grease, commonly used for or byproducts of cooking, can easily ignite if overheated. This ignition doesn’t have to do with the foil itself but with the flammability of those oils and fats at high temperatures.
So while you’re using aluminum foil for cooking or grilling or any other task in or around the home, always monitor it and control your heat levels to prevent any potential fire hazards from unforeseen substances.
Will Aluminum Foil Catch Fire in the Microwave?
No, not exactly. Contrary to this popular misconception, aluminum foil itself does not catch fire in the microwave.
However, it will cause copious sparking due to the electric currents created when microwaves interact with the metal.
This occurs because microwaves excite the molecules in food, but metals like aluminum foil reflect these waves, causing the energy to build up and discharge as sparks.
These sparks, in turn, could pose a potential fire hazard as they can ignite any nearby flammable materials such as paper or food residues, or potentially ignite the microwave itself.
Will Aluminum Foil Make a Fire Worse?
No, aluminum foil will not worsen a fire under normal circumstances. As explained, extreme temperatures can cause aluminum foil to melt or potentially even burn, but this would not significantly contribute to the intensity of a fire.
Aluminum foil is not a combustible material and doesn’t even easily ignite unless subjected to extreme high temperatures – far beyond those of a typical household or commercial fire.
Is Aluminum Foil Reactive with Other Substances?
Potentially, yes. Aluminum foil can react hazardously with certain substances. One of the most notable reactions occurs when it comes into contact with strong acids of the kind often used in pipe cleaning agents.
This reaction is typically very vigorous and will yield hydrogen gas which can be a huge combustion hazard in enclosed spaces.
Furthermore, aluminum foil can also react when it encounters salt, vinegar, and even highly acidic foods, such as tomatoes.
This interaction can lead to a chemical reaction that may compromise the integrity of the foil, causing it to break down or weaken so be aware of that if you want to avoid spills.
Generally, though, so long as you don’t let your aluminum foil come into contact with any seriously harsh chemicals, you won’t have much to worry about.
How Should You Deal with Aluminum Foil Exposed to Fire?
In the event of a fire involving aluminum foil, standard firefighting measures should suffice. There’s no need for any special procedures or equipment.
If you find aluminum foil on fire, you can extinguish it using water, smother it, or use a fire extinguisher if available.
Residential-grade ABC-rated fire extinguishers are particularly well-suited for this task as they are designed to tackle various types of fires, including those involving ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, and electrical equipment.
Aluminum foil is not truly a combustible metal, so no special agent is required to snuff it out.
But, as described above under the reactivity section, you must be extra cautious if any strong acids or other chemicals have contacted aluminum foil as a consequence or cause of the fire.
The chemical reaction could produce highly toxic gas or combustible gasses as is the case with drain cleaner and other acids.
In a short time, and in a closed area, hydrogen gas buildup could result in an extremely energetic ignition which could blow a building up! This is unlikely to occur even in case of an accidental fire, but do take care where you choose to store your aluminum foil!
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.