13 Everyday Household Items You Had No Idea Are Flammable

House fires continue to take a searing toll on U.S. homeowners, with more than 350,000 house fires per year causing as many as 2,510 civilian fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. “People take safety for granted and are not aware of the risk of fire,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “Paying attention to your surroundings, looking for available exits in the event of a fire or other emergency, and taking the smoke alarm seriously if it sounds can make a potentially life-saving difference in a fire or other emergency situation.” Cooking equipment, smoking and heating equipment are the leading causes of home structure fires, according to the organization. But there are a number of uncommon, strange and even bizarre substances sitting in your home that could make a house fire even more serious.

Coffee Creamer

coffee creamer flammable

Ah, the pleasant aroma of hazelnut nondairy creamer in your morning cup of Joe! It may seem like a harmless indulgence but powdered nondairy creamer is surprisingly combustible due to a chemical composition, which includes sodium aluminosilicate. So consider switching to a more stable liquid variety—or at least keep the creamer away from the stove.



Oranges Flammable

Did you know that one of America's favorite fruits can start a fire? Oranges are chock full of a naturally occurring (and extremely flammable) chemical called limonene that makes dried orange peels fragrant and effective fire starters for campfires and fireplaces.



Flour Flammable

Fine, powdery flour suspended in the air can actually explode when it comes into contact with fire. And because flour consists of carbohydrates, it burns fast and hot. Although the average kitchen is rarely filled with so much airborne flour as to pose a fire hazard, flour mills must take precautions to guard against serious safety issues.

Related: Start Fresh: 10 Things in Your Kitchen You Need to Toss ASAP


Powdered Sugar & Spices

Powdered Sugar Flammable

Similar to flour, powdered sugar is a carbohydrate, and when it gets hot, the sugar molecules can ignite. Powdered spices like cinnamon, chili powder, and garlic all consist of fine particles that can easily catch fire—and some spices even contain flammable oils.

Related: 13 Unusual Ways to Use What's in Your Spice Rack



Snacks Flammable

Many popular snack foods are especially susceptible to fire: potato chips, tortilla chips, cheese puffs and other high-fat, high-carb treats. And who doesn’t recognize the distinctive odor of microwave popcorn catching fire?


Moth Balls

Moth Balls Flammable

The same noxious smell that keeps moths and other pests away from closets also makes moth balls extremely flammable. Moth balls are made from a chemical called naphthalene, which is used in explosives.


Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer Flammable

Hand sanitizers have become ubiquitous additions to many households, but the active ingredient—ethyl alcohol—is extremely flammable. Smokers or survivalists who carry lighters and bottles of hand sanitizer together in a bag or purse should be especially mindful to keep these everyday items stored separately.

Related: 11 Common Causes of House Fires and How to Prevent Them



Aerosols Flammable

The average household may contain numerous aerosol cans, including cooking oils, cleansers, hairspray, deodorants, body sprays, fragrances, bug repellants and sunscreens. Aerosols work because the contents are under pressure, which means that they can explode when exposed to high levels of heat. And in many cases, the contents of the can also contain flammable chemicals, making these seemingly innocent containers a double-whammy of potential safety problems.


Dryer Lint

Dryer Lint Flammable

Dryer lint is nothing more than the buildup of textile fibers, hair, and debris—and these ingredients make it highly combustible. In fact, dryer lint is so flammable that many people use it to make their own DIY fire starters! Stay safe by cleaning your clothes dryer's lint trap, exhaust hose, ductwork and vents regularly to prevent lint buildup.

Related: 10 Things Your Local Fire Department Wishes You Knew


Shoe Polish

Shoe Polish Flammable

Shoe polish typically contains a mix of natural and synthetic components, some which include naphtha, turpentine and waxes, all of which are flammable. Plus, many black shoe polishes also contain combustible charcoal dust.


Plastic Containers

Plastic Containers Flammable

Plastics are a petroleum product, and therefore can be highly flammable. Although many household plastic containers are manufactured using additives that make them less likely to burn, all types of plastic will catch fire when exposed to high heat.


Nail Polish & Remover

Nail Polish Flammable

Both nail polish and nail polish remover are made with highly flammable chemicals. Nail polish typically contains isopropyl alcohol, ethyl acetate and butyl acetate. Nail polish remover generally consists of acetone, which is so combustible that even the vapors alone can catch fire.

Related: 10 Things You Never Thought to Do with Nail Polish


Ping Pong Balls

Ping Pong Balls Flammable

Sure, everyone loves a good game of ping pong—but ping pong balls, which are made out of celluloid, are highly flammable if exposed to high heat. Older ping pong balls were made of acidified celluloid, an ingredient that becomes unstable over time, which caused some balls to explode in mid-game.


Keep Away from Flames

Keep Away from Flames

Be smart and safe about how you store these often unrecognized flammable substances.


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