Every hazardous chemical or material is a little bit different than others. Some substances may be highly toxic, but otherwise stable. Others may be relatively non-toxic, yet completely unstable when combined with heat. For anyone potentially handling or making decisions concerning such materials, it is crucial to know the meaning behind various hazardous warnings. In this piece, we’re going to look at hazard materials warnings concerning how they react with friction, heat, or fire.
Substances described as “oxidising” or “oxidizing” are such that can fuel fire without the need for additional air. This process occurs when the material accepts the electrons or other substances and transform an element into an oxide. Some such materials include sodium peroxide, nitric acid above 70% concentration, and sodium chlorate.
Material labeled explosive are such that can be aggravated to the point of explosion when raised to a specific temperature. This process of “heating up” may be the result of ignition from existing fire, friction, or atmospheric conditions. Such explosive materials include dynamite, trinitrotoluene (TNT), or nitroglycerine.
A substance deemed “extremely flammable” is one who’s vapors can mix with the surrounding air for an ignitable space of air once it comes in contact with an ignition source or other such conditions. Such materials have a flashpoint below 0 degrees C and a boiling point below 35 degrees C. Examples of such extremely flammable substances are diethyl ether, hydrogen, and acetylene.
Substances deemed “highly flammable,” like their “extremely flammable” counterparts, contain vapors that can combine with surrounding sources of air that can react to an ignition source. The difference is that they tend to have a higher flashpoint—1-23 degrees C. Examples of highly flammable substances include petrol and acetone.
Substances classified simply as “flammable” are such with the same vapor-blending qualities of their “extremely” and “highly” flammable varieties, only with a higher flashpoint—between 23 and 60 degrees C. “Flammable” substances at this level include turpentine oil and styrene.
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