Is Tear Gas Flammable: Learn More

The recent events in the US and abroad have resulted in a sharp rise in the usage of pepper spray and tear gas. Both of these non-lethal methods of crowd and individual control inflict great suffering in order to stop a person or group from acting in a particular way going forward. The more straightforward inquiry is: Is their usage a fire hazard? The right and wrong of this are outside our jurisdiction.

The majority of tear gas that is used nowadays is chosen because it doesn’t catch fire, and pepper spray’s extremely high water content makes it completely non-flammable. There are several types of tear gas, so it depends depend on which one you use.

With some of the recent news incidents, this is not an unusual question. Let’s examine the many forms of tear gas and how flammable they are. What you should know is as follows. 

Tear gas: What Is It?

Tear gas, often referred to as “mace” by non-law enforcement people but commonly known as “lachrymator agent” or “lachrymator” in chemical and law enforcement circles (the term “lacrima” is Latin for “tear”), is not a single product.

In actuality, it is a class of chemical weapons designed to cause agony and sorrow in order to dissuade a person or group from carrying out their activity. 

OC gas, also referred to as pepper spray, PAVA (nonivamide), xylyl bromide, bromoacetone, CS gas, CN gas, and CR gas are examples of this class of compounds. 

It could also contain the brand of tear gas known as “Mace,” which is why many citizens use the word to refer to all types of tear gas. 

Tear gas is mostly employed to quell riots since, ironically, several international treaties prohibit its use in times of conflict.

Long-term consequences might include dermatitis, cardiovascular system damage, respiratory disorders, eye injuries, and gastrointestinal system damage.

In the worst situations, it may even be fatal. This is especially true when there is a lot of tear gas spread across a small, enclosed area. 

Is Tear Gas Flammable?

The bulk of tear gas agents on the market today are purportedly chosen specifically for their inability to catch fire. 

But it might not be a good idea to trust this 100% in light of the Waco tragedy. 

Read more Is Hydrochloric Acid Flammable.

Waco’s Burning Tear Gas

The FBI claims that in 1993 and 1995, the tear gas selected for application on the Waco complex was completely non-flammable and non-burnable.

After that, the FBI made a U-turn in 1999 and acknowledged using a “very limited number” of incendiary gas cartridges on the final day of the famed siege of the Branch Davidian sect’s residence, as the Washington Post reported. 

The gas in question is commonly referred to as CS gas. It’s actually a fine white powder that is combustible, much like many other powders, and not at all like a gas.

Even worse, burning CS releases hydrogen cyanide, a fatal toxin (it was the gas used in the notorious Auschwitz Concentration Camp “showers”). 

Is tear gas combustible, then? Based on the information that is currently available, it appears that some types of tear gas are combustible, but not the majority. 

OC Spray: What Is It?

As a lachrymatory agent, pepper spray makes use of a substance called “oleoresin capsicum,” which is derived from peppers, which is why it is also known as “OC spray.” 

Originally meant to be used as a protection against wild creatures, it works just as well on dogs and bears as it does on humans. 

While it is employed in riot control, it is purportedly prohibited from being used on compliant individuals following the police’s use of pepper spray against nonviolent demonstrators at the University of California in 2011. 

How Much Heat Is in a Tear Gas Can?

A tear gas can’s storage temperature is the same as the surrounding air temperature.

This all changes abruptly, though, when a throng is shot with tear gas from a can.

For example, CS gas has to be a gas in order to be dispersed. Thus, for anything to boil, it must reach 310 degrees Celsius, or 590 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Therefore, the CS gas must be heated by the CS gas cannister before it can be sprayed everywhere. 

It does actually grow so hot that skin might be burned by the spray that escapes and the cannister itself. 

This might also be partially to blame for the fire at the Waco complex. 

Will An OC Spray Spark From A Taser?

Yes, in fact, you can watch a well-known French instance when a protestor was tased after being drenched with pepper spray in the video below. 

This produced an electrical spark, which ignited the pepper spray’s propellant and severely burnt the protestor. Tasers typically don’t set people on fire, assuming they weren’t doused with flammable liquid or powder beforehand. 

People and the majority of clothes are not set on fire by electric charges. 

Is Baking Soda Beneficial for Tear Gas?

Some tear gas can be neutralized with the use of baking soda. 

Three tablespoons should be combined with eight ounces of fresh, clean water. 

After applying it to the eyes to help neutralize the chemical, plenty of fresh, clean water should be rinsed out of the eye. Don’t put the water in your eyes if you wouldn’t drink it; doing so will just invite an infection. 

How About the Saline Solution?

The best method for removing CS gas from your eyes and skin is to use salt or plain water, according to the United States Army and the several producers who create the gas.

It is important to bear in mind that CS gas adheres to various materials such as clothes, hair, and possessions, and it can require submersion to completely eradicate it from your body. 


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