Alcohol-based hand sanitizer ("ALBH") is used when access to soap and water may not be readily available. Hand sanitizer is typically an ethanol or ethyl alcohol solution at 70-80% concentration used to disrupt the protean or cell wall of a disease causing bacteria or virus. The remaining constituents typically include humectants (moisturizers) and/or excipients (stabilizers).
Because hand sanitizer contains an alcohol solution there is some community concern about the performance of the automatic fire sprinkler systems, fire hydrant systems, fire hose reels or fire extinguishers in the event of a fire.
In most cases the volume of alcohol-based hand sanitizer stored and used at various locations within a building is negligible (less than 2 litres) and traditional fire protection is more than adequate.
The question then arises at what volume (if any) does special fire protection requirements arise?
While researching this article I decided to conduct a basic test of the flash point of the hand sanitizer we had readily available in our office. The process was simple enough, I placed about a teaspoon on the surface of a saucer and placed it in the microwave oven for 5 seconds. I then removed it from the oven, placed in the bottom of the sink and ignited the heated liquid. To my surprise, it easily ignited, with a transparent flame with a blue and yellow edge and no smoke.