NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There’s a hidden risk with keeping hand sanitizer in your car, especially during the hot summer months.

Flammable liquids and direct sunlight can make it explode.

“It’s flammable and it’s an irritant,” said retired Dallas firefighter Sherrie Wilson. “When it’s venting and if it’s venting in a small space like a car, and vapor is released, it can explode.”

Wilson said pump bottles pose a greater risk because vapors can leak into a hot car creating a combustible environment.

“What happens with flammables, is they turn to vapor, and they vaporize into a confined space which was a car. And then if there was any introduction of static electricity and that could simply be somebody getting in and pulling down on a sweater or jacket or anything like that,” explained Wilson.

There are also concerns that leaving hand sanitizer in a hot car could make it less effective.

“If the alcohol evaporates, the hand sanitizer is less efficient. It is the alcohol that kills the germs,” said Dr. Mihaela C. Stefan with UTD’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The best advice experts have to offer, is simply carry the hand sanitizer with you.

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Comments (28)
  1. stillwell Hengry says:

    WOW, The image used by the fire department came from a Thailand post. Not even a US picture. The school’s article cited an AFP Thailand story which attributed the fire to two Saudis setting their door ablaze with an aerosol can and a lighter.

    A further study, it noted, found hand sanitizer would need to reach a temperature of approximately 300 degrees to combust, while vehicles, which can get hot enough to injure or kill people and animals, could only reach 160 degrees.

    1. Jeff K Brooks says:

      I have spent over 50 years in Texas. Yes, it gets hot during the summer. I have kept a bottle of hand sanitizer in my car door for about 2 decades. It is always there. My car has often been parked in the direct sunlight in July and August. The hand sanitizer has always stayed in the bottle without bursting into flames for probably about 10,000 consecutive days.

  2. Keep on lying says:

    It’s just ridiculous. Even a simple article like this is fake news. Almost everything the media spits out now is a flat out lie.

  3. dogsafire says:

    This is just wrong. The autoignition point of isopropyl alcohol is 750 degrees F. AT worst, a container of hand sanitizer in a hot car would pop a leak. A significant ignition source would be required to set it on fire. If an explosive atmosphere were to develop over time, 1) it would still require an ignition source, 2) an explosive alcohol/oxygen mixture in the car would dissipate almost immediately upon opening the car door and 3) if it really did explode, it wouldn’t produce a result as shown in the photo. The car windows would be gone.

    This is BAD REPORTING. False information.

    1. jbrickley says:

      Ethyl Alcohol (ethanol – grain alcohol) is used in hand sanitizer because it’s non-toxic and yes, you can get drunk on it. It’s not going to taste good and other additives could make you sick but it’s just like a jello shot for the most part. Autoignition of Ethyl Alcohol is 363C / 685F. The inside of a vehicle is not going to get hot enough to cause ignition. This story is complete B.S.

  4. sealy3 says:

    She says it could be ignited by static electricity from pulling off a sweater. Why would any body be wearing a sweater in summer weather conditions?
    Static electricity likes Cold Dry conditions to accrue.
    Which means winter cold / not summer hot and humid.

  5. alicat2441 says:

    Didn’t happen. How I know? Because I have hand sanitizer in my car all the time. I work in home health in Las Vegas, NV. Over the 13 years I’ve worked not once did hand sanitizer explode and catch fire.

  6. CDM says:

    Off the top of my head, the lower explosive limit for ethanol vapour in air is 3.3 per cent by volume, and the interior of an automobile is several cubic metres — ie: was there even enough ethanol to reach that if it all vapourised, a tough order since the boiling point is 73.9 degrees C — attainable in a car in the sun, but even then all of it would probably not boil off out of a sanitiser bottle . ..

  7. Geno says:

    Another reason why we hate the media. This is a flat lie! I’ve kept it my car for years! No problems.

  8. Bruce P says:

    F-ing CBS again at it with the fake news. Don’t believe anything you read on this website. They lie about even stupid things.

  9. CDM says:

    I wonder if folks remember the television reportage going around in the 1980s that showed a cigarette lighter on the roof of a car exploding in 40°C/104°F weather, and I think in partial shade no less (and for all we know, had gunpowder or something in it just like NBC putting dynamite in cars before crash tests for a story they did) and as the story filtered through local, regional, and national media and the community, the force of the explosion was quoted as being 5 g of gunpowder, a ounce of gunpowder, one stick of dynamite, three sticks of dynamite, six Petn-based blasting caps, a jug and a half of ether and a third of a brick of Semtex, how much ever that comes out to . . .

  10. Golf Romeo says:

    If the bullets in my car haven’t cooked off in the last 30 years, I doubt the hand sanitizer ever will.

  11. James C Berry says:

    Stop blaming the news for reporting this. Let’s blame the so-called experts who should be doing some fact checking and not just trying to get their names in the news. The Wisconsin Fire Department that started this was bad, but Sherrie Wilson of Texas is worse jumping on the bandwagon. Anyone who buys her services is doing themselves a dis-service.

  12. Sean Brock says:

    THIS IS NOT TRUE WHATSOEVER

  13. It’s a CBS Station… what do you expect?

  14. rcmrm says:

    It’s okay, it’s the company vehicle, I could care less either way

  15. Mike says:

    More will die of stupid decisions based out of fear, than the actual virus.

  16. Sure it did says:

    Nope. I live in Tucson, AZ. I’ve had sanitizer in my BLACK car in temperatures that are 118 in the summer. Never once has it caught on fire.

    1. Color of the vehicle makes no difference. It’s the windows. Sunlight passing through glass becomes longer in wavelength (more infrared) and becomes trapped inside. ~waves from Mesa~

      1. Sure it did says:

        I feel better about having the black car now! Hello fellow Arizonan!

  17. Ted Nugent says:

    Even the simplest of articles full of lies and mis-information, fake news alert.

  18. Disgusted says:

    READ the article. It allegedly happened in Wisconsin, not Texas. It NEVER gets hot enough in Wisconsin to do more than melt ice. Almost all the comments are right on target that this is pure BS. The pattern even looks more like a directed flame like from a torch than an “exploding” spray bottle. Past the point where you can trust anything you read or hear in the news.

  19. can says:

    Could Sherrie have carried an injured comrade to safety? No she couldn’t, she’s just another female hack that benefitted from lowered standards put in place just to benefit her gender, popo and .mil are two other services that did the same. And the fake news is not any smarter than she is…

  20. H. L. Lovell says:

    Hey Drudge take this fake new article down from your site!!! really disappointed in you!!!

  21. Rastakins says:

    Has anyone noticed that in the last year or so Drudge has not been vetting links very well? Most of their links seem to go to mainstream media sites too. What happened to Drudge’s critical thinking and diversity of thought?

  22. Pedro Sanchez says:

    Anyone want to place bets they will NEVER produce a RETRACTION or CORRECTION to this so-called News Story? Parts got wrong, location, temps, everything else..?? HELLO?

  23. JonCoth says:

    Gotta give cbslocal credit for allowing comments on one of its sites.

  24. These fire dopes spread fake news and won’t take responsibility. They just want to spread fear to feel important. Don’t @ me about how brave they are. This is their job and they have ALL the gear in the WORLD and training on how to be safe. They aren’t heroes unless actually save a human life.

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