JCM Machine & Coatings 636-942-4567
JCM Machine & Coatings 636-942-4567

Engine Coolant is it Flammable.

“Antifreeze “It doesn’t seem logical for a water based chemical to be flammable. However it is. I contacted a good friend of mine to get the low down on its flammability or ignition temperature.

All the credit goes to my friend, Timothy C. Finley. Tim is a Vehicular Forensic Reconstruction Specialist. His research has helped the fire department, police and insurance companies determine what caused the fire. Here is his response to my question:

“This letter is in response to your inquiry concerning the flammability of automotive coolant. As a forensic investigator of vehicle fires for nearly twenty years, the question of flammability of coolant has arisen many times and has been the issue of a number of lawsuits in the past. In the mid 80’s I observed a number of vehicle fires whose causes could only be explained by the ignition of engine coolant. At that time, there was no data available on the subject. I therefore chose to conduct testing to determine if pure antifreeze or antifreeze mixed with water in a 50% solution (coolant) would ignite or burn. I found that both would auto-ignite (ignite outside the presence of a spark or flame) on a hot surface. Surface temperatures of 650 degrees F to 750 degrees F would cause auto-ignition. Vapors at lower temperatures would ignite from a spark or flame. Heat sources containing more mass facilitated the auto-ignition process. I have repeated this testing a number of times over the years.

In the early 1990’s some automobile manufacturers began taking into account the flammability of coolant in vehicle design and recognized that the ever increasing under hood temperatures created a fire hazard for combustible fluids like coolant and washer fluid.

Since my early testing, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has recognized coolant as a flammable fluid and published ignition and auto-ignition temperatures for both pure antifreeze and coolant.

Although the concept of a water-based fluid being flammable may be difficult to comprehend, one must recognize that coolant is actually glycol based and only mixed with water. Raised to a high enough temperature, the glycol is still flammable even in the presence of water vapor”.


Thank You Tim Finley

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JCM Machine & Coatings
5655 Old State Route 21
 House Springs, Missouri 63051


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