Recent incidents of sanitizer bottles heating up, when left in cars parked under the sun, have sparked a new debate on whether it’s a safety hazard to carry a sanitiser bottle in a car
Sanitiser is a necessity today. But, how safe is it to have a sanitiser in say a car that's parked in a high temperature zone or in a luggage that will be checked in during air travel? Isn't the alcohol content in sanitisers high enough to be a cause of accidents such as fire hazards? So then, can that little bottle of liquid, which you believe is potent to save you from coronavirus, can be dangerous to carry?
"Sanitising chemicals consist of 70% isopropyl alcohol. The temperature needed to reach the flash point of this chemical (the point at which a substance ignites) is 21 degree celsius." – Joginder Singh, professor at an engineering college
"It's a recent habit to hoard sanitisers because of the on-going pandemic. I have bought four sanitisers and put them in various places, among which one is my car. The initial thought behind that was the convenience to use it as soon as I enter the car. However, recently when I had parked my car under the sun to go for grocery shopping, I came back and upon touching the sanitiser bottle realised that it was super hot! It then struck me that had I left it in for a few more minutes under the scorching sun, it might have even inflated or bursted... after all there's alcohol in it," says Vaishwi Khanna, a resident of DLF Phase 2, Gurugram.
Confirming that it isn't a safe practice to keep sanitisers in car, Joginder Singh, professor at a Haryana-based engineering college, Head Research and Development Gateway Institute of Engineering and Technology says, "Sanitising chemicals consist of 70% isopropyl alcohol. The temperature needed to reach the flash point of this chemical (the point at which a substance ignites) is 21 degree Celsius. When the car is locked, with the bottle kept inside it for long, the temperature of the car increases and the chemical in the sanitiser forms vapour upon coming in contact with heat. In such a situation if anyone happens to light a cigarette, it can lead to an explosion! It's therefore advisable to refrain from keeping sanitisers in cars.
The safety of carrying sanitisers on aircraft is also a concern. "According to the rules, passengers can carry only 100 ml sanitiser on-board. They are allowed to use it only on their skin, and not on any surface inside the aircraft. The quantity of the sanitisers is limited because of security reasons, as they can lead to a fire hazard because of the alcohol content in them," informs Pretty Loryn, a flight attendant with a private airline.
"We have provided an Antivirus Disinfectant Spray to a cab aggregator. This spray creates an ultra thin layer over the surface on which it is used... it can also be used on the skin as an alternative to alcohol based sanitisers." – Vidit Arora, an employee with a company manufacturing non-alcoholic sanitizer
All said and agreed, but in times like these when sanitiser is a necessity, is there an alternative to alcohol-based sanitisers that can be kept in cars without inviting any danger? Indeed there is. Vidit Arora, who is working with a company that is manufacturing non-alcoholic virus disinfectant spray, says, "We have provided an Antivirus Disinfectant Spray to a cab aggregator. This spray creates an ultra thin layer over the surface on which it is used, and it stays there for an entire day thereby helping to avoid any further settlement of virus. At present, it's being used in cabs to sanitise the seats and surfaces between taking in passengers. This spray can be used for disinfecting multiple surfaces, and can also be used on the skin as an alternative to alcohol based sanitisers. In fact, it's also pet-friendly! Since it's alcohol-free, so there's no harm to store it in the car."