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September 23, 2008

Flying aerosols

If you've ever wondered why the airlines refuse to allow you to carry any aerosol tin aboard a flight, these pictures should give an explanation. These are pressurised and use Butane gas as a propellent - they previously used Halons, but these are now banned - and some aerosols also contain a flammable liquid as a base for whatever the cannister contains. Deoderants usually have an alcohol base while others, such as insecticides often have paraffin.

The fireball created by a bursting aerosol cannister.

BLEVE aerosol.JPG
A pair of aerosol cannisters, one of which created the fireball in the previous picture.

Because they are pressurised they can explode if the aircraft's cabin depressurises at high altitude or if stored in an unpressurised hold. The bang can be powerful enough to do considerable damage.

In a fire they can be propelled considerable distances and do a lot of damage on the way. I have seen cupboards blown off walls and windows smashed, but perhaps the most spectacular was one that punched a neat hole straight through a plaster board ceiling and set fire to the roof space above.

A bit of fire safety in the home advice. Check where you are storing all your aerosols and put them somewhere low down and well screened from the early heat of a fire - definitely not on top of cupboards or in high level shelves!

Posted by The Gray Monk at September 23, 2008 06:43 AM

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Cool pictures. I had to pull a pilot out of the water after his butane lighter exploded in his pocket. He punched out and we lost the Harrier. If it wasn't for all his safety equipment his burns would have been alot worse then 2nd degree over 10% of his body.

Posted by: skipjack at September 23, 2008 03:52 PM