Experts: It’s ‘Unlikely’ that Hand Sanitizer Will Combust in Your Car
Exercise caution, but know that the meme circulating has sketchy origins.
About a week ago, a post started circulating on social media about the dangers of leaving hand sanitizer in your car over the summer.
The post was originally shared by the Western Lakes Fire District from the Pabst Farms community in Wisconsin:
News outlets all over the country picked up on the story and ran with it...until the fire department removed their post and replaced it with this disclaimer:
The post was originally circulated on WhatsApp in Brazil, written in Portuguese, when American fire departments picked up on it. The picture that was used is not directly linked to hand sanitizer; its origins are still unknown.
Experts have weighed in and said that, while hand sanitizer does contain alcohol and is a flammable substance, it would take temperatures of up to 700 degrees to actually light it on fire. AKA, exposure to a direct flame.
A 2018 study showed that temperatures inside a car on a 95-degree-day can reach up to 116 degrees, with hotter temps of 160 degrees on the dashboard...but nowhere NEAR 700 degrees.
Basically, keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your car on a hot day is VERY unlikely to cause spontaneous combustion. However, to be safe, keep it out of the sunlight.
Lots of misinformation spreading around right now and it can be hard to stay ahead of it. We believed the fire department's original post, too. We're also glad that they clarified it. Be safe, everybody.