[Q&A] Is DMSO flammable or combustible?

Is DMSO flammable or combustible

If you work in a hospital, clinic, or other medical facilities, or if you plan to visit one for any reason, you might encounter DMSO, commonly used for pain relief and wound healing. However, if you’ve been questioning is DMSO flammable, this piece is for you. Interestingly, while addressing this, it’s essential to compare DMSO’s flammability with that of other substances like ethanol, acetol, methanol, Isopropyl alcohol, benzene, petroleum, and toluene. Let’s dive in at once to explore the flammability of DMSO and how it compares to these substances.

Is DMSO Flammable?

Is DMSO flammable or combustible
Is DMSO flammable or combustible

Yes. DMSO is a flammable chemical substance that can ignite a fire or cause an explosion if handled carelessly. DMSO is a combustible liquid and vapour that is heavier than air. The chemical liquid substance is highly flammable, just like gasoline or other flammable liquids.

DMSO is a common chemical substance extensively used in the medical field. DMSO can be purchased without prescriptions and this means anyone can buy it effortlessly. Besides, you need to know what DMSO is, how it is produced, why it is flammable, and what it is used for.

This will make it workable to infer many facts about DMSO handily and how it is regulated if possessed, to avert misplacements or wrong use that can escalate into an explosion.

What is DMSO?

Is DMSO flammable or combustible?
Is DMSO flammable or combustible?

DMSO is also known as dimethyl sulfoxide and it is a by-product of papermaking.

It is extracted from a substance found in wood. DMSO is a colourless and odourless liquid known as an organosulfur compound. DMSO decomposes polar and non-polar compounds.

You might not identify DMSO with the name dimethyl sulfoxide and might end up mixing it up. It has other names which are methyl sulfoxide and methylsulfonylmethane. It is only the same chemical compound with different names.

C²H⁶OS is the chemical formula for DMSO, which is soluble in water. The chemical compound has a 66° Fahrenheit melting point and 372° Fahrenheit boiling point.

It has a trigonal pyramidal molecular shape (picture above) and is flagged as an irritant and flammable compound. DMSO was first synthesized in the 19th century and since then, identified to be used as a medical substance.

Is DMSO flammable or combustible?

Is DMSO flammable or combustible?
Is DMSO flammable or combustible?

DMSO comes from a substance found in wood. The substance is well refined to extract dimethyl sulfoxide from it via oxidation with oxygen or nitrogen dioxide.

DMSO is considered as a by-product of papermaking. After manufacturing paper from wood, there are leftover substances that are used to produce dimethyl sulfoxide. The chemical has been used since the 19th century as an industrial mixture.

Since most chemical compounds are flammable, dimethyl sulfoxide is no exception. It is naturally flammable and it can cause an explosion when dropped in an open fire. Both little and large amounts of the liquid are flammable.

Unlike other chemical substances that can be in a solid form, DMSO is liquid. It is a combustible liquid and vapour chemical which makes it heavier than air. Thus, it cannot be carried or blown away by air. Hence, it makes DMSO travel farther and might drop in a fire source, which can lead to a fire outbreak.

Is DMSO toxic or not?

Is DMSO flammable or combustible?
Is DMSO flammable or combustible?

DMSO has extremely low toxicity. The chemical has no toxic effect on plants and animals. If the chemical is used through inhalation, ingestion or contact, it shows low toxicity. However, there are precautions in its use.

Dimethyl sulfoxide can be purchased in health food stores or ordered online, but it is advisable to use it under the supervision of a medical expert. The moderate use of DMSO on the skin is not toxic but overusing it can cause skin irritation and stomach upset. It can also lead to severe headaches, itching and burning on the skin.

Since the chemical can be used via any means, its level of toxicity may differ when used erroneously. Using dimethyl sulfoxide by mouth can lead to vomiting, drowsiness, constipation, nausea and dizziness.

Naturally, DMSO is not toxic when used appropriately, but shouldn’t be used by a breastfeeding or pregnant mother. The chemical might be injurious to an infant or fetus.

What is DMSO Used For?

Is DMSO flammable or combustible?
Is DMSO flammable or combustible?

1) Used for Skincare and Oral Supplements: Dimethyl sulfoxide works effectively on the skin. It can suppress skin rashes and irritation if applied moderately. The skin absorbs DMSO easily, which makes it possible to cleanse the skin by eradicating dead cells.

DMSO also makes it possible to increase how the body absorbs other skin medications. The chemical compound is also used to manufacture oral supplements. Although its safety isn’t completely substantiated.

2) Used to Treat External Injuries: Whenever there are minor skin injuries like cuts, bruises, burns wounds and so on, dimethyl sulfoxide can cleanse the surface to aid faster healing.

If it is used on these injuries, it treats them by protecting the wound surface from germs or bacteria that may prolong the healing process.

Is DMSO flammable or combustible
Is DMSO flammable or combustible

3) Used to Manufacture Medical gels: Since the chemical compound is widely used for medical treatments, it is used to create medical gels.

The gel used to treat osteoarthritis features DMSO, and it contains 25% of dimethyl sulfoxide.

4) Used to Treat Eye Problems: DMSO is used to treat eye problems. For instance, when a patient is experiencing blurry visions, DMSO can help make vision clearer and more vivid.


DMSO is flammable because it comprises highly combustible chemicals. Albeit, DMSO is not to be used as gasoline or any other fire igniting liquid. Its use differs from one person to another based on what it is needed for. Since dimethyl sulfoxide can be used for many things, it doesn’t require you to carry it about, it should be avoided to prevent an explosion.

Therefore, if you work at any medical centre or you’re planning to visit one, or you purchased DMSO for certain health reasons, it is better to avoid sparks or heat where the chemical is kept. Since it is flammable, proper precautions should be obeyed to overrule fire outbreak accidents.

What fascinates you about dimethyl sulfoxide the most? Have you used it for any medical conditions? If yes, how did it react? Have you seen DMSO react to fire before? You can comment below to share your opinions.

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