Aside from its wide range of applications in many industries, aluminum foil takes a huge role in the world of kitchenware. Owing to aluminum’s lightweight, durability, and high heat conductivity, a larger percentage of common kitchen equipment such as several cooking utensils, baking pans, etc, are made from aluminum foil. However, is aluminum foil flammable and are we putting our entire house at risk of fire by using its product?
We will shed more light on these baffling questions as we proceed.
Aluminum Foil: What Does It Mean?
Aluminum foil was previously known as “tin foil” even though it wasn’t made of tin or any tin-like materials. Instead, aluminum foil is a general term for thin, malleable sheets of aluminum metal used for several purposes.
Moreso, the major constituent of aluminum foil is aluminum metal—a metallic element that belongs to group III of the periodic table. Using aluminum foils became popular around the 1920s and since then, it has been adopted in many industries for manufacturing household items.
Besides, aluminum foil is an easier and more affordable resort for manufacturing industries. Its products are also environmentally friendly since you can easily recycle them without cause for alarm.
Aluminum foil is used in the manufacture of food packaging materials or containers, cooking pans, insulation materials, and many more. Even aluminum foils are employed in the cosmetics industry to manufacture some makeup tools.
On the other hand, aluminum foil which is popularly known as “alfoil” in Australia, is usually about 0.015mm to 0.019mm thick. The heaviest aluminum foils should be around 0.024mm thick.
These foils can also be used ordinarily to protect foods owing to their lightness and pliable quality. Aluminum foil is commercially used as the wrapping material for two famous products, Toblerone Chocolate Bars and Life Saver Candies.
At this point, the big question sets in, is aluminum foil flammable, and will it catch fire in the right conditions? Let’s find out!
Is Aluminum Foil Flammable?
Aluminum foil is not flammable, although its color can be altered when it is subjected to high heat. The color change is because of the impurities attracted to the aluminum foil because of the smoke arising from a fire source.
If these smokes are wiped off, the foil will regain its original color. However, note that every item can catch fire when exposed to extremely high temperatures, aluminum foil is not an exception to this.
Hence, exposure to a relatively high temperature can cause an aluminum foil to ignite. But notwithstanding, aluminum foil does not pose a fire danger in most cases.
This multi-purpose foil can also melt when exposed to a high temperature of about 2600°F (a temperature obtainable from butane torches).
At What Temperature Will Aluminum Foil Ignite?
Aluminum foil will not ignite at low or fair temperatures, just like caulk. Therefore, to create the right flammability condition for foils, you’ll need a very high temperature of about 1220°F.
In the presence of air, aluminum foil will catch flames at this temperature. Thus, the temperature at which the foil burns which is 1220°F is known as its ignition point.
But keep in mind that the ignition point of aluminum foils is not easily attainable by any household or even industrial fire instigators. So, it is likely for you not to witness aluminum foils catching fire.
What Happens When You Burn Aluminum Foil?
If possibly you come across an aluminum foil fire, then expect it to burn and give off its byproduct just like flammable lithium would. A burning aluminum foil combines with metallic ions and oxygen ions in the atmosphere to release aluminum oxide as the only byproduct.
Can Aluminum Foil Burn In An Oven?
No, aluminum foil can not burn in an oven. This is because the optimum temperature range a household oven can reach is between 500°F to 600°F.
Aluminum foils can not ignite at any temperature within this range. The flammability nature of these foils can only be activated at temperatures that are multiples of the oven temperature range.
What About In A Microwave?
Aluminum foil does not burn in an oven nor does it ignite in a microwave, but that doesn’t mean you can safely use it in these appliances. Truth be told, we do not advise you to use aluminum foil containers for cooking in a microwave.
This is because even though these foils will not burn, they can trigger a spark in the microwave or the oven, starting an unexpected fire.
Can You Ignite Aluminum Foil With A Lighter?
The common lighters we have can not meet up with aluminum foil ignition temperature. Owing to this, you can not burn these foils with a lighter.
However, some rare lighters can produce an intense flame temperature of about 1500°F or 4074°F (butane lighters). These lighters can not burn aluminum foil, they can only melt it on the account of their flame temperature surpassing the melting point of the foil.
Safety Precautions To Observe When Handling Aluminum Foil
As we stressed earlier, aluminum foil won’t pose a fire threat at room temperature the same way carbon dioxide will not. But just in case you’re worried about how to handle this foil product safely in your kitchen, here are two helper tips you can observe:
- Do not wrap the foods meant to be cooked in an oven or microwave with aluminum foil. This is to prevent overheating of the oven and a dire consequence of a potential fire hazard.
- Make sure you do away with aluminum foils anywhere around your gas cooktops and stove as these appliances are more prone to catch fire.
Unlike aluminum powder, which ignites readily, aluminum foil is naturally a non-flammable material. However, it can burn just like any other material when subjected to extreme temperatures.
Nonetheless, aluminum foil is not a fire hazard and you can use its packaging and cooking materials safely at home. You can visit here to read more on the properties of aluminum foil.