Spray paint is an aerosol product designed to be sprayed as a fine mist. Spray painting is a faster method and provides a more uniform application than what conventional paint and brushes can offer. But with aerosol products, the chemical fumes are flammable and need to be used with caution at all times.
How long are spray paint fumes flammable? As long as there are still fumes in the air, it is still flammable. Spray paint needs to be used outside when possible or in a well-ventilated area, and always used with caution.
When working with spray paint, it is beneficial to understand what the paint is made from and the precautions you should take while working with it in order to keep you safe. I did some research to find out some important facts about spray paint.
What Makes Spray Paint Flammable?
Spray Paint Fumes
Most professional-grade paint cans contain VOCs. These compounds are composed of several different chemicals that actually can have short term and long term health effects. So it is important to understand what they are and how to work with them safely
VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. They are compounds that make it possible for them to evaporate under normal atmospheric conditions and are emitted as gasses or vapors.
Common symptoms reported by occupants exposed to VOCs are:
- Itchy, watery, or burning eyes
- Rashes or skin irritation
- Nose and throat irritation
Long-term effects from the fumes could cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.
It is important to work safely with spray paint to avoid any health effects. You should always take these precautions when working with spray paint:
- Stay out of the heat and away from fire
- Read instructions, labels, and warnings
- Keep aerosol can away from heat sources
- Don’t puncture the spray can
- Ventilate the room by opening windows and doors
- Wear respiratory protection
- Avoid contact with skin and eyes
What Is Spray Paint Made Of?
Spray paint is made up of mainly three different materials: pigments, solvents, and propellants.
There are four different types of pigments used in spray paint; they are:
- White pigments, titanium dioxide, which is used to make the painted surface more opaque.
- Color pigment, made with a variety of synthetic chemicals, provides color to the mixture.
- Inert pigments are used as fillers that alter the characteristics of the paint.
- Functional pigment provides extra performance characteristics by providing protection of UV rays.
Solvents are the liquid that carries the rest of the paint ingredients. Solvent selection can affect the stability of the pigment dispersion, and some can cause the outer layer to swell. Non-aqueous solvents are used instead of water-based solvents in order to avoid corrosion in metal cans.
How Long Do Fumes Linger?
In terms of letting a room air out, it will take typically around 2-3 days. Some of the factors that you should consider for judging the length of time are:
- Size of room
- Type of paint
- Brand of paint
Propellants are the gasses that force the paint out. Chlorofluorocarbon gasses are what spray paint was originally made with until it was banned for depleting the ozone layer, and then other gasses were tried and banned.
Now spray paint is made with a propellant known as hydrofluorocarbons. This includes 1,1,-difluoroethane and 1, 1, 1, 2,-tetrafluoromethane.
How Spray Paint Works
When the nozzle is pressed, the paint and propellant mixture moves up to the dip tube in response to the change in pressure. The dip tube works like a straw with one end attached to the nozzle and the other end at the bottom of the can. The propellant expands in the can, and the paint atomizes into a fine mist.
A small metal ball bearing, called the pea, inside the can maintain the paint and propellant mixture inside the can. So when you shake the can, the pea agitates the mixture to make that both components are combined. If the paint and propellant settle, they will come out in uneven proportions.
Combustible And Flammable Liquids
Flammable and combustible liquids are liquids that can burn. Flammable liquids will ignite and burn easily at normal working temperatures. Combustible liquids have the ability to burn at temperatures that are above working temperatures.
Flammable liquids have a flashpoint below 37.8 °C (100 °F) while combustible liquids have a flashpoint at or above 37.8 °C (100 °F) and below 93.3 °C (200 °F).
The mixture of vapors and air is what causes them to burn; the liquids itself do not burn.
Difference Between Flammable and Combustible
The main differences between flammable and combustible liquids are:
- Flammable liquids have a low flash point while combustible liquids have a high flashpoint.
- Flammable liquids burn at normal working temperatures while combustible liquids burn above working temperatures.
- Some examples of flammable liquids are, gasoline, paper, and rubber.
- Some examples of combustible liquids are, paint, aluminum, and coal.
What Is A Flashpoint?
A flashpoint is the lowest temperature at which a liquid gives off enough vapor to be ignited at the surface. In some instances, there could be more than one flashpoint for a chemical.
Flashpoints are intended to be used as a guide and not as a fine line between safe and unsafe.
Pros Of Using Spray Paint
Using spray paint can be an easy solution to your painting projects. Here are the pros of choosing spray paint:
- Provides more coverage
- Dries quicker
- Adheres really well to anything like wood, metal, glass, ceramic, etc.
- More durable than regular latex paint
Cons Of Using Spray Paint
Like most things, there are always cons to consider when thinking about the pros. Here are the cons of using spray paint:
- Color choices are more limited than if you were choosing regular paint
- It is more expensive per square foot of coverage
- Can cause irritation
- Need extra ventilation
Storing Spray Paint
You’ll want to store spray paint safely and in a way that the paint won’t get ruined. Here’s how:
- Storage should be somewhere between 55-80 °F. High or lower temperatures could degrade the paint. Temperatures too high can cause the cans to burst.
- Spray paint cans should be kept in a dry spot, away from heat, and out of direct sunlight.
Non-toxic paints are paints that have low traces or barely traceable amounts of VCOs. Non-toxic paint has reduced toxins, are better for the environment, have little to no hazardous fumes, are water-based, which is good for easier cleanup, and are not considered hazardous waste.
Low VCO paint uses water as a carrier instead of petroleum-based solvents. Some non-toxic paints are also made with natural latex, plant oils and resins, and milk casein.
Here is a list of some non-toxic paints:
- Krylon h2o latex paint, made with a water base.
- Sugar Artist’s acrylic spray paint, made with harvested sugar cane.
- MTN water-based 100 spray paint, made with a water base.