Skin creams linked to fire deaths - Cosmetic Science Talk

Skin creams linked to fire deaths

I offer this for your information:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39308748



Comments

  • I'm glad I don't use hydrocarabons in my designs after reading that.
    Special interests: anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; sulphate-free shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics.
  • It doesn't just apply to hydrocarbons. Any oily material soaked on to an absorbent surface can behave in a similar way - and it doesn't necessarily need a source of flame to initiate a conflagration.

    One company I worked for had a small spillage (10 or so litres)  of a vegetable oil mixture which they collected up using old pieces of cotton cloth which was then left in a steel drum over night. During that time an oxidation reaction began between the (unsaturated) oil and air. Being more or less contained in the drum, the mixture became hotter and hotter thus the reaction became faster and faster and it caught alight.

    Fortunately the damage sustained was fairly minor but it certainly pays to be aware of these possibilities.
  • @Belassi - I bet you use hydrocarbons. Any compound that contains hydrogen and carbon is a hydrocarbon.

  • @Perry strictly speaking, a hydrocarbon is a compound which contains only hydrogen and carbon
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • Exactly. What Bill said is what I meant. I use no hydrocarbons. "Mineral oil" on a label is anathema to me.
    Special interests: anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; sulphate-free shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics.
  • My take on this is that the primary issue is using an oil-based ingredient that can't be washed out. Using bees wax or carnauba instead of paraffin would not fix this problem. 

    Paraffin, however, is very cheap. Replacing it will cost a lot of money.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • I can't see this problem easily being caused by vegetable oils. Paraffin is quite flammable; make a film of it on a hard surface and you can easily ignite it. Make a film of Argan oil on a surface and you'll have a pretty difficult job to ignite it. Flashpoint of coconut oil around 270C, and it's regarded as a low flashpoint veg oil; paraffin flashpoint 170C. I also noted that according to IARC paraffin is a human carcinogen.
    Special interests: anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; sulphate-free shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics.
  • I am seriously thinking of making some ignition tests as a video since this is obviously becoming newsworthy. Have to ask my wife: "Sandra, I just want to borrow your arm for a minute. I'm going to put a cream on it. And see if I can set it on fire."
    Special interests: anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; sulphate-free shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics.
  • edited March 20
    @Bobzchemist and light mineral oil is by far the most widely used oil in emollient creams, so it has been a causative vector in a large proportion of incidents due to its high usage level rather than any inherent hazard

    but points as subtle as this are generally lost on the media and the general public

    @Belassi pharmaceutical grades are not carcinogenic, though

    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • What I gathered from the article was that clothing/bedding was getting saturated with emollient residue that couldn't be washed out, making the cloth extremely flammable, particularly after repeated use.

    Light mineral oil *should* wash out. I'm assuming, I think, that the paraffin referred to is paraffin wax and not mineral oil. If they're actually talking about mineral oil, then who ever is doing the laundry has made fatal errors. But I'm sure that the correlation between wide use and incidents is real as well.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • How many of you heard that on the tv news? Where I live I have never heard anything like it, but it does not mean that it has not happened.
    I'm remembering a program of "paranormal things" where they investigated people who died from a self combustion that occurred suddenly. They focused this like something mysterious, I think this link could answer many of their questions :)
  • I agree about your spontaneous combustion thoughts, Kloe.
    Charles Dickens wrote about the phenomenon and, thinking about the hygiene practices of people at that time and earlier, it could well be that accumulated sebum produced by the body and absorbed into clothing or the large amounts of goose grease that was applied to bodies to "keep out the cold" - neither of these materials being removed with any enthusiasm - could well have acted as wicks to encourage burning from a stray spark, ember or flame.
  • @Bobzchemist it could also mean petrolatum, which is described as "white/yellow soft paraffin" in the British Pharmacopoeia, and more difficult to wash out
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • He used to post in this forum more but stopped when he moved to the HI&I industry.  But here is a response from chemist Duncan Abbot that he had put on Facebook.  I thought it was pretty enlightening.

    ---------------

    Err, yes no , maybe – It’s a bit more complicated than that.
    Firstly they go on and on about “Paraffin” – and everyone will think of Kerosine / Esso Blue, whatever they put in camping stoves and the like.

    Errrr No.

    They are referring to materials like mineral oil (Baby oil is this with a dab o fragrance, and things like Vaseline) Not that flammable – yes they will burn, but they need a wick to do so convincingly – i.e. soaked sheets
    If that happens, and the sheets or clothing are cotton based: well that’s not going to end well, as loads of kids found out in the 70’s with cotton nighties catching fire, with horrible results, before flame retardants were legally mandated for kids night clothing.

    Secondly there is a big case for patient hygiene. If the sheets and clothing are that saturated with oil, they should be changed regularly, and washed, with a decent laundry detergent, that will suspend and remove oily residues. I am aware of a case where vegetable based massage oils have soaked into spa towels, they were laundered using cheap laundry detergent, and then ignited once they were removed from the tumble dryer.

    The solution: Change your sheets regularly, Use a decent detergent, and a bunch of it. Hospitals should know this.

    So this sensational story boils down to three things.

    If you have to use emollients like E45, wash your sheets and nightclothes regularly using a decent detergent, on a good old hotwash, and if you see any staining from oil, wash them again.

    Naked flames, and infirm patients never mix at the best of times
    BBC Journalists need to get in touch with some-one with a bit of common sense and a modicum of science education
  • He put it much better than I could have
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
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