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Is Perfume Flammable?

Perfumes are artwork that define style and signature. They are also a sign of wealth especially if the perfume is Golden Delicious by DKNY or Opera Prima by Bulgari that goes for a whooping$235,000 . But , what about its safety. Will a perfume catch fire when exposed to heat or light?

Perfume can catch fire when exposed to heat and fire sparks due to its alcohol content. The alcohol in perfume is highly flammable and susceptible to ignition. To avoid accidents, keep your perfumes away from all sources of heat.

That’s not all, in this post, I will tell you Safe Storage Practices to Prevent Perfume from Catching Fire and how you can safely ship perfumes domestically or internationally.

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What are the Common Ingredients Found in Perfumes?

Image: Glamour UK

Perfumes are complex compositions of different various ingredients that are mixed to get a beautiful scent. These ingredients can be categorized into natural ingredients, animal products and synthetic products;

Natural Ingredients
( Leaves, Roots, Spices, Wood, Flowers)
Animal ProductsSynthetic Products
Rose OilAmbergrisIso E Super( Source)
Jasmine ExtractCivetAlcohol
Lavender OilMuskAmbroxan
Sandalwood OilCastorGalaxolide
Bergamot OilCoumarin
Citrus Essential OilsVanillin
Vanilla ExtractAldehyde C-12 MNA
Patchouli OilCalone
Ylang-Ylang OilLilial
Vetiver OilEthyl Maltol

What Factors Contribute to the Flammability of Perfume?

1) Fragrance Oils

Fragrance oils, being the primary components of perfumes, play a significant role in their flammability. They contain a mixture of aromatic compounds, some of which can be volatile and highly flammable.

These oils have a lower flash point, making them susceptible to catching fire when exposed to an ignition source.

Even just the presence of volatile aromatic compounds in fragrance oils increase the risk of flammability.

You should emphasize the importance of handling perfumes with care and keeping them away from open flames or potential sources of sparks. If you have ever thought of freezing your perfumes, check out this article.

2) The Presence of Alcohol

The presence of alcohol in perfumes significantly contributes to their flammability. Alcohol( ethanol) is used as a solvent in perfumes to dissolve fragrance oils( Source) and facilitate their dispersion.

Perfumes, due to their alcohol content, have a relatively low ignition temperature. This means that they can ignite at a temperature as low as 180°F (82°C).

This makes it crucial to handle perfumes with care, especially in the presence of heat sources or open flames, to prevent accidents or fires.

Despite not being as explosive as ethanol, other types of alcohol such as denatured alcohol, SD alcohol (Specially Denatured alcohol), ethyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol can still pose risks.

While their flammability may vary, they all have the potential to contribute to the overall flammability of perfumes or colognes.

To ensure safety ,keep them away from open flames, sparks, and areas with potential sources of ignition.

3) Fixatives

Fixatives are ingredients that slow down the evaporation of volatile fragrance components, helping the scent to last longer on the skin.

Some common fixatives, such as resins, waxes ,  balsams, and certain synthetic compounds, can possess flammable properties.

When perfumes contain these fixatives, the flammability risk increases( Source).

If exposed to an ignition source, the presence of flammable fixatives can enhance the potential for a perfume to catch fire.

It’s crucial to handle and store perfumes safely, considering the presence of fixatives and other flammable ingredients.

4) Essential Oils

Essential oils are not highly flammable on their own per se, but they can still contribute to the flammability of perfumes due to their volatile nature.

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts, and some of them may have low flash points, making them more susceptible to catching fire.

This happens when essential oils are blended with alcohol and other flammable ingredients in perfumes. Here’s a list of essential oils with low flash points include;

  • Lemon Essential Oil: It has a flash point of around 109°F (49°C). Lemon essential oil is considered relatively low in flammability.( Source)
  • Orange Essential Oil: This essential oil has a flash point of approximately 111°F-130 (44°C) making it another example of an essential oil with a relatively low flash point.
  • Eucalyptus Essential Oil: It has a flash point around 130°F (49°C). When compared compared to lemon and orange essential oils, it is higher but still considered relatively low in terms of flammability.

5) Preservatives

Preservatives play a crucial role in perfumes by preventing the growth of bacteria and ensuring the stability of the product.

They are commonly added to maintain the integrity and quality of the perfume over time. Preservatives in perfumes include; parabens, phenoxyethanol and benzyl alcohol( Source).

However, preservatives in fragrances do not contribute to the flammability of perfumes. The flammability comes from the presence of alcohol used as a solvent to dissolve fragrance ingredients. Alcohol evaporates quickly and is highly flammable, posing a fire hazard.

What is the Purpose of Alcohol in Perfume Formulation?

Alcohol is an essential ingredient in perfume formulation for several reasons. It works as a solvent that helps in dissolving and extracting the aromatic compounds.

This allows perfumers to create a balanced and harmonious blend of scents. Additionally, alcohol acts as a carrier for the fragrance, allowing it to evaporate quickly upon application, releasing the scent notes into the air.

Perfumers carefully select the type and concentration of alcohol to ensure optimal diffusion, projection, and longevity of the fragrance.

Moreover, alcohol also helps to preserve the perfume by inhibiting the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms, maintaining its stability and shelf life.

The Main Difference Between Alcohol and Perfumers Alcohol Lies in Their Composition and Purpose

Alcohol, in a general sense, refers to a broad category of organic compounds that possess a hydroxyl (-OH) functional group.

It includes types such as ; ethanol, isopropyl alcohol and denatured alcohol. You can find this alcohol in solvents, disinfectants, and antiseptics and in a wide range of products beyond perfumes.

On the other hand, Perfumers Alcohol is a specific type of alcohol formulation that is specifically crafted for use in perfumery.

It is a blend of high-proof ethanol and sometimes includes a small amount of isopropyl alcohol.

Perfumers Alcohol is designed to provide an ideal solvent for dissolving fragrance ingredients and creating perfumes.

It typically has a neutral odor and a high alcohol content, ensuring efficient extraction and evaporation of scent notes.

At What Temperature Is Perfume Flammable?

A perfume will catch a fire at a temperature of 180°F (82°C).

This means that if exposed to an open flame or heat source at or above this temperature, the alcohol content in the perfume can catch fire.

It is crucial to handle and store perfumes away from high temperatures, flames, and sources of ignition to prevent accidents.

What Happens When Perfume Is Exposed to Light?

While perfume will not catch fire when exposed to sunlight, it can undergo chemical reactions that can alter its fragrance and overall quality.

When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light , these compounds can break down and cause changes or loss of scent.

The photodegradation process can also result in the oxidation of certain ingredients, causing the perfume to develop an unpleasant odor or become rancid.

To extend it’s shelf life, store your perfumes in opaque or dark-colored bottles and keep them in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.

What About Heat, Can Perfume Easily Explode or Catch Fire?

Perfume generally does not easily explode or catch fire near typical levels of heat. But, they do contain alcohol, which is flammable.

While perfume itself has a relatively low ignition point, it requires an open flame, sparks, or extremely high heat to potentially ignite.

Under normal conditions of use and storage, the risk of perfume catching fire is minimal.

For your safety, handle perfumes responsibly, keep them away from sources of ignition and exercise caution when using them near open flames or high heat sources.

Does Transporting Perfume Pose any Hazards?

Transporting perfume poses a significant risk of fires or explosions due to the highly flammable nature of its alcohol content.

When exposed to heat, sparks, or open flames during the transportation process, the perfume can become ignited, resulting in potentially catastrophic fire or explosion incidents.

This risk arises from the volatile nature of perfumes, which makes them susceptible to rapid ignition and propagation of flames.

It is crucial to handle perfume shipments with utmost care, ensuring they are kept away from heat sources and properly secured to prevent accidental exposure to ignition sources.

Can I Ship Perfume through the United States Postal Service or  UK’s Royal Mail?

Postal services impose restrictions on shipping perfume due to its flammable properties and alcohol content.

For instance, both Royal Mail and USPS prohibit the international shipment of perfumes containing alcohol and restrict their domestic transport by air( Source).

Additionally, DHL, FedEx, TNT, and other courier services do not also accept shipments containing perfume as part of their content.

However, within the UK and the USA, perfumes with alcohol can still be shipped using ground transport.

There are limitations though on the quantity of liquids allowed in a single parcel, so verify the specific guidelines with the postal service you intend to use prior to sending your fragrances.

Can Perfume Be Taken on a Plane?

You can bring perfume with you when travelling on a plane, either in your carry-on or checked luggage.

However, there are specific guidelines you must follow such as the 3-1-1 rule .The 3-1-1 rule that was established by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) mandates that any liquids, aerosols, and gels carried in carry-on bags must adhere to specific regulations( Source: TSA).

I have a full article on this, you can check it out here.

This means that the containers holding perfume must have a maximum capacity of 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less.

Furthermore, these containers must be placed in a clear, plastic, quart-sized bag. This bag should be presented separately for inspection at the security checkpoint, regardless of whether you have TSA precheck.

In addition to the TSA regulations, there are also specific rules applicable to carrying perfume in carry-on luggage at UK airports.

Perfume must be packed in separate 100ml containers and placed inside a clear plastic bag not exceeding the size of 20 x 20cm. The total liquid allowance is limited to one litre.(Source: Gov.Uk)

Is It Safe To Leave Perfume In The Car?

Leaving perfume in the car is an absolute recipe for ruining your fragrance!. Cars are subjected to fluctuating temperatures, especially in hot weather conditions.

Exposure to these high temperatures can accelerate the chemical reactions in perfume and cause it to degrade more rapidly, altering its fragrance and overall quality. Perfumes also do contain alcohol, which is highly flammable.

In the intense heat of a car, the alcohol content can increase the risk of the perfume catching fire if exposed to an open flame or sparks.

Additionally, sunlight can penetrate car windows, exposing the perfume to UV radiation. UV light can cause photodegradation, breaking down the delicate aromatic compounds in the perfume, leading to changes or loss of scent.

Pro-Expert Tip: To ensure you always have a fragrance within reach while avoiding the risks of leaving them in your car, consider purchasing small decant bottles from Amazon or Ebay. These bottles range from 2.5ml all the way up to 60ml. This will allow you to carry a portable amount of your favorite scent wherever you go.

Does Fragrance Have an Expiry Date?

Just like any other beauty products, perfumes do expire. While they may not have a strict expiry date printed on the bottle, perfumes can degrade and lose their original scent over time.

On average, you should expect a perfume to have a shelf life of three to five years. Several factors contribute to perfume expiration, including exposure to air, light, and heat.

These elements can cause the fragrance molecules to break down, resulting in a less vibrant and pleasant scent.

There are simple ways to tell if your perfume is expired. If the scent has changed significantly, smells off or unpleasant, or if the color has darkened or become cloudy, it is likely past its prime.

If your perfume no longer lasts as long on your skin or has become weaker in intensity, it may be an indication that it has expired.

To ensure the best experience and longevity of your perfume, it is recommended to use it within its estimated shelf life and pay attention to any signs of expiration.

Does Perfume Evaporate?

Perfume evaporates due to the presence of volatile molecules in its composition.

They are formulated with a mixture of fragrance ingredients dissolved in a solvent, often alcohol that will readily transition from a liquid state to a gaseous state at room temperature.

Take for instance skin application; when perfume is applied to the skin or sprayed into the air, the alcohol in the solution quickly evaporates.

The rate of evaporation will depend on concentration of volatile molecules, the ambient temperature, humidity and air circulation.

This also explains why colognes evaporate faster than perfumes, primarily due to differences in their formulation and concentration of fragrance oils( Source).

Colognes have a lower concentration of aromatic compounds( 2% to 5%) compared to perfumes, which can contain higher concentrations ranging from 15% to 40%.

The lower concentration of fragrance oils in colognes means there is a higher proportion of alcohol or other solvents. Since alcohol evaporates more quickly than the aromatic compounds, colognes evaporate faster.

Are All Perfumes Flammable?

Not all perfumes are flammable, as it depends on their specific formulation and alcohol content. Perfumes with a higher concentration of alcohol are most likely to catch a fire. While alcohol-free perfumes do have lower risk of flammability.

However, even alcohol-free perfumes can still catch fire under certain circumstances. Certain ingredients in perfumes, such as oils and other flammable components, can still contribute to the potential for ignition if exposed to an open flame, sparks, or heat sources.

Therefore, it is crucial to handle all perfumes, including alcohol-free variants, with caution and keep them away from potential ignition sources.

What are Safe Storage Practices to Prevent Perfume from Catching Fire?

Now that you know you are aware of a potential flammability, here are some ways you can take to ensure your fragrances do not catch fire:

  • Store in a cool, dry place: This is paramount. You should keep your valuable perfumes in a location that is cool and dry, away from direct sunlight, heat sources, or even open flames. Elevated temperatures can increase the risk of evaporation and potential ignition.
  • Use proper containers: It is crucial to store perfumes in their original, tightly sealed containers. Containers can help minimize the risk of leakage and maintain the integrity of the product.
  • Avoid excessive shaking: Handle and transport perfume bottles with care. You should avoid vigorous shaking. Friction from shaking can generate heat, which might lead to a higher risk of combustion.
  • Keep away from ignition sources: Perfumes should always be kept away from open flames, sparks, cigarettes, and any other potential sources of ignition. These can trigger combustion if they come into contact with the flammable components in the perfume.
  • Consider secondary storage: For added safety, especially if you have a significant quantity of perfumes, store perfumes in a fireproof cabinet or container designed for the storage of flammable substances.
  • Follow local regulations: Stay informed about any local regulations or guidelines regarding the storage of flammable materials like perfume.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Perfume Made up of?

Perfumes contain extract oils such as Jasmine, Bergamot or Sandalwood. It can also contain animal products such as musk , Ambergris and alcohol.

Is Perfume Flammable or Explosive?

Perfume is highly flammable because it contains alcohol. The alcohol in perfume can ignite when exposed to heat, sparks, or open flames, which poses a fire hazard.

What Happens When You Put Perfume in Fire?

It will catch afire. When perfume is exposed to fire, the alcohol content in the perfume can ignite, leading to a flame. Better be safe than sorry by keeping your fragrances away from fire.


There you have it buddy—when it comes to perfumes or colognes, store them away from sunlight and any potential sources of fire ignitions. If you follow these proper storage practices, you will minimize the risk of flammability.

By Raphaël John

Raphaël John is a highly skilled fragrance writer who resides in the bustling city of New York. Born and raised in the city, Raphaël has always been fascinated by the art of scent and how it can be used to evoke emotions, memories, and experiences. As a fragrance writer, Raphaël possesses a unique ability to capture the essence of a scent and transform it into captivating and evocative prose.

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