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In common parlance, flammability is the chemical property of gaseous, liquid and solid substances to react with the oxygen in the air, releasing radiation energy or heat , and to continue burning after the ignition, even if the ignition source is removed. The flammability of a substance is a prerequisite for combustion .

Classification of substances

The classification of substances based on their flammability is an important task in fire protection . An initial classification is made as to whether the substance is flammable or non-flammable . A substance that is flame-retardant or flame-retardant according to DIN EN 13501 or DIN 4102 does not continue to burn after ignition as soon as the supply of heat ceases. A non-flammable material can neither be ignited nor burned. The flash point , the fire point and the ignition temperature of a substance are decisive for the fire behavior . The flammability is of particular importance with building materials (DIN EN 13501 or DIN 4102), with plastics and textiles and can in many cases be reduced with flame retardants . The oxygen index can be used as a measure of the flammability .

A property of the material that is more important for everyday use or for fire departments is its flammability . Most organic compounds are flammable, but some plastics are flame retardant and can therefore be used from a fire protection perspective. To check the burning behavior of polymers , the internationally common flammability test according to UL94 is usually carried out. However, there are a number of other test methods such as DIN 4102 and ASTM D635. All processes are carried out on test specimens with defined dimensions, which is why the results cannot easily be transferred to molded parts.


Oxygen-saturated compounds like dinitrogen pentoxide can at most release oxygen, but no longer absorb it. Therefore they are not flammable.

Methane reacts with the oxygen in the air, releasing light and heat to form carbon dioxide and water and is therefore flammable.

Many inorganic substances such as salts and oxides, but also noble gases and noble metals, are not flammable.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Henry Portz: Fire and Explosion Protection from AZ Explanation of terms and fire protection characteristics . Springer-Verlag, 2015, ISBN 978-3-322-80197-5 , pp. 36 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  2. a b entry on flammability. In: Römpp Online . Georg Thieme Verlag, accessed on February 12, 2017.
  3. Manufacturing and Operating Technology Manual . Springer-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-322-84910-6 , pp. 114 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  4. ^ Gisbert Rodewald: fire theory . W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 2006, ISBN 978-3-17-019129-7 , pp. 129 ( limited preview in Google Book search).