Are Essential Oils Flammable In The Dryer? (Using Oils Safely)
Natural remedies have become popular in the last decade, and with good reason! They cut down on the damage to the environment, and they help with our overall wellness. When it comes to laundry, dryer sheets are wasteful and can be irritating to our skin. So, naturally, people shift towards using essential oils instead. However, the question is, can you use essential oils in the dryer?
In short, the answer is no; you should not put essential oils into the dryer. This is because they are flammable and run the risk of catching fire. While it would make your clothes smell lovely, it’s just not safe. However, there are some ways around that.
This article will discuss the risks and explain why it’s not a good idea to put essential oils in the dryer. We know this may be frustrating for some; however, we provide you with an alternative so you can enjoy some nice, fresh-smelling laundry.
Using Essential Oils In The Dryer
These days, more people seem to believe that putting essential oils in a dryer is a good idea. It’s clear that essential oils are inflammable and can ignite at low temperatures. So, we need to ask, are we creating a risk by adding just a few drops?
The critical thing to think about is the flashpoint. This is the temperature at which the oil creates enough vapor for it to be ignited by heat or a spark. The flashpoint is distinct from the fire point. The flashpoint requires a lower temperature and may not cause a lasting fire.
Why The Flashpoint Matters For Laundry
Dryers on low heat settings typically run at approximately 125 F. In contrast, on medium to high heat, it is closer to 135 F. Certain 120V dryers may run at temperatures of up to 145 F. There are certain oils that have flashpoints that range from 102 F to 130 F, such as:
These oils tend to be the so-called “freshening” oils. There’s no doubt that the ignition of the oil vapor is a risk. Certain oils have a low enough flashpoint, and dryers are hot enough to cause problems. It has to be said that although this risk exists in theory, many people use essential oils in their dryer without negative consequences.
Bottom Line: Will Oils Start A Fire?
Often, people place the oils on dryer sheets or wool balls. However, reports do exist of fires linked to essential oils being used in dryers. There are even documented cases of soiled massage towels catching fire inside a hot vehicle –though these are mostly related to carrier oils. So, the dilemma is, can a couple of drops do any harm? Would they be sufficient enough to start a fire?
While it’s unlikely, you may want to ask yourself: If you had a couple of drops of kerosene, which has a flashpoint of 115F on your clothes, would you risk putting them into a hot dryer? If you would be comfortable with that decision, compare the flashpoint of kerosene to the flashpoint of essential oils, and take it from there.
Using Essential Oils In The Washing Machine
Controversial as this may be, there is no value in adding essential oils to your washing machine. Experts in firefighting say that clothes with oils (carrier oils and essential oils) need to be washed at temperatures no lower than 104 F (40 C).
The clothing with oils should be washed at higher temperatures because unless the water is at least this hot, any oils may not combine effectively with the laundry detergent. Therefore, they won’t dissolve and be removed from the clothing.
Cleanliness is not the only reason for this advice. When you wash clothes, which have oil on them at lower temperatures, you increase the risk of fire inside your clothes dryer.
The Best Way To Scent Your Laundry
If you prefer to err on the side of caution and make the decision not to scent your laundry with essential oils, is there a better alternative? The good news is – yes, there is!
Using simple DIY or crafting skills, make tiny sachets, fill them with dried herbs, and place them in your drawers and closets. You can also put some drops of essential oils on a small piece of cotton or other natural fiber, then place the sachets wherever you store your clean laundry.
Why Is This Preferable?
- No fire risks
- Just a couple of drops of oil will last for weeks
- Less wasteful, more sustainable, and cheaper
- Because your clothes are next to the scent for longer, they’ll carry the fragrance when you put them on.
It’s your choice: scent some drawers and leave others neutral. Especially useful if your employer has a fragrance-free policy. So, while you can debate whether it’s good to use essential oils in your dryer, by scenting your drawers and closets, you’ll ensure you’re safe and save money by using less oil in the long run.
A Few Things You Should Know About Essential Oils
Essential oils are categorized as Class 3 Flammable Liquids. Additional precautions have to be taken when transporting them, whether by air, land, or sea. These include:
- Tea Tree
- Citrus Oil such as Lemon, Grapefruit, Bergamot, Orange
If they’re not safe during shipment, why would they be safe to use in your dryer?
Be aware that exposure to some essential oils is a cause of contact dermatitis. They can be detrimental to rubber and certain plastics, so you must take care and select the correct equipment when handling them.
Avoid essential oils having direct contact with your skin. Use appropriate gloves unless you have another suitable method of filling the container with oil, such as a bottling machine.
Certain essential oils are found as agents to flavor foods and beverages. When used this way, manufacturers are required to adhere to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations and flavoring standards.
- If using for medicinal purposes, pharmacopeia standards should be adhered to.
- It is also important to note that certain oils are toxic to domestic animals, with cats being the most at risk.
Essential oils can pose a serious risk to pregnant women if ingested. Some are considered to increase the risk of miscarriage, even at a dose of 0.5ml-10 ml, so should never be used during pregnancy.
People who experience allergic reactions to nuts or other products should take all necessary precautions. This is to ensure that any essential oils they buy haven’t been packaged or processed in a facility where their allergen is also produced or packaged.
How safe are oil diffusers?
Oil diffusers are usually safe to use, although you should always make a point to read the safety manual. By following the guidelines, you can ensure the maximum amount of safety while using the diffuser.
Are Essential Oils flammable?
Yes, essential oils are flammable! Ones such as tea tree, lavender, and citrus-based oils have a flashpoint of around 122 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not use them around an open fire or in your dryer!
What are essential oils suitable for dryer balls?
None. Essential oils should not be used in your dryer or washer. However, you can dab a dryer ball or a cotton ball with some oil and place it in your dresser without touching your clothing. Your clothes will absorb the scent without absorbing the oil, which takes away the risk of fire.
Our Take On It
Technically, you could use essential oils in your dryer. However, due to the risks associated with that, we think it’s better that you use an alternative method to keep your clothing smelling clean and fresh. The same goes for using essential oils in your washer as well– It’s a no go.
However, there are plenty of fantastic ways to use essential oils to scent your clothing without risking a fire to your home. We advise you to find alternative methods which work just as good! This way, you risk burning your house down, but you still get the benefit of wonderful smelling laundry. Who doesn’t love that!?
Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.
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