Is Paint Flammable or Combustible? Acrylic, Oil, Latex and Mediums Explained

When considering DIY home renovations like decorating and furnishing the walls, floors, ceilings, or even the fireplace, this question constantly comes to mind. Is paint flammable or combustible? If so, how similar are they? Unfortunately, there are many things you could miss or fail to comprehend while rushing to finish your home projects. 

Paints are flammable in general, although it depends on the chemical components it contains. Oil-based paints are flammable only when wet, whereas latex, acrylic and water-based paints are not flammable while wet, but become combustible when dry.

Pay attention as we discuss which paints are flammable and combustible or whether or not you should use them on your DIY home projects, so tune in!

Table of content:


Flammable vs Combustible: same thing?

Flammable and combustible are NOT the same, even though sometimes used synonymously. 

FlammableCombustible
– Burns at room temperatures 22 Β°C – 37.8C max (72 Β°-100F) – it will catch fire with a lighter.
– Low flash point
– Ex., wet oil-based paints, spray paints, spirits, and solvents
– These burn at higher temperatures 37,8 to 93,3 C (100-200F). Need heat to burn.
– Higher flashpoints (above 100Β°F)
– Ex., most dried paints

Combustible liquids require heat to ignite, whereas flammable liquids burn at room temperature. Therefore, the temperatures required by flammable and combustible materials to ignite a fire are different. 

According to NFPA, when exposed to an ignition source, flammables will ignite at lower temperatures of 37.8 ΒΊC than combustibles. At the same time, a substance is deemed combustible if its flash point is more than 37.8 ΒΊC but lower than 93.3 ΒΊC.

It is important to know that there are also fire-retardant paints, that are safe to use on barbecues, radiators, and close to heat sources. Those paint will be specifically labeled as fire-resistant, most acrylics or oils are not considered fire-retardant.


flammable or combustible Paints [Full Table]?Β 

How to easily tell if something is flammable or not? Read the label first, if the paint you are about to buy is water-based it will act like acrylic paint – non-flammable while wet, but combustible when dry. If you found a paint or a medium that contains solvents, spirits, alcohol, or oils – they will be flammable while wet and safe once they dry.

We have created a flammability comparison table for paints to make it much more straightforward. Here’s a brief guide to help you determine whether the paint is flammable or combustible.

As you can see the most fire-safe paint is chalk paint. Most wall paints are emulsion or latex paints which makes them safe to use indoors as well.

Type of PaintFlammable When WetFlammable When DryCombustible
Oil-Based Paintβœ”βœ˜βœ”
Water-based Paintsβœ˜βœ”βœ”
Acrylic Paintβœ˜βœ”βœ”
Acrylic Latex Paintβœ˜βœ˜βœ”
Water-based Enamel Paintβœ˜βœ”βœ”
Oil- or Solvent-Based Enamel Paintβœ”βœ˜βœ”
Acrylic Paint Fumes βœ”βœ”βœ˜
Chalk Paint βœ˜βœ˜βœ˜
Spray Paintβœ”βœ˜βœ”
Emulsion Paintβœ˜βœ”
*There are fire-retardant emulsion paints
βœ”
Paint Thinner βœ”βœ˜βœ”
Acrylic Lacquer Paint (spray)βœ”βœ˜βœ”
Acrylic Sealerβœ”βœ˜βœ”
Tamiya Acrylic Paintβœ˜βœ”βœ”
Liquitex Acrylic Paintβœ˜βœ”βœ”

Is acrylic Paint flammable?

Acrylic paints made with water are not flammable while wet.

Since acrylic paint uses acrylic resins and acrylic polymer emulsion as binders and water as a solvent, it is predominantly water-based paint. Therefore, it is not flammable when wet, but the water particle evaporates as it dries, changing its characteristics – it forms a thin plastic film. Dried acrylic paint consequently turns flammable.

Dried acrylic paint will burn at about 560 degrees Fahrenheit (293.3 degrees Celsius), the same as acrylic resin and then it starts to melt. Dried acrylic painting can catch fire and is combustible as it also has paper or canvas and wooden support underneath.

Is Paint Flammable

Is acrylic Paint combustible?

Because it can burn, acrylic paint is regarded as a combustible liquid. Nevertheless, water-based paints like acrylics are less combustible than oil or spray varieties of paint.

Therefore, it is suggested that you always observe the safety recommendations on the package while using paint of any kind. In addition, ensure you are in a well-ventilated location and do not smoke when using flammable liquids like acrylic paint.


Is acrylic paint flammable when dry?

It’s true that dried acrylic paint has the potential to catch fire and is indeed flammable or combustible. However, although it is not considered hazardous, it burns more slowly than paints with an oil base.

Acrylic paint is made by suspending pigments in an emulsion of synthetic polymers. The polymeric polymer acrylate creates cross-links that provide an insoluble layer as the water in the paint evaporates during the drying process.

Afterward, the paint transforms completely into another substance when it dries. Since the solid is polymeric, its current state makes it combustible. 


Are Acrylic Paint Fumes Flammable?

Some acrylic paint fumes can potentially catch fire and are considered flammable. Typically, regular water-based acrylics we use for painting don’t release any flammable toxic fumes.Β 

The majority of acrylic paint manufacturers are trying to make paints flame-retardant. On the other hand, hazardous compounds such as ammonia, formaldehyde, and metallic pigments or mercury may still be present in some paints.


Is acrylic latex Paint flammable?

No, latex paint is not flammable while wet, but combustible and flammable once dried. According to HMIS standards, latex is combustible as a hardened polymer even though it is not flammable in its liquid state. Same as acrylic paint. 

A synthetic latex binder and titanium dioxide as a pigment are both used in acrylic latex paint. It is a water-based paint that is non-flammable in a liquid state since water serves as the “solvent”. 

Because latex paint has flammability flashpoints above 200 Β°F (93 Β°C), there is a remote possibility that it will catch fire. However, you’ll find that some latex paint additives can catch fire, mainly when used with aerosolized paint. 


Is acrylic enamel Paint flammable?

According to the NFPA, acrylic enamel paint is non-inflammable as it is water-based. But just as acrylics enamel paint will become combustible once it dries. Don’t worry, it has a low hazard risk and a flammability rank of 1 with a flashpoint of 210 degrees Β°F (98.9 degrees Β°C).

There are also oil or solvent-based enamel paints that vice versa is flammable while wet, but become safe once cured.


What about other paints and mediums?

Other paints and mediums contain certain hazardous substances and can potentially be flammable. Once more, it will depend on these materials’ chemical properties.

  • Linseed oil

Linseed oil and wood stains with an oil base can burn without creating a spark. However, these oil-based wood stains can catch fire and burn even in the absence of a spark, according to authorities. It is combustible as well.

  • Mediums and tools for painting

Paper, canvas, wooden easels and frames, chairs, and brushes are combustible. They won’t spontaneously catch fire while, but they can burn if you put a fire beneath them for a considerable time.

Related: 14 Tips How to Clean Acrylic Paint Brushes [The Ultimate Cleaning Guide]

  • Quick-drying media

Even though the solvents are practically odorless, you should work in a well-ventilated area because they are toxic and flammable.

Is chalk Paint flammable?

Chalk paints are popular for painting walls and furniture. Chalk paint is not flammable nor combustible, wet or dry. Therefore, they may be used safely around fireplaces, radiators, and hearths. However, they are not categorized as fire retardant paints, even though some people say otherwise!

Additionally, chalk paint can be used indoors or outdoors on various surfaces, including floors, walls, wood, concrete, metal, matt plastic, earthenware, brick, and stone. Even painting furniture and dying textiles are also possible with it.

Related: 15 Tested Chalk Paint Brushes & Best Brush for Chalk Paint in 2022


Is spray Paint flammable?

Since spray paint (like Rust-Oleum) is composed of combustible chemical vapors from aerosol goods, fire can start if it comes into contact with a flame and is flammable. Spray paint fumes paint can be flammable as well.Β 

Within 30 minutes of spraying, just the paint is left in the aerosol, which is generally flammable until the propellants dissipate. The paint is no longer flammable after drying, though, and won’t catch fire until heated to high temperatures.


Is oil paint flammable?

According to OSHA, oil-based paints are combustible and flammable while wet because they have a lot of solvents in them. Remember that any paint product has a genuine possibility of a fire or explosion.

Additionally, oil-based paints are flammable because of the binder, a similar chemical to paint thinner. However, the paint coating is no longer combustible when the binder solvent has evaporated and the paint is dry. Because they are flammable, oil-based paint and its cleansers pose a fire risk. 

Furthermore, rags that remove oil-based paints can readily catch fire or spontaneously combust if stored incorrectly. Of course, they won’t randomly catch fire in the tubes or on your palette, but they can burn for a considerable time if you put a fire underneath them.


Is emulsion Paint flammable?

Because it doesn’t contain solvents, wet emulsion paint is never flammable. Instead, the water functions as the solvent and the paint molecules are suspended inside it. Once dried, emulsion paint is lightly combustible just as acrylic latex and regular acrylics. 

Emulsion paint can expire after a specific period (a few years), just like many other paint products that use water. Therefore, the emulsion must contain a use-by date that indicates when you should employ it for optimum outcomes.

As a general rule, emulsion should never be poured down a sink, bathtub, or drain and should always be appropriately disposed of.


Is Paint thinner flammable?

According to OSHA, paint thinner, also known as mineral spirits, is a flammable substance. It is a flammable liquid because it can burn and has a flashpoint below 199.4 degrees Β°F.

Paint thinner is frequently used to make oil-based paints thinner, rewet dried paint, or clean paint tools, including rollers, brushes, and application equipment. Although undoubtedly helpful, some compounds are highly poisonous and can be fatal if used or disposed of improperly.


Is acrylic lacquer flammable?

Acrylic lacquer gives off hazardous fumes and is highly flammable. Additionally, brushable lacquer compounds are available, although their use is constrained by the fact that sprayers are often required for application. 

Lacquer also tends to wash out over time, although it generally remains clear for a long time. It dries quickly, is exceptionally durable, and is scratch-resistant.


Is acrylic sealer flammable when dry?

Yes, acrylic paint sealer is flammable at 110Β°F high temperatures. It might also catch fire if put close to an open flame or a fireplace.

In addition, solvent-based sealers can be ignited, even from a tiny spark, if used in an inadequately ventilated environment. They are also harmful to human health.

Some of its hazards are harmful if inhaled and in contact with the skin and can irritate the skin. Therefore, it is advised to avoid breathing in dust, fumes, and vapors and stay away from heat, sparks, open flames, and hot surfaces.

Related: How to Varnish an Acrylic Painting


Why flammable Paint is dangerous? 5 main hazards

Due to the compressed gas used, combustible or corrosive paint is regulated as a hazardous item and categorized as a Dangerous Good. 

Some of these can be harmful to you since they can lead to various short- and long-term health issues:

  1. Ammonia

A small amount of ammonia is rarely present in acrylic paint fumes. Ammonia may irritate some delicate people’s eyes, nose, and throat. 

  1. Allergic Reactions

Some paints have a special preservative to stop bacteria or mold formation. However, some people may experience allergic reactions to certain preservatives, pigments, and additives even in tiny amounts.

Related: Can You Put Acrylic Paint On Your Face & Body? 5 Safest Body Paint Included

  1. Damage Bone Marrow

Epoxy paints contain a hardener component and an epoxy resin component that contains the color. Diglycidyl ethers, irritants, and putative carcinogens that may damage bone marrow may be present in the epoxy resin. 

  1. Serious Inhalation Hazard

Beyond pigments and solvents, aerosol spray paints also pose a risk. This is because they contain highly flammable propellants, typically isobutane and propane, which have started numerous fires. 

  1. Asthma Triggers

Dusty chalks can occasionally cause problems for those who have asthma. However, this is a general dust reaction rather than a poisonous one.


Safety tips for working with Paint and torch or heat

To save yourself and your family, you must take specific precautions and safety procedures when painting indoors.

Tip 1. Work in a Properly Ventilated Setting

When using paint, you must ensure the workspace has enough ventilation. For example, maintain an open window and door to encourage optimal airflow. 

Tip 2. Utilize Safety Gear

When working with paint, put on safety goggles and a respirator. You will be shielded from any potential spills or smells by these items.

Tip 3. Keep Away From Acidic Materials

A paint can react chemically in a potentially hazardous way with acids and other acidic chemicals. Therefore, you must keep the two separate at all times.

Tip 4. Avoid Flammable Materials

Paint should not be used near heaters, combustibles, liquids, or open flames since it is flammable.

Tip 5. Never Smoke Near The Area

Considering the risks associated with keeping paint close to heat, it might seem straightforward, but smoking around paint thinners is hazardous. The paint can ignite uncontrollable flames if it touches an open flame.

Tip 6. Practice Proper Disposal

Paints must be disposed of under the standards and guidelines specified for their use since it is a hazardous waste. Never dispose of paint in ordinary trash or down the drain.

Related: 51 Simple Acrylic Painting Tips for Beginners & Pros


How to dispose of Paint 

You may use the information here to decide how to use, store, and dispose of paint without putting your health and the environment at risk.

Tip 1. Try Not To Dispose Directly to Trash Bins

Never dispose of paint in the trash or down the drain unless the neighborhood waste management staff instructs. This paint disposal puts the ecosystem and our water supplies at risk.

At the same time, regular acrylic we use, are ok to be disposed of in bins.

Tip 2. Donate To Local Thrift Shop

The excess paint can always be given to someone else who might need it, or it can be donated to a nearby thrift shop. 

Tip 3. Cement or Harden The Paint

The most accessible approach to removing latex paint is to let it dry completely before throwing it away in the garbage if you can’t find a use. Small amounts of paint can be cemented as a final resort.


What are some non-flammable paints?

Before picking the paint, it is essential to pay close attention to the non-flammable ones needed for your specific project:

Water-based Paints  

  • Acrylic Paint

Winsor and Newton, Liquitex, Golden, and more than 20 other brands of different prices and quality.

  • Acrylic Latex Paint
  • Acrylic Enamel Paint
  • Chalk Paint
  • Emulsion Paint

FAQ section

Can acrylic Paint catch fire?

Acrylic paint won’t catch fire, especially when wet. So most of the time, artists blow the bubble through a straw or use a torch, hairdryer, heat gun, or butane for acrylic pouring. Yet dried acrylics are combustible and can burn or melt if you will put it close to fire or extreme heat.

Is Tamiya acrylic Paint flammable?

Tamiya sells water-based, non-flammable acrylic paint. But they also have some spray paints. Tamiya spray paint is flammable. Flammable liquids and vapors comprise isopropanol + glycol ethers. In addition, this is primarily used for painting miniatures. 

Is Liquitex acrylic Paint flammable?

Acrylic paints by Liquitex are non-flammable. Everyone can safely paint with Liquitex acrylic paints because they all bear the AP seal from the ACMI (Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc.). These paints are a lot of fun to use and contain non-toxic materials.

Is acrylic paint heat resistant?

Acrylic paint is not entirely heat resistant. When heated, it becomes more malleable and less likely to break. It can resist temperatures of up to 200 F degrees before collapsing.

What happens if acrylic Paint gets hot?

Acrylic paints will probably be harmed if exposed to intense heat, especially acrylic latex paint. For instance, you should anticipate that the paint will fade over time if you paint anything with acrylic and then display it outside in the sun. 

Can I paint a candle with acrylic Paint?

As long as you choose acrylic paint that is non-toxic and water-based, you can safely paint your candle. It is recommended to stick to smaller designs rather than painting the entire candle and let the freshly painted candle sit overnight before lighting it.


Summary

As we have learned, some paints are flammable, and others aren’t. Therefore, it is best to distinguish between paints that provide high risk and those that do not. 

Remember that water-based paints are safe for your DIY home projects, and their liquid form is non-flammable. Unlike oil-based paints, which can catch fire and release hazardous fumes.

So before you indulge in a can of paint and a blowtorch, ensure you’re using the right kind for your project. And keep suitable safety precautions and proper disposal in mind.