Glitter is something that is supposed to bring nothing but joy. The sparkly substance adds shine and beauty to everything from cakes and cosmetics to greetings cards. We know that some glitters are bad for the environment, but is it true to glitter is also flammable?
Some glitter products can be flammable and will burn at the right temperature if they contain paper, plastic, or flammable coatings. There are then additional risks from clouds of glitter particles and the use of the wrong type of glitter in candles. However, there are also plenty of alternative forms that are much safer to use – many of which are also kinder to the environment.
Therefore, choosing the right glitter for crafts, candle making, and other ventures is important. With that in mind, we must consider the following so we can make the best choices.
- Why are some forms of glitter flammable?
- Is biodegradable and edible glitter much safer?
- Do we need to worry about craft glitter?
- What glitter is best for candle making?
- How can we be safer when using glitter at home?
What makes glitter flammable?
The capability of glitter to burn or ignite all comes down to the materials used and the density of the particles. Not all glitter products will melt or burn, and we will go through some of the safer options and ones to watch out for below.
The biggest problem comes when glitter is made out of paper and/or PVC. Both materials can make glitter flammable and problematic to work with. There is a lower burn point of 212F where it can melt or ignite under the influence of heat.
Therefore, there is a good chance that the high heat of a candle flame, open fireplace, or gas burner will be enough to cause problems.
The other issue is the density of the particles. Regardless of whether you get a chunky or fine material, you have a lot of particles in one area.
This leads to a large volume to surface area ratio that could be dangerous in extreme situations.
Could glitter lead to a dust explosion?
This issue of the high volume of small airborne particles leads to the topic of dust explosions. This is something I have covered in previous guides about dust and flour flammability.
The basic idea here is that when you have the right combination of flammable airborne material and oxygen in the atmosphere, a small spark could set up a pretty catastrophic chain reaction.
Fire needs heat, oxygen, and fuel and if you have the right amount of oxygen and dust circulating in an enclosed space, explosions can happen.
These are more commonly seen in industrial settings like factories and mills than domestic settings. But, they are highly dangerous and potentially fatal.
You are unlikely to see a glitter explosion in the same vein as a dust explosion. In fact, a quick Google search reveals little more than pretty graphics.
But, theoretically, it would be possible if there was a large enough quantity of fine glitter in an enclosed space. Perhaps in a glitter factory but not a craft room.
Still, it is worth considering if you ever thought sending glitter bombs in the mail was a good idea. On that note, there is nothing explosive or flammable about glitter bombs themselves.
It is all about spring-loaded packages rather than explosives and fire risks. That doesn’t make them any more of a good idea for a prank.
Is biodegradable glitter flammable?
There are two issues with using standard glitter. The first is the flammable nature of plastic and paper. The second is the environmental issue.
There are strong calls for us all to make the switch to biodegradable alternatives that aren’t so dangerous if they end up in the trash or our waterways.
Bioglitter is a great alternative product and the range is sure to increase.
The added benefit of this glitter is that it is also non-flammable. That is because it is made from vegetable starch. So, you can use these products with a much clearer conscience.
Is edible glitter flammable?
Another important question about glitter and flammability is the risk surrounding edible glitter. Clearly, this stuff isn’t paper or plastic if we eat it, but could it still ignite.
The standard ingredients in a pack of edible glitter are sugar, gum arabic, maltodextrin, and cornstarch. You then get your color additives to make it pretty.
Large quantities of sugar dust in the atmosphere can lead to those dust explosions, but a little sprinkling of sugary glitter in the kitchen won’t be a problem.
You can use this with confidence while baking as even the high temperatures of the oven aren’t going to be a problem here.
Is craft glitter flammable?
There are lots of different types of glitter around that are used in craft projects and more. It is important that you take a closer look at the materials used and their consistency. Your choice could make a big difference for your project and its safety.
For example, if you were to use large pieces of PVC or paper then you could have a problem on your hands if the glitter ended up near an open flame. Smaller pieces of crushed crystal or biodegradable are less of an issue.
But, if you have a lot of a very fine powder used in confetti cannon that you go back to that potential issue of the dust clouds.
Some keen crafters prefer to use a product called poly glitter as a compromise. You can get a lot of the same benefits with this polyester glitter as you would with other traditional forms of glitter – even though it isn’t biodegradable.
This may be important for those that want a more typical look compared to finer powders. The difference is that this material has a much higher burning point of 350F and it is pretty fine.
It would take a pretty hot flame to burn and melt these particles so this is much safer from a fire safety standpoint.
Is it safe to put glitter in candles?
There is always going to be a danger when adding additional materials to candle wax. The wrong substance, especially something that ignites easily, could affect to way the candle burns and make them more of a fire hazard.
This is why amateur candle makers are advised not to put materials on top of a candle around the wick, such as flower petals.
The same is true for glitter, especially any form of glitter that has those bigger chunks of plastic or paper.
However, you may be able to mix some of the safer forms of glitter mentioned above into the wax.
Not only does this allow for a more even tone through the candle and a non-toxic product, but you will reduce the risk of the candle becoming a fire hazard.
One of the best options for non-flammable glitter for candle making is the finer crushed glass glitter. This finer texture is less of a problem around open flames and the glass material isn’t going ignite or burn like paper or plastic.
The only potential issue here is if there is a painted coating or another effect on the beads, such as an iridescence. This could be flammable and catch in the flame.
What about Mica Powder?
Mica Powder is a product that could divide opinion when it comes to using glitter. It doesn’t have the same structure or texture and creates more of a shimmer than normal glitter.
However, it is also a natural, non-toxic mineral that is non-flammable. This means that you can use it with ease in crafts and even mix it into candle wax for a nice metallic effect.
There should be no issue at all burning these candles in a safe environment so it is a win-win situation.
Even though there is limited risk when using a lot of the best glitter products for crafts, it is still important to be careful and aware of fire safety.
If you want to use glitter for candle making then be careful when adding to hot wax and don’t light any other candles during the process.
We all know how easily glitter goes everywhere even if we just brush it off a surface so there is no point having any naked flames around as you do this.
In short, there are some old-fashioned forms of glitter with paper and plastic components that are dangerous. Not only are they bad for the environment but they can burn and ignite under the right temperatures.
That doesn’t mean you can’t add sparkle to crafts and candles with a better option. Biodegradable glitter and mica powder are fine when used responsibly. The same is true for any edible glitter. Don’t give up the glitter, just make substitutions.