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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Paraffin based emollient creams

Emollient paraffin based creams

The use of paraffin based emollient skin creams, although generally safe to use, can become flammable when exposed to an ignition source, such as a naked flame, cigarette or heater. Emollient creams are often used for dry skin conditions, and with regular use, clothing, dressings, and bed sheets can become impregnated with the product. This build up of residue can become highly flammable and act as an accelerant when ignited.

To reduce the risk of this happening:

  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke in your home. Consider telling your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you normally smoke. They will be able to offer you help and advice to stop smoking.
  • Don’t use any naked flame or ignition source such as matches, lighters and candles if there is any chance of your clothing being contaminated with paraffin-based cream.
  • Don’t cook if there is any chance of your clothing being contaminated with paraffin-based cream.
  • Don’t use paraffin or oil-based cream or liquid on your skin if using oxygen equipment. Speak to your health professional or carer about using water-based cream instead.
  • Ensure that your clothes and bedding are changed regularly (preferably daily) as the paraffin soaks into the fabrics

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have conducted an experiment showing the effects of different materials impregnated with emollient creams using different ignition sources. See the video below for the outcomes of this experiment.