Skip to content

What Is Spontaneous Combustion and When Does It Occur?

What Is Spontaneous Combustion and When Does It Occur?

Industrial workplaces have various hazards that professionals face daily. These range from job-site injuries to chemical over-exposure, making these jobs dangerous. However, one major risk that is perhaps the most deadly is spontaneous combustion, and it happens more often than you’d think. Let’s learn about what spontaneous combustion is, and when it occurs.

The Basics of Spontaneous Combustion

Also known as spontaneous ignition, spontaneous combustion is a phenomenon that breaks the normal tendencies of fire. Ignition occurs when flammable or combustible materials meet a heat source. However, spontaneous combustion ignores these “rules” entirely.

Spontaneous ignition occurs without a heat source, and instead through chemical, physical, or biological processes. These processes allow materials to reach temperatures that cause ignition without outside factors. That’s why spontaneous combustion is so random and catastrophic.

When Does It Occur?

As mentioned previously, spontaneous combustion occurs when outside processes heat materials without the influence of a true heat source. For instance, piles of hay and compost on a farm can lack proper airflow, and release gases that cause them to burst into flames randomly.

Dust accumulation in a metal fabrication workshop can interact with metal fumes and cause a lot of damage quickly. Even an oil-soaked rag can start a fire. Ultimately, random combinations are common in industrious settings where chemicals and gases are abundant.

How To Prevent Accidents

Understanding spontaneous combustion is essential for safety, but so is knowing proper prevention. Special care and attention to detail amongst employees will help limit opportunities for spontaneous ignition.

Sometimes machine intervention is required—welding workshops need fume extraction devices to ensure a chemical-free air supply and a limited amount of dust accumulation. Simple fans and cross ventilation are also a good defense against random fires and explosions.

Understanding what spontaneous combustion is and when it occurs protects the livelihood of a business and the people working for it. It’s the responsibility of managers and regulators to enforce rules and practices that keep the risk of random explosions to a minimum.

Leave a Comment