Flash point: Why it Matters When Choosing an Asphalt Cleaner for your Crew
When evaluating asphalt cleaners and release agents, flash point is an important consideration. Not only does flash point indicate flammability and RCRA (Resource Conservation & Recovery Act) hazardous waste classification, it is also indicative of the cleaner’s tendency to evaporate. In the paving industry, diesel fuel and citrus solvents are commonly used to clean asphalt; however, these are among the most dangerous in terms of flammability. Let’s take a closer look at how flash point is measured, where to find the flash point of the cleaner you are using, and, most importantly, how that flash point affects safety, compliance, and effectiveness of the cleaner. Choosing a safe and effective asphalt cleaner can be a life or death decision when it comes to flash point.
The flash point of a material is the lowest temperature at which vapors of the material will ignite when given an ignition source. There are multiple ways to measure flashpoint but in the construction industry, the Pensky-Martens closed-cup test is the most common method and provides the best approximation of the true flash point. The flash point of any chemical should be included in Section 9 of the SDS, which covers physical and chemical properties.
Flash point is directly related to flammability and thus worker safety. Explosions at asphalt plants are a well-documented hazard, with one taking place in Leesburg, Florida this past April . From the production of asphalt to the lay-down site, the material itself is extremely hot. Introducing a release agent with the tendency to ignite is a dangerous combination. The flash point of diesel fuel is around 125 degrees Fahrenheit. The flash point of most citrus-based solvents hovers between 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit. While these are both closed-cup measurements, even in open areas diesel fuel has been linked to asphalt-related explosions. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) required all substances with a flash point lower than 140 degrees Fahrenheit to be handled with extra caution and often require extra transportation fees for such materials. Allowing cleaners with flash points lower than 140 degrees on your construction site poses unnecessary hazards to both workers and surrounding civilians.
In addition to safety, flash point is also used as one of four criteria for determining whether a substance is labeled by the EPA as a RCRA Hazardous Waste. A material only has to meet one criterion to receive “RCRA Hazardous Waste” distinction. Any asphalt cleaner with a flash point below 140 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a RCRA Hazardous Waste. This means the EPA classifies the material as dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment. All RCRA hazardous wastes have specific disposal instructions. Since many asphalt release agents are used freely at shops, laydown sites, and asphalt plants, using a RCRA hazardous waste is both risky and unsafe.
Flash point is also loosely related to evaporation rate in that the more likely a substance is to flash, the more likely it is to evaporate in hot environments. A high evaporation rate is linked to greater product usage as the cleaner will quickly dissipate when working with hot asphalt. While citrus solvents and diesel fuel may be effective in breaking down asphalt for cleaning purposes, in hot environments, constant re-application is required for adequate results.
PavePro was developed specifically to replace the use of diesel fuel for cleaning asphalt off of tools and equipment. PavePro has a closed-cup flash point well over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only is it much safer to use in asphalt operations, it is also more effective as it lasts longer and works harder than diesel fuel or citrus cleaners. PavePro is not a RCRA or DOT hazardous material and is significantly safer to use in the field. Additionally, PavePro leaves behind a slick, oily film that will not easily evaporate making it a highly effective asphalt cleaner with long-lasting release qualities.
Compare PavePro to the asphalt cleaner you’re using today and experience the PavePro difference!