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Should I Care About Flash Point?

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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…

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