LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — A Wisconsin fire department's warning on social media about leaving sanitizer in a hot car is spreading around the nation.
A photo of a burned car door was posted with a warning about the dangers of leaving hand sanitizer in a car on a hot day.
It has since been taken down by the fire department, who said on Facebook the photo was just used to show the damage an open flame could cause.
It begs the question -- can hand sanitizer really explode in your vehicle?
REALTED| Fire department warns about keeping hand sanitizer in warm vehicles
“I would be much less worried about something like that happening in my car as far as igniting. It would take a lot,” said Michael Pravica, a professor of physics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).
Pravica said the alcohol in the sanitizer is flammable, but it likely wouldn't explode sitting in your car.
“I don't see that based on the flashpoints and the self-ignition temperature, I don't see that there'd be a real issue,” he said.
Pravica said the pressure that would build up inside the sanitizer container caused by the heat would be the biggest concern.
"I would just be more worried about somebody trying to open the top like a pop bottle and then suddenly, all this alcohol splashing in your eye,” he said.
Harrison Mantas with the Poynter Institute said they fact-checked several international reports of exploding sanitizer.
They found it would have to get into extreme temperatures for that to happen.
"Hand sanitizer needs to get to 300 degrees Celsius, which for us Americans is about 500-700 degrees Fahrenheit,” Mantas said.
According to an Arizona State University study done in 2018, the temperature in a hot car maxed out around 160 degrees.
Pravica said although it's unlikely to explode, it might be best to take the sanitizer out of your car.
"It might not be a bad idea just to take the hand sanitizer with you. We don't like to leave hot water bottles in the car,” Pravica said.