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Hand sanitizer bottled in aluminum cans pose significant fire risk, says Calgary Fire Department

Calgary Fire Department file photo.
Calgary Fire Department file photo.

To meet the high demand due to the pandemic, new producers of hand sanitizer flooded the market with their own recipes and packaging.

But the Calgary Fire Department is warning people and businesses on Monday that hand sanitizer packaged in aluminum cans, which was a common choice for breweries and distilleries, poses a fire risk.

Specifically, the fire department is calling for caution with Crisis-Grade Hand Sanitizer Refills which were produced locally and distributed by several businesses. The local manufacturer was notified and has recalled the product but there are other producers who have used aluminum cans for their sanitizer who haven’t been contacted.

The cans, similar to craft beer cans, contain sanitizer produced using ethanol and it reportedly reacts with the aluminum, resulting in deterioration and causes the product to leak through the can.

The ethanol or ethyl alcohol in the hand sanitizer is flammable when exposed to a heat source or open flame, so these kinds of leaks from the container could contact an ignition source and result in a fire.

“Anyone who has this type of product should immediately inspect the container for leaks and immediately clean up any product that has leaked out of the container with soap and water,” said the Calgary Fire Department in a release.

The sanitizer can be poured into a plastic or glass container if the aluminum can hasn’t leaked but if there is a leak, some of the alcohol could have evaporated rendering the sanitizer ineffective in cleansing.

In that case, the fire department is encouraging Calgarians to put the sanitizer in a spill-proof container that is labelled and take it to one of the city’s household hazardous waste drop-off spots.

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