NFPA 30, Brewing, Alcoholic Beverages, Flash Point and Sustained Combustion: Do You Need Explosion-Proof Equipment ?

 In Laboratory Services

By: Katherine Hatherley, Lab Technician, email

Alcohol flavorings or alcohol essence flavors are used to enhance or change the taste of beverages like beer or spirits. A flavoring that contains alcohol may be classified as a flammable or combustible liquid, and as such, be subjected to fire code safety requirements for storage and production.  At Dell Tech, we test flavoring formulations to determine their classification so you can tell which ones require explosion-proof equipment and which can use standard vessels.

In the United States, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code defines a flammable liquid or combustible liquid as follows:


Combustible Liquids:

  • Flash point ≥ 100°F (37.8°C)
    • Class II if flash point is ≥ 100°F (37.8°C) and < 140°F (60°C)
    • Class IIIA if flash point ≥ 140°F (60°C) and < 200°F (93°C)
    • Class IIIB if flash point ≥ 200°F


Flammable Liquids:

  • Flash point < 100°F (37.8°C)
    • Class IA if flash point < 73°F (22.8°), boiling point < 100°F (37.8°C)
    • Class IB if flash point < 73°F (22.8°), boiling point ≥ 100°F (37.8°C)
    • Class IC if flash point ≥ 73°F (22.8°) and < 100°F (37.8°C)


Under the NFPA 30, special equipment is needed for the bulk storage or transportation/intermediate storage of flammable or combustible liquids (check with your local jurisdiction to see if your fire code follows the NFPA standard). Depending on the material of the storage container you use, you may need that container to have:

  • emergency venting to limit internal pressure and prevent an explosion
  • at least one pressure-actuated vent
  • a maximum allowable size depending on the material of the storage container (Table 9.4.3 Maximum Allowable Size – NFPA 30)

There is an exemption to these requirements for explosion-proof equipment, however. The NFPA Chapter 9 Storage of Liquids in Containers – General Requirements does not apply to liquids with a flash point greater than 35°C (95°F) in a water­ miscible solution or in dispersion with a water and inert (non-combustible) solids content of more than 80 percent by weight, which does not sustain combustion when tested using the “Method of Testing for Sustained Combustibility,” per 49 CFR 173, Appendix H of the NFPA 30, or the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG). The UN TDG recommended test is known as the L.2 Sustained Combustibility Test (UN TDG Part III Rev. 6 Section 32.5.2).


The L.2: Sustained Combustibility Test

This test determines whether a specified volume of a substance will sustain combustion at test conditions when exposed to a flame. Test conditions are controlled by using a combustibility tester (depicted below) consisting of an aluminum alloy block with a sample well, heated to the temperatures necessary for testing. The lab technician will observe whether the sample ignites and sustains combustion, and for how long the combustion is sustained after exposure to the test flame is removed.



Other Regulations Related to the L.2 Sustained Combustibility Test

Transportation of Dangerous Goods Requirements (US & Canada)

Under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, liquids that have a flash point greater than 35°C are not included in Class 3 Flammable Liquids if they do not sustain combustion as determined in accordance with the sustained combustibility test referred to in section of Chapter 2.3 of the UN Recommendations – the L.2 Sustained Combustibility test.

Consumer Chemicals & Containers Regulations (Canada)

For the Consumer Chemicals & Containers Regulations a combustible liquid (flash point  > 37.8 °C but < 60 º C) may be exempt from that classification if it is composed of 50% or more of water and 50% or less of water miscible solvent and does not sustain combustion when tested in accordance with the L.2 Sustained Combustibility Test.


How Dell Tech Can Help

Dell Tech is an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory that offers testing services for flash point and the UN TDG L.2 Sustained Combustibility Test of flammable liquids for classification of Transportation of Dangerous Goods and the Canadian Consumer Chemicals & Containers Regulations (CCCR). Contact us today to schedule testing for your product to determine whether your product is exempt from NFPA 30 storage requirements.

Dell Tech
Joe McCarthy, Senior Regulatory Affairs Specialist

Dell Tech has provided professional, confidential consulting services to the chemical specialty industry in Canada, the USA, Europe, and Asia for the last 40 years. 

Contact us today for more information.

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