Is Vaseline Flammable with Oxygen? Exploring the Facts

The flammability of Vaseline (also known as petroleum jelly) has been a topic of debate and curiosity among various sectors of society. Vaseline is a versatile product used for numerous applications, from treating minor skin cuts to assisting in wound healing. However, questions about its safety and compatibility with oxygen have arisen, which led to investigations on the potential risks associated with their combination.

In general, Vaseline is considered non-flammable. However, when exposed to high levels of oxygen, its flammability changes, posing a fire risk under certain conditions. It is important to understand the factors that contribute to this risk and take necessary precautions, especially for individuals who utilize oxygen therapy or are in environments with elevated oxygen levels.

Combining oxygen, a heat source, and Vaseline – a petroleum-based product – creates a potentially hazardous situation. Oxygen can cause substances to ignite more rapidly, and when paired with Vaseline as a fuel source, it is prone to reacting with a heat source. As a result, people using oxygen therapy or working in environments with high oxygen concentrations should exercise caution and avoid using Vaseline when possible.

Is Vaseline Flammable with Oxygen?

Vaseline, also known as petroleum jelly, is typically considered a non-flammable and non-combustible substance. However, when exposed to high levels of oxygen, Vaseline may become flammable1. It’s important to understand the circumstances under which this can occur and how to handle Vaseline safely when using oxygen-based treatments.

Vaseline is made from petroleum, which is a fuel source, and it has been used for a variety of purposes, including as a treatment for minor cuts and scrapes, as well as a healing aid for wounds2. When combined with a heat source, oxygen, and petroleum-derived products like Vaseline, it may pose a fire risk3. This is because the basic chemistry principles involve the combining of oxygen (an oxidizer), a source of heat, and a fuel source, which together can result in a fire.

Using Vaseline during oxygen therapy has been the subject of recent discussions4. While some believe that the combination of Vaseline and oxygen might be safe in certain circumstances, the lack of evidence-based data in the literature has led to varying recommendations. As a result, it is recommended to exercise caution and follow the advice of healthcare professionals and pharmacists when using Vaseline in combination with oxygen therapy.

It is essential to handle Vaseline and other petroleum-based products with care when in the presence of high concentrations of oxygen. Here are a few precautions to consider:

  • Avoid applying Vaseline on your face or within the vicinity of an oxygen mask or nasal cannula
  • Use a water-based or silicone-based lubricant if necessary, rather than a petroleum-based product
  • Keep Vaseline and other petroleum jelly products away from open flames, sparks, or excessive heat

In conclusion, while Vaseline itself may not be easily flammable, the combination of Vaseline, oxygen, and a heat source can create a potentially hazardous situation. To ensure your safety, follow best practices and consult with a healthcare professional when using Vaseline and oxygen treatments.


  1. Firefighter Insider
  2. Fire Safety Support
  3. Oxygen Concentrator Store
  4. PubMed

Chemical Composition and Properties of Vaseline

Vaseline, also known as petroleum jelly or white petrolatum, is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons primarily derived from petroleum. Its chemical composition typically consists of a blend of saturated hydrocarbons, with chain lengths predominantly ranging from 25 to 30 carbon atoms.

The physical properties of Vaseline make it a versatile product for various applications. Its waxy texture and transparent or pale yellow appearance arise from the presence of paraffin wax in its composition. Paraffin wax, a solid hydrocarbon derived from petroleum, contributes to Vaseline’s lubricative and moisture-sealing properties.

Vaseline exhibits a low reactivity under normal conditions, making it a stable and safe product to use for its intended purposes. However, it has been reported that Vaseline can become flammable under certain conditions when an oxygen increase reduces its flashpoint temperature. If the ambient air contains more than 18% oxygen by volume, Vaseline can ignite and burn rapidly when exposed to a heat source.

When Vaseline is combined with oxygen therapy, there is a potential risk of fire, as oxygen is known to accelerate the combustion of petroleum-based products. The basic chemistry behind this involves the combination of oxygen (an oxidizer), a heat source, and petroleum-based products (like Vaseline) as fuel sources – a trio that can result in a fire under the right conditions.

In conclusion, although Vaseline possesses a relatively stable chemical composition and exhibits low reactivity, it is essential to exercise caution when using it in scenarios involving increased oxygen concentrations and heat sources. Doing so will help minimize the risk of fire associated with the flammable nature of Vaseline under specific conditions.

Comparison to Other Flammable Substances

When discussing the flammability of Vaseline in the presence of oxygen, it’s helpful to compare it to other flammable substances. These include oil, fuel, petrolatum, gasoline, and crude oil.

Vaseline, or petroleum jelly, is generally considered to be non-flammable in its solid state. However, it can catch fire if heated to high temperatures and turned into a liquid state. This behavior differs from other substances like oil, fuel, and gasoline, which are more readily flammable.

Oil, such as cooking oil or motor oil, is flammable at lower temperatures than Vaseline. It ignites easily and can burn vigorously. Similarly, fuels like gasoline and diesel are highly flammable, requiring only a spark or a heat source to initiate combustion.

Petrolatum, like Vaseline, is a semi-solid hydrocarbon mixture derived from petroleum. Although it shares some properties with Vaseline, its flammability depends on its specific composition and the conditions under which it is exposed to heat or a source of oxygen. For instance, some ointments containing petrolatum can be more flammable than others.

Crude oil is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, and its flammability depends on its composition and the conditions in which it is stored or transported. It can pose a significant fire hazard when exposed to high temperatures, oxygen, and an ignition source.

It should be noted that the use of Vaseline with oxygen therapy equipment is discouraged due to the risk of fire in oxygen-enriched environments. This caution applies to all petroleum-based products, as they can ignite and burn when in contact with oxygen and a heat source.

In summary, Vaseline, compared to other flammable substances like oil, fuel, gasoline, and crude oil, is less flammable and requires higher temperatures to ignite. It is important to exercise caution with all these substances, especially when they are in the presence of oxygen and a heat source.

Ignition and Combustion

Vaseline, also known as petroleum jelly, is not considered flammable under normal circumstances, requiring higher temperatures to ignite. It can only burn when it turns into a liquid, which makes the process of ignition more challenging.

The ignition temperature of Vaseline is above 290°C in a normal atmosphere without an external source of ignition, such as a flame or spark. It is important to note that the critical temperature at which a substance like Vaseline ignites decreases as the oxygen pressure and concentration increase.

Regarding the relationship between oxygen and Vaseline, oxygen is not flammable itself, but it can accelerate combustion when an active fire is already present. This means that although Vaseline alone cannot create a fire, it can act as a long-lasting fuel source to sustain a fire once it has started, especially in the presence of heightened oxygen levels.

To summarize, Vaseline has a high ignition temperature and is not considered highly flammable. However, in the presence of increased oxygen levels, the ignition temperature decreases, making it easier to burn. Once ignited, Vaseline can act as a durable fuel source to maintain a flame.

Safety Concerns and Precautions

When using vaseline in conjunction with oxygen therapy, there are valid safety concerns that need to be addressed. Primarily, the combination of oxygen, vaseline (a petroleum-based product), and a heat source can pose a significant fire risk1. Oxygen itself is a non-flammable gas, but it supports combustion, causing materials to burn more readily in an oxygen-enriched environment2.

To minimize hazards, it is essential to avoid using petroleum-based products like vaseline when handling patients undergoing oxygen therapy3. Instead, consider using oil-in-water creams or water-based products for skin moisturization and lubrication of dry nasal passages while on oxygen3.

Temperature plays a key role in the safety of oxygen therapy equipment. The highest safe temperature for an oxygen tank is 125 degrees Fahrenheit4. Ensure all heat-producing devices or sources of potential ignition, such as open flames, sparks, or similar hazards, are kept at least 5 feet away from oxygen equipment4.

In addition to these precautions, adhere to the following safety guidelines when using oxygen therapy:

  • Always follow the instructions from your oxygen supply company regarding safe usage.
  • Never change the flow rate on your oxygen from what your doctor prescribed2.

By adhering to these safety precautions and avoiding the use of vaseline or other petroleum-based products, risk can be significantly mitigated during oxygen therapy.

    Vaseline in Medical and Skincare Applications

    Vaseline, a type of petroleum jelly, is known for its healing and moisturizing properties, which make it a common ingredient in various skincare products. As an emollient, it locks in moisture and helps soothe dry, irritated skin. This non-toxic substance is often used in products like chapstick to protect and heal chapped lips.

    In medical applications, Vaseline is frequently utilized as a lubricant for inserting medical devices into the nose or other body cavities. Moreover, it is used as a gentle barrier on the skin to promote healing in minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. These applications showcase Vaseline’s versatility in both skincare and medical contexts.

    When it comes to oxygen therapy, patients may require skin moisturizers to relieve dryness or discomfort. However, the use of petroleum-based products like Vaseline can be problematic in such situations. Studies suggest that it is best to avoid Vaseline and other petroleum-based products when handling patients undergoing oxygen therapy, as they may pose a fire risk under specific conditions.

    In summary, Vaseline’s moisturizing and healing properties make it a valuable component in various skincare and medical applications. However, it is essential to exercise caution when utilizing Vaseline in the context of oxygen therapy, as the combination of petroleum-derived products and oxygen can be potentially hazardous.

    Alternative Products and Precautions

    When using oxygen therapy, it is important to avoid products that may pose a fire risk, such as petroleum-based products like Vaseline. Instead, there are several alternatives that can be safely used with oxygen.

    One option is to consider using creams that are water-based or oil-in-water. These creams are less likely to react with oxygen and are generally safer for use alongside oxygen therapy source. Water-based products are also more hydrating and can provide relief for dry skin and nasal passages.

    In addition, lip balms made from non-petroleum ingredients, such as beeswax or shea butter, offer a safer alternative to Vaseline for moisturizing lips while using oxygen. These products do not have the flammable properties of petroleum jelly source.

    Mineral oil can be another viable alternative to Vaseline. It is a non-flammable, transparent oil commonly used as a moisturizer for the skin. Mineral oil can help prevent skin dryness without posing a fire hazard when used around oxygen.

    While using oxygen therapy, it’s essential to follow safety guidelines such as:

    • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke nearby.
    • Keep oxygen equipment at least five feet away from open flames or heat sources.
    • Avoid using flammable materials like cotton balls near the oxygen.
    • Store oxygen cylinders in an upright position and secure them to prevent falling.
    • Notify local emergency services and utility providers that you are using medical oxygen at home.

    By following these precautions and using alternative products, the risk of accidents or complications with oxygen therapy can be minimized.

    Myths and Misconceptions

    One common myth is that Vaseline, when combined with oxygen, poses no risk of starting a fire. However, the reality is that oxygen, Vaseline (a petroleum-based product), and a heat source can, in fact, create a fire hazard1. It is important to avoid using Vaseline while handling pressurized oxygen, as this combination can lead to dangerous consequences.

    Another misconception is that Vaseline can cause burns when applied to the face. In reality, Vaseline serves as a barrier on the skin, without heating or causing burns on its own2. Vaseline, which is known to be an excellent moisturizer, can even help to soothe and heal sunburned skin by sealing in moisture and allowing the skin to heal.

    There is also a myth that Vaseline is not a suitable lubricant due to its petroleum-based composition. Although it is true that Vaseline is not suitable for use with certain materials like latex, the product itself is safe to use as a lubricant on the skin for various purposes3. Its thick consistency and moisturizing properties make it a popular choice for many individuals.

    In conclusion, it is essential to be aware of the facts surrounding Vaseline and its flammability with oxygen, as well as the misconceptions that can lead to misuse. Understanding the safe applications of this versatile product can ensure its proper usage and prevent potential hazards.


    1. Oxygen Therapy and Vaseline
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    3. MyHomeDwelling

    Expert Opinions and Research

    According to a PubMed article, the safety of using Vaseline during oxygen therapy has been a subject of discussion among medical professionals due to the lack of evidence-based data. The pharmacist’s perspective has been provided, offering some recommendations.

    From a chemistry standpoint, the combination of oxygen, Vaseline, and a heat source does pose a fire risk, as Vaseline is a petroleum-based product and flammable when combined with these elements. However, it’s essential to note that Vaseline is not highly flammable and does not ignite easily under most situations.

    Vaseline has a melting point of approximately 75 degrees Celsius (167 degrees Fahrenheit). It reaches its ignition temperature or self-sustained combustion at temperatures higher than 290 degrees Celsius (554 degrees Fahrenheit) in a normal atmosphere without an external source of ignition. These temperatures decrease when oxygen pressure and concentration increase.

    In terms of toxicity, Vaseline is considered safe for external use as it is a saturated, long-chain hydrocarbon with low toxicity levels. This is why it’s commonly used as a skin ointment in various clinical settings. However, it’s crucial to follow safety guidelines when using Vaseline in conjunction with oxygen therapy due to the potential fire risk mentioned earlier.

    To summarize, although Vaseline is not highly flammable, it can pose a fire risk when combined with oxygen and a heat source. The melting point and ignition temperature of Vaseline play important roles in understanding the flammability and potential hazards involved. Medical professionals and chemists weigh in on the safety of Vaseline in these situations, emphasizing the importance of considering various factors and adhering to safety guidelines when using Vaseline with oxygen therapy.

    The team at are experts when it comes to oxygen concentrators. We are dedicated to providing as much help as we can for people who are undergoing oxygen therapy and need help with oxygen concentrators. We research and immerse ourselves in the industry and are assisted by our team of medical experts.

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