I just cleaned some range hood duct with Seafoam. I was wondering how long after initial application things like it or rubbing alcohol remain active on the surface to present a fire hazard. How do you know which ones are and aren't safe for indoor use where there may be sources of heat nearby (like the kitchen etc.)?

  • Rubbing alcohol will evaporate and dissipate fairly quickly making it less volatile than other fluids. Extremely dangerous fluids like lacquer thinner, acetone, naphtha, xylomine should be used only with proper ventilation. Their fumes are not only toxic if inhaled, but pose a serious fire/explosion hazard. – ojait Nov 22 '15 at 22:27
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    When used in this context, alcohol would actually be more volatile, the word describes a tendency to evaporate quickly. +1 for the answer though. – Jimmy Fix-it Nov 23 '15 at 1:11

Using any volatile and flammable fluid indoors can pose serious health and property damage if used in a reckless manner. By reckless I should say "not adhering to the warnings by the manufacturer". If the item to be cleaned can not be relocated outside than precautions should be taken to limit the build up of explosive vapors. Allowing outside air to circulate through the room to remove the fumes will reduce the chance of a serious "flash over". It would be wise to note any appliances (water heater, stove, heater, etc.) that have an automatic or standing ignition that could ignite fumes. Also realize that even an electric spark from something as innocuous as an electrostatic spark from a carpet can be enough to initialize an explosion. As for knowing when the fumes have dissipated enough to be safe: leave the windows open long enough (after you've capped the fluid and sealed any rags containing residual traces in a metal container) to allow stale air to be replaced. Use your olfactory (nose) senses; if you smell fluid than it's still in the room.

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