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Smoking Can Ignite Grain Dust

Lit cigarettes can ignite grain dust in suspension and dust that has settled on adjacent surfaces resulting in flash fires, explosions, or smoldering fires. The ignition temperature of grain dust varies depending on the commodity handled.

Grain Dust Ignition Temperatures

  • Corn - 752 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Wheat Flour - 716 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Grain Dust - Winter Wheat, Oats - 806 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Rice - 824 degrees Fahrenheit

Temperature of a Lit Cigarette

The temperature of a lit cigarette, whether being drawn on or not can easily ignite grain dust. Drawing on a cigarette introduces oxygen, causing the lit portion to burn at a higher temperature.

Temperature Without Drawing:

  • Side of the lit portion - 752 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Middle of the lit portion - 112 degrees Fahrenheit

Temperature During Drawing:

  • Middle of the lit portion - 1,292 degrees Fahrenheit

Preventing Ignition of Grain Dust From Smoking

To prevent lit cigarettes from igniting grain dust:

  • Develop a written "No Smoking" policy that defines areas where smoking is prohibited, designated smoking areas where smoking is allowed, or prohibits smoking on facility property.
  • Communicate the "No Smoking" policy verbally and in writing to employees, visitors, drivers, and contractors.
  • Post "No Smoking" signage throughout the facility to include entrances to the facility, truck-receiving areas, entrances to operating areas, and within operating areas.
  • Enforce the "No Smoking" policy with contractors, visitors, drivers, and employees.

Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH:, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;

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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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