Fire blankets are a top priority when it comes to fire safety. They are easy to store and use as your first line of defense against nascent fires.
It is important to consider the various fire blanket materials available in the market. With so many options, it can be quite confusing to make the right pick. To make the process easier, we will be going through everything you should know about these materials. So, let’s begin!
What Materials Are Fire Blankets Made of?
Fire blankets are highly flame-resistant blankets that you wrap around yourself, another person, or even an object. They suffocate fires by cutting off the oxygen supply, thus forcing the fire to be put out. Since fire blankets come in limited dimensions, they are best used to extinguish small fires.
The fire blanket material is generally a highly fire-proof substance that is woven in multiple layers of fabric. It comes with an inside layering of fire retardant film to improve its ability to suffocate fires.
All of these properties come together to create a blanket material that can stop fires of up to 90°C.
A fire blanket is easier to use for people who are not experienced in operating fire extinguishers. The blankets are also more accessible for people with disabilities or who have difficulty lifting weight.
Wool vs. Fiberglass Fire Blankets
You are most likely to find woolen fire blankets in homes, labs, and offices. They are usually treated with a flame retardant fluid and mounted in a vertical position for quick-release. The natural internal structure of wool fibers requires a lot more oxygen than is naturally available in the air to light on fire.
Wool Fire Blankets
Wool is naturally high in nitrogen and water content. This trait makes this fire blanket material highly flame-resistant.
Another important thing to note is that wool does not melt, drip, or stick to the skin as it burns. Thus, wool is an excellent fiber for fire protection.
Some key features of wool fire blankets include:
- High ignition temperature of 550-600°C.
- High limiting oxygen index (the level of oxygen needed for the material to combust).
- Low heat of combustion (amount of heat released in the combustion process).
- Best to be used in electric fires.
One of the most significant advantages of using wool as your fire blanket material is that the cross-linked inter structure swells upon contact with heat. This, in turn, forms an insulating later that stops the flame from spreading out.
Wool also produces lesser smoke and toxic fumes than other synthetic fibers when it burns.
Fiberglass Fire Blankets
On the other hand, we have the fiberglass fire blanket. This is perhaps the most effective and commonly used fire blanket material yet.
Fire blankets made of fiberglass act as a shield against fires, protecting you from not just the flames but also the heat. Fiberglass blankets are used in houses, offices, manufacturing plants, welding shops, etc.
Fiberglass blankets protect you from a higher intensity of heat than wool. You can use fiberglass fire blankets against flames of over 260°C. They can also withstand a molten metal splash of up to 1200°C, which is way higher than most house, office, or even industrial fires.
The fiberglass material is made of woven strands of glass yarn intertwined in a flexible state. The material is a practical fire retardant substance made out of a mixture of silicone or graphite-coated fiberglass yarns. This makes it perfect for incipient fires of higher temperature levels too.
Key properties of fiberglass fire blankets include:
- Compact and soft texture.
- Higher heat tolerance than wool.
- Strong and chemical resistant.
- Superior heat containment and flame protection.
- Best for fires caused by grease, oil, or gasoline.
Other Fire Blanket Materials
Lastly, let’s go over some other, less common fire blanket materials so you can make the best pick for your use.
Cotton Fire Blankets
Cotton is a relatively new fire blanket material. The most recent advancements in the world of fire blankets, like the Titan21, are made from 100% cotton. This change from fiberglass to cotton was made in an effort to create a more environment-friendly and sustainable fire blanket.
Instead of the typical, generally harmful flame retardants, cotton fire blankets are treated with a non-toxic fire inhibitor. This is safer for the environment and your use as well!
Cotton fire blankets are best for use in your home, especially in bedrooms. They should be wrapped around you or your family members as you try to escape a fire. Moreover, these blankets are perfect for people who have shown signs of allergic or other adverse reactions to standard flame retardants.
Ceramic Fire Blankets
Ceramic fiber blankets are also used for fire protection. The ceramic cloth is made from high-quality alumina-silica fiber, woven mechanically with increased tensile strength to form a ceramic fiber yarn. This advanced manufacturing form gives ceramic fire blankets a very high-temperature tolerance (over 1260°C).
The ceramic material is further coated with vermiculite to offer heavy-duty protection against molten metal, slag, and sparks from welding. Moreover, to further increase durability, the fire blanket material has edges stitched with fiberglass and high-temperature Kevlar.
All of these come together to give it an exceptionally high melting point of 1650°C.
Ceramic fire blankets have been certified to IS 11871 fire tests, deeming them best to be used in automobile, welding, engineering, and construction work.
Asbestos Fire Blankets
While it is rarely used today, at one time, more fire blankets were made of asbestos.
Asbestos is a mineral that has impressive flame and heat-resistant properties. Therefore, it only made sense to form fire blankets out of it.
However, asbestos is actually a very toxic material when inhaled. This poses a significant risk to human health, and so its use as a fire blanket material was greatly reduced.
If you do own an asbestos fire blanket, be very careful when disposing of it. Please read the instructions given on the package carefully before disposal and try to replace it with a safer material.
Before making your final choice for which fire blanket material to get for your use, it is best to read up on each blanket’s properties. Fiberglass or wool is most commonly recommended for home and office use; however, we think cotton will soon replace these.
Similarly, if you’re looking for more extensive use at higher temperatures, you will need a ceramic or fiberglass blanket to ensure proper fire safety. Research well and make the smartest choice for yourself and others around you.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.