Is Nail Polish Remover Flammable?

If you have ever taken the time to painstakingly paint your nails, only to find the next second your careful brush strokes have accidentally transferred some of your colored polish onto your cuticles and the surrounding skin, you are definitely not alone! 

Almost every single woman has used nail polish and nail polish remover at some point in their lives. Some men, too. It is a harmless part of the beauty regime, so why not pamper yourself now and then? 

Unfortunately, there are many fire hazards surrounding the process of using nail polish remover that you may not have even thought about. This guide will explore several of the risks associated with using it at home.


Is Nail Polish Remover Flammable?

Nail polish remover is generally extremely flammable regardless of its ingredients, but it cannot set fire to itself. It has to be exposed to an open flame in order to catch fire, such as a candle, a match, a lighter or even a cigarette.

The toxic vapors that it gives off are only dangerous if consumed in large amounts. So, as long as you are careful with how much nail polish remover you are exposed to, and you store it correctly, you should be fine!

What Is Nail Polish Remover Made From? 

Nail Polish Remover

Although there are a lot of ingredients in nail polish remover that are alcohol-based, the whole product itself is not classified as rubbing alcohol due to its main ingredient being acetone.

In fact, most nail polish removers are acetone-based.

With a very overpowering and distinct clinical scent, acetone is a liquid solvent that easily dissolves other substances.

It is also an effective cleaning tool that is great for removing nail polish, getting rid of ink stains and disinfecting computer keyboards. 

There are other nail polish removers on the market that are made from a less toxic combination of ethyl acetate and isopropyl alcohol, both of which are key ingredients in the formulation of nail polish itself.

Whilst it is important to note that the ethyl acetate compound is also highly flammable, the combination of these chemicals means that this type of nail polish remover is much gentler on the nails and skin. 

Though this may be true, the user is still at risk if the flammable material is exposed to any form of open flame.

Therefore, safety precautions must still be taken to ensure that it is kept far away from any potential fires.

What Are The Risks?

Aside from potential fire hazards, there are several other risks associated with using acetone nail polish remover. Due to its high chemical concentration, this type of product emits toxic fumes that can cause several health concerns.

When used in an environment with little to no ventilation, side effects associated with inhaling these fumes commonly include dizziness, headaches or nausea.

Acetone-based nail polish remover is also very poisonous if accidentally ingested in a small dose, and can result in more severe medical issues such as falling into a coma if larger amounts are ingested. 

A less significant danger of being exposed to an acetone-based nail polish remover is that it has been known to dehydrate the nail, cuticles and surrounding skin of the user. Acetone also makes nails feel dry and brittle, and cuticles dry and irritated.

Will Nail Polish Remover Catch Fire?

Generally, nail polish remover will not catch fire unless it is put into a dangerous environment, either near an open flame or a spark.

Though all nail polish removers are highly flammable weather they contain acetone or not, there are particular products that have been manufactured using ingredients that permeate less toxic fumes into the air than pure acetone.

These products tend to not be as effective at removing acrylic nails or colorful polish as typical acetone nail polish removers are, but they are much better for maintaining the softness of surrounding skin. 

So, whether you choose to opt for an acetone-based nail polish remover or not, it remains a very good idea to stray from using the product anywhere near open flames, outlets, or other environments where sparks may occur.

This means no nail care evenings sat around the living room fire!

How To Prevent A Fire

There are many things that can be done to prevent nail polish remover from causing a fire.

It is vital to use your common sense and knowledge of basic fire safety to avoid being in contact with any resemblance of an open flame when using the product.

Most importantly, it is imperative to clean up immediately after yourself.

This includes thoroughly washing your hands, the surrounding surfaces, and any equipment you used to prevent the chance of a fire from occurring.

It is also wise to avoid smoking or using any other nicotine products like a vape when using nail polish remover.

As acetone can be especially harmful to vulnerable people, including pregnant women and those with respiratory problems, the remover must be used in a well ventilated area to reduce the risk of fire and future health problems.

To prevent a fire from occurring, you must also be cautious of having an open bottle of nail polish remover – regardless of its base – near any heated electrical appliances.

This is notably important in terms of beauty room hair tools like blow dryers and curling irons, as the heat expanding from the products may potentially ignite the nail polish remover.


To summarize, nail polish remover is very flammable and poses many fire risks as it is made up of the highly flammable substance acetone.

However, it is unlikely that nail polish remover  will catch fire unless you directly expose the liquid to an open flame, or an extreme heat source.

It is best that nail polish remover is stored in a cool, dark storage cupboard away from any potential igniters like candles, sunlight, heated hair tools and any sparks.

It is also wise to store it in a well secured spot that is not reachable by children or at risk of accidentally being tipped onto the floor.