Even after 4500 attempts, a lit cigarette will not ignite gasoline

Researchers tried to ignite gasoline 4500 times with a lit cigarette and failed 100% of the time.

PHOTO: Wikipedia

Everyone has probably seen the hero in the movie walk towards the camera, sunglasses on, cigarette dangling from the side of his mouth, and with a beautiful girl in tow.

Behind him, the villain is tied to a box of dynamite and there’s a convenient trail of gasoline that connects the dynamite to the doomed scoundrel.

Then, in slow motion, he plucks the cigarette from his mouth and flicks it onto the trail, without so much as flinching or looking back. It’s a perfect hit. The cigarette meets the gasoline trail, flames run along it, reaching the screaming lowlife on the other end and – boom!

An explosion of epic proportions.

The damsel is saved, the hero wins, evil is brought to justice and the world lives to see another day.

This may all look well and good in movies, like most things do, but in reality – it’s just a farce.

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Justice decided to investigate the causes of fire and tested five popular cigarette brands by exposing 723 lit cigarettes to gasoline over 4,500 times in 70 distinct tests. As you could imagine, all their attempts failed.


There are many factors involved with igniting gasoline, and lit cigarettes remarkably, do not fall in any category. Gasoline is ignited when in contact with a large hot surface. As such, the tiny end of a glowing ciggie will do little to cause an explosion.

The minimum temperature of the hot surface ignition is another. Those of you who have been burnt by a cigarette know that this glowing amber is hot enough to sear flesh, however, when the cigarette is not being puffed on, the temperature of the end cools dramatically and becomes covered with ash.

This is not to say that a lit cigarette couldn’t cause a fire in an enclosed space. Cigarettes have been known to start fires with other liquids and gases such as Acetylene and Hydrogen. They can also start fires with gasoline fumes.

However, the liquid gasoline itself is not the combustible agent, rather, it is the gas that evaporates from it. Therefore, in closed spaces, such as gas stations, the spark from lighting a cigarette mixed with the gasoline vapours could be deadly.

So keep your cigarettes and open flames away from places with warning signs, no matter how “gangsta” you may be.

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The Propensity of Lit Cigarettes to Ignite Gasoline Vapors

Researchers tried 2000 times to ignite gasoline with a cigarette; failed 100% of the time.

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