Flash point determinations made from small-scale fire test apparatus are used by regulatory authorities to classify flammable and combustible liquids. Based on these classificaiton, regulators then specify or provide guidance on the appropriate methods to transport, handle, package, store, dispense, and protect these materials. Closed-cup flash points of flammable and combustible liquids are used to establish their appropriate classification. Exceptions to these classifications include products such as alcoholic beverages and medicines stored in relatively small containers, which have historically presented a limited fire hazard.
Many companies are now reformulating their consumer liquid products to meet customer and regulatory demands for low volatile organic compounds (VOC's). Low VOC formulations often do not inherently result in the total elimination of flammable or combustible liquid solvents. In some cases, the reformulations result in “water-reducible” products, which contain a high water content. Water-reducible coatings are products where the solvent system used to disperse and suspend solids is primarily water. The remainder of the solvent system may contain liquids that are classified as flammable or combustible liquids. A natural by-product of the “water-reducible” trend is the development of a fire analysis framework which could be adopted by regulatory authorities as part of the movement toward performance-oriented codes. This methodology could also be used to address limitations of specific test methods. These limitations relate to product vicosity, accuracy in predicting overall fire hazard, ability to assess physical changes of state when a product is tested, and test method reliability and ease of use.