Wood dust, one of ten explosive materials revealed
December 15, 2021 | 10:53 am CST
wood dust

Recent research has revealed ten unexpectedly explosive materials, including wood dust, due to combustible dust. 

Experts in dust extraction, Extraction Solutions, found the explosive power of ten non-suspecting materials using the KST deflagration index of dust, which ranges from no risk of explosion (ST 0) to a very strong explosion rating (ST 3).

Of the materials included in the research, sugar and orange instant drink had the highest explosiveness rating of ST 2, which signifies the potential for a strong explosion. 

Wood dust was found to have an estimated weak (ST1) explosive risk, but the severity of an explosion depends on various factors, including the moisture content, the size of the ignition source, and the enclosure’s strength. 

David Night, spokesperson for Extraction Solutions, said, "Underestimating the danger of combustible dust can lead to disastrous fires that put the safety of staff members at risk.

"Even though most of these materials containing combustible dust have a weak explosive rating, recent incidents have shown that they can still cause severe damage and should be taken seriously."

Combustible dust is classed as any fine material with the potential to explode when suspended in the air. Three elements are needed to spark a fire, known as the 'fire triangle', consisting of fuel to burn, oxygen, and an ignition source. However, two additional factors are needed to cause a dust explosion, forming the 'dust pentagon'. 

These elements entail the dispersion of dust particles in the right concentration and the enclosure of the dust cloud, which enables a build-up of pressure. Businesses handling or storing combustible dust must assess the KST rating and implement the appropriate safety measures to mitigate the risk of explosions. 

David Night added: "If an explosion destroys the products or facilities, the business will face a huge drop in productivity due to the time required to rebuild machinery. Fines, settlement payments or jail time could also be a risk, depending on the safety breaches and liability.
"Identifying the risks of the material will help you develop a suitable strategy for removing the hazards."

10 Surprisingly Explosive Household Materials:

  1. Sugar - ST 2
  2. Orange instant drink - ST 2
  3. Flour - ST 1
  4. Cocoa mixture    - ST 1
  5. Milk substitutes - ST 1
  6. Cinnamon - ST 1
  7. Rice - ST 1
  8. Cat food - ST 1
  9. Wood dust - ST 1
  10.  Ground coffee - ST 1

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Profile picture for user larryadams
About the author
Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).