- flash point
1. Also, flashing point. Physical Chem. the lowest temperature at which a liquid in a specified apparatus will give off sufficient vapor to ignite momentarily on application of a flame.2. a critical point or stage at which something or someone suddenly causes or creates some significant action: A 10 percent drop in mortgage rates will produce a flash point in the housing market.3. a critical situation or area having the potential of erupting in sudden violence: The Mideast has been the flash point for a series of conflicts. Also, flashpoint.[1875-80]
* * *▪ physicsthe lowest temperature at which a petroleum product will burn. Below this temperature insufficient petroleum vapour is available to support combustion. Before gasoline became important, kerosene was the main petroleum product produced. The tendency to leave as much of the highly volatile gasoline as possible in the kerosene caused numerous fires and explosions in tanks and oil lamps. Legal measures were instituted to curb the danger, and test methods were prescribed and minimum flash points set.Minimum flash points have been set not only for kerosene and other volatile petroleum products but also for such low-volatility products as lubricating oil, diesel oil, and fuel oil. While such standards might be useful in providing the safety margins for storing, handling, or transporting high-volatility petroleum products, they are superfluous for those of low volatility. Probably this practice is a held-over tradition and is based on the belief that the flash point is a measure of volatility, a fact true only for products that boil over a narrow temperature range.
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