Don’t call Isias Vidal Maceda for advice if you see a creepy critter crawling across your apartment. While spraying for bugs, the New Jersey resident blew out his kitchen windows and started a fire that destroyed 80% of his apartment. Sound outlandish? According to TV, it’s entirely plausible…
Mythbusters confirmed that aerosol bug sprays could ignite and explode, but the killjoys at Slate aren’t convinced.
How many cans of Raid would it take to hit these levels? Take a sealed room that’s 10-by-10 feet, containing 28,320 liters of air. For propane, the most dangerous concentrations are between 2.1 percent and 10.1 percent. It would take about 15 liters of propane to exceed one quarter of that lower limit in our hypothetical room. Since a standard, 17.5-ounce can of Raid contains about 0.29 liters of propane and similar propellants, you would need to empty at least 50 full cans of bug spray before you crossed that threshold.
This calculation assumes that all the propellants released into the room are distributed evenly in the air. In fact, the propane and butane are heavier than air and are therefore more likely to settle in one place. As a result, the hydrocarbons in a single can of bug spray might be sufficient to create a small pocket of explosive gas somewhere in a room. Temperature and humidity also play a role: It takes less bug spray to blow up a dry, hot room than a cold and wet one.
Still, the score remains:
Isias Vidal Maceda: 0