Schmidt, Sethi & Akmajian Blog

Dry Shampoo + Heat = Explosion

Posted by Dev Sethi | Sep 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

A Missouri teenager saved money from her after-school job and small inheritance to buy a used Honda Civic.  The car was carefully selected - a 2018 with less than 5,000 miles.

Last week an aerosol can of dry shampoo left in the center console exploded - blowing out the sunroof and destroying the center console area.  

According to her family, the teenager hustles from school to work and is always on the go.  She kept a stash of beauty products in her car, including dry shampoo.  Dry shampoo is type of shampoo that reduces hair greasiness without the need for water.  It is typically in a powder form, often delivered through an aerosol can.  It is generally a mixture of corn starch and alcohol, which absorbs excess oil on the scalp and hair.  Many women celebrate it as a time-saving, miracle product.

But according to chemists who have studied this explosion, all dry shampoos are not equal.  The exploding bottle was an Equate brand, Walmart's in-house line of beauty products.  Interestingly, there was a second bottle of Dove brand dry shampoo in the same center console that did not explode.

Ingredients in the Equate bottle included propane and butane, flammable chemicals that become more dangerous under pressure.  The denatured alcohol, which forms the base of the dry shampoo, is also flammable.  Experts who commented suggest that the most likely explanation is that the car go too hot for the canister.  The propane and butane ignited in the pressure filled, hot canister and created a bomb-like situation that blew the sunroof off of the car.

The bottle did have a warning that said the product is flammable and "may explode if heated."  If you or someone you know keeps dry shampoo in their bag or in their car, be cautious.  That innocent looking bottle of shampoo may require a little extra care.  

About the Author

Dev Sethi

Dev Sethi litigates and tries a wide-range of complex injury and death cases throughout Arizona. He has Martindale Hubbell's highest rating, AV, and he is listed in "Best Lawyers." Dev is also recognized as an Arizona Super Lawyer in the area of plaintiff's products liability litigation.Dev has been at the forefront of auto product defect litigation. He played a key role in uncovering the Goodyear Load Range E tire scandal and worked to hold Ford Motor Company responsible for the danger posed by their now notorious 15-passenger vans. Dev is currently representing families in product liability suits against the nation's largest corporations including General Motors, Ford, Pentair Pools and Invacare.


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