Skip to Content

What Happens When Styrofoam Meets Gasoline? (Answered 2023)

This site is supported by our readers. We may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through links.

What happens when you mix Styrofoam and gasolineIt is no secret that Styrofoam is an incredibly versatile material; however, it can be dangerous if not handled properly. When combined with gasoline, certain chemical reactions occur that can create a highly flammable substance.

So let’s explore the effects of mixing these two unlikely materials, as well as information on proper disposal and safety precautions.

Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene, is a common plastic made from the styrene monomer. It is most recognizable by its light weight and rigidity. Gasoline, on the other hand, is a highly flammable liquid hydrocarbon commonly used as fuel.

The gasoline dissolves the Styrofoam, breaking it down on a molecular level. This dissolved mixture becomes a gelatinous, flammable napalm-like substance that will rapidly spread fire when ignited. Even just a cup of gasoline mixed with a small amount of Styrofoam can create enough of this dangerous gel to engulf a room in flames within seconds.

The reason this combination is so volatile is because of the chemical composition of the two ingredients. Gasoline contains hydrocarbon chains which can dissolve the long polystyrene chains that make up Styrofoam.

Needless to say, playing with fire by mixing Styrofoam and gasoline can have devastating consequences. Explosions and uncontrolled fires could not only destroy property but cause serious burns and injuries.

If you happen to have leftover gasoline, make sure to let it evaporate in a safe, well ventilated area before discarding the Styrofoam container. Never pour gasoline over or within Styrofoam cups, coolers, packaging peanuts, etc.

Follow local regulations to properly dispose of gasoline and Styrofoam waste separately. Take the proper precautions to handle these materials safely and avoid this hazardous mixture.

Key Takeaways

  • Mixing Styrofoam and gasoline can cause explosions and uncontrolled fires. Gasoline dissolves Styrofoam on a molecular level, creating a fluid and easily spreadable mixture.
  • Styrofoam has a low autoignition temperature and burns rapidly, releasing toxic smoke.
  • Proper disposal of Styrofoam and gasoline is crucial to avoid creating a highly flammable napalm-like substance.

What is Styrofoam?

What is Styrofoam
Styrofoam’s that cheap, puffy stuff we find in all kinds of packaging. Styrofoam’s made from polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic. The tiny spheres of air trapped in the material give it that lightweight, foamy texture.

While convenient for packaging, Styrofoam’s challenging to recycle since it can’t be remolded. Most Styrofoam ends up in landfills, taking centuries to decompose. Styrofoam products also leach hazardous chemicals into landfills.

Due to its buoyancy, Styrofoam easily makes its way into waterways, breaking into tiny pieces that marine life mistake for food. Safer alternatives like cornstarch-based packing peanuts or molded fiber packaging are becoming more popular.

Overall, Styrofoam’s incredibly problematic for the planet. Reducing usage and properly disposing of it’s crucial.

Is Styrofoam Dangerous?

Is Styrofoam Dangerous
Styrofoam’s flammability makes it quite dangerous. Burning styrofoam releases toxic styrene at temperatures as low as 482 degrees Fahrenheit. Styrofoam’s low cost, light weight, and excellent insulating abilities also make it a major environmental hazard.

Styrofoam’s lightweight nature means it easily breaks down into small particles that persist in the environment, harming wildlife when ingested.

Burning styrofoam produces toxic styrene gas and other dangerous chemicals. Just a small amount of heat from a cigarette or spark can ignite styrofoam and trigger the release of noxious fumes.

Proper precautions like avoiding high temperatures and naked flames are crucial when handling styrofoam.

While useful, styrofoam poses significant risks if mishandled. Exercising caution by keeping it away from potential ignition sources mitigates the chance of toxic releases.

What Happens if Gasoline Touches Styrofoam?

What Happens if Gasoline Touches Styrofoam
When gasoline touches styrofoam, your heart pounds as an extremely flammable napalm-like substance forms that can’t be extinguished.

The chemical reaction between gasoline and styrofoam, known as styrene, is incredibly dangerous. As the styrofoam dissolves in the gasoline, a gel-like napalm substance is created. This gooey concoction is highly flammable and will tenaciously keep burning once ignited.

The resulting fire is nearly impossible to extinguish as it sticks to surfaces. You’ll be sweating with adrenaline as the napalm burns everything in its path.

This reaction highlights the hazardous nature of styrofoam and why proper disposal is crucial. Never mix styrofoam and gasoline! Instead, recycle styrofoam responsibly or dissolve it in acetone for safe disposal.

Your palms sweat wondering about the DIY dangers of homemade napalm. Respect the extreme reactivity and take styrofoam safety tips seriously.

One small fire could easily devastate an entire community.

What Does Mixing Styrofoam and Gasoline Make?

What Does Mixing Styrofoam and Gasoline Make
Mixing styrofoam and gasoline results in a dangerous chemical reaction. The styrofoam dissolves into the gasoline, creating a jelly-like substance that is highly flammable and can be used to make homemade napalm.

The combination produces a gelatinous slurry that sticks to surfaces and burns hotly. Though simple to create, this mixture is extremely hazardous and illegal. I advise against attempting this chemical process.

Chemical Reaction

A tempestuous chemical reaction bubbles violently when that seemingly harmless packaging foam mingles with the combustible petroleum spirit.

  1. The polystyrene in the styrofoam dissolves in the gasoline.
  2. The styrene monomers polymerize into long chains.
  3. This viscous syrup hardens into a jelly-like napalm.
  4. The resulting substance is extremely flammable and sticky.
  5. Once ignited, the styrofoam napalm mixture burns at over 1000°C.

Improperly handled, this dangerous reaction poses severe fire and environmental hazards. Responsible disposal of styrofoam is crucial, and contact between styrofoam and naked flames must be avoided for safety.

The styrofoam napalm idea romanticized in Fight Club is extremely risky in reality. Pursuing hazardous DIY projects like a bleach bomb or Etch A Sketch thermite should be avoided.


Igniting easily, it burns intensely. The highly flammable mixture of styrofoam and gasoline ignites at room temperature. Once lit, the gelatinous napalm-like substance burns uncontrollably. The styrofoam acts as a thickening agent, causing the gasoline to gel.

This allows the fuel to stick to surfaces and burn hotter. The extremely flammable combination has been used as an incendiary weapon and fuel for flamethrowers. With a low flash point, the styrofoam gasoline mixture can be ignited with a simple spark or flame.

The resultant fire is intense and difficult to extinguish. Improper use of this hazardous combination risks serious injuries and property damage.

How to Properly Dispose of Styrofoam?

How to Properly Dispose of Styrofoam
You’d better responsibly dispose of that pesky Styrofoam before it comes back to haunt you and our planet.

  1. Drop off at designated recycling centers if available in your municipality. Some accept clean Styrofoam packaging.
  2. Use Styrofoam recycling mail-back programs like StyroGo if available in your area.
  3. Return Styrofoam packaging of new items to the store for recycling. Some major retailers now accept used Styrofoam.
  4. Bring to disposal events that collect hard-to-recycle items if being organized locally.
  5. Take to transfer stations and landfills as a last resort if marked as accepted material.

Ensuring proper Styrofoam disposal keeps it out of waterways and our environment. With some extra effort, that pesky Styrofoam can be responsibly handled. Prioritize reuse, then recycling options before landfilling.

Is Styrofoam Flammable on Its Own?

Is Styrofoam Flammable on Its Own
You can’t casually flick your Bic near Styrofoam—it singes at just 680°F. So keep lighters and candles far from takeout boxes unless you fancy toxic fumes with your General Tso’s.

This table outlines key details:

Property Description
Autoignition Temperature Around 680°F. At this temperature, Styrofoam ignites without an external spark or flame.
Burning Characteristics Burns rapidly with a sooty, yellow flame. Melts and drips as it burns.
Toxicity Releases black, choking smoke containing styrene, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and other chemicals.

When ignited, Styrofoam’s waxy nature makes it burn hot and fast. The resulting toxic plume means Styrofoam and fire do not mix safely.

Is Napalm a War Crime?

Is Napalm a War Crime
Burning down homes with napalm is inhumane. You must consider the suffering caused. Using napalm and other incendiary weapons against civilians is fundamentally unethical and has been banned under international law.

However, the legality and use of napalm remain complex given its extensive military applications.

  • Napalm’s sticky, burning gels cling to skin and structures, causing horrific injuries.
  • While some argue napalm’s tactical benefits justify its use on military targets, human rights advocates emphasize its indiscriminate effects.
  • The Geneva Conventions and certain protocols prohibit napalm use against civilians and non-defended localities.
  • Though the US has restricted its use, napalm remains an available weapon. Some nations continue deploying it offensively.

Debates continue around napalm’s acceptability and precise legal status. But ethically, we can’t ignore napalm’s severe human costs. More consideration of its victims’ experience is needed alongside dispassionate arguments of utility.

What Happens When Styrofoam is Used in a Molotov Cocktail?

What Happens When Styrofoam is Used in a Molotov Cocktail
Tossing a bottle filled with melted styrofoam and gas creates an inextinguishable, toxic fireball. The improvised incendiary device, resembling a molotov cocktail, generates immense heat and suffocating black smoke when ignited.

This DIY device is extremely hazardous, with the potential for severe burns, property damage, and irreparable harm.

When combined with gasoline, the styrofoam acts as a thickening agent, causing the liquid to turn into a jelly-like substance that sticks to surfaces upon impact. The gasoline provides the fuel while the melted styrofoam helps the mixture burn hotter and adhere to whatever it touches.

This type of homemade incendiary poses high risks of uncontrolled fires and noxious fumes. Improper handling while fueling these devices could also result in accidental ignition and explosion. Consider the grave dangers before attempting to create an incendiary weapon using styrofoam and gasoline.

Pursuing mastery of pyrotechnics requires extreme caution and safety precautions.

Can Styrofoam Dissolve in Gasoline?

Can Styrofoam Dissolve in Gasoline
You’d best forget about dissolving that Styrofoam in gasoline, lest you end up poisoning the earth for generations. Mixing Styrofoam and gasoline creates a dangerous, flammable substance, but Styrofoam won’t actually dissolve in gasoline alone.

The lightweight structure of Styrofoam makes it float on top of gasoline. For chemical reactions to occur, heat and agitation are required to break down the polystyrene polymers. Direct contact with naked flames causes Styrofoam to melt and produce toxic styrene vapors.

Improperly disposing of Styrofoam by burning also releases carcinogenic chemicals into the environment.

To avoid harming yourself and the planet, dispose of Styrofoam and gasoline separately through proper waste management channels.

How to Safely Destroy Styrofoam?

How to Safely Destroy Styrofoam
You can reduce styrofoam’s environmental impact by taking it to a recycling center that safely converts it into new materials.

  1. Find a styrofoam recycling facility. Some accept clean takeout containers, packaging, and more.
  2. Bring clean styrofoam to a retailer take-back program. Some accept used packaging for recycling.
  3. Ship styrofoam to a mail-in recycling program. They’ll recycle any mailed styrofoam, though shipping costs apply.
  4. Bring styrofoam to household hazardous waste disposal sites. They can dispose of it properly.

Consider switching to eco-friendly alternatives like recycled paper or plant-based packing materials. Proper styrofoam disposal reduces the risk of pollution when it breaks down. With some effort, we can divert large volumes from landfills through reuse and recycling.


Mixing Styrofoam and gasoline is extremely dangerous and can have deadly consequences.

Styrofoam, when heated, releases harmful styrene gas. Combined with gasoline, it creates a highly flammable mixture. This mixture can be used to make hazardous weapons like a squirt gun flamethrower, pie pan odd job hat, bleach bomb, etch-a-sketch thermite, Styrofoam napalm, spaghetti-powered thermic lance, and flesh-burning Maglite laser.

It’s essential to responsibly dispose of Styrofoam to prevent dangerous situations. Avoid contact between Styrofoam and open flames. Caution is critical when mixing Styrofoam and gasoline, as doing so can have dire results.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is an author and software engineer from the United States, I and a group of experts made this blog with the aim of answering all the unanswered questions to help as many people as possible.