Product Reviews Blog

What Is A Flame Arrester? (And How Your Safety Depends On It)

Marcus Williams - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What Is A Flame Arrester? (And How Your Safety Depends On It) Being responsible for the safety of employees in a workplace that uses flammable materials is an important job. For businesses and industries that utilize gas cans it’s vital to understand the importance of flame arresters. Flame arresters are designed to act as a filter to prevent sparks or flames from entering gas cans, pipes, or tanks and to extinguish flames quickly in confined locations. Different types of flame arresters vary in style depending on their application, but the key to safety lies in the consistent use of the appropriate arrester for each situation. When used properly, flame arresters can prevent catastrophic damage and loss of life.

Flame & Detonation Arresters


Types of Flame Arresters

All flame arresters are designed to allow gases or liquids to pass through while preventing flames or sparks from creating an explosion or expanding into a larger fire. However, their range of style and size varies tremendously to fit each application.


Arresters as simple as tiny metal screens that fit into the opening of portable gas cans prevent sparks from entering the can, while refineries may require large multiple arresters installed at varying locations in piping and surrounding tanks to maintain a safe working environment. Flame arresters are also an integral part of the design of tanker trucks hauling hazardous materials, as the arresters must protect the flammable contents of the tank from exploding during transport.


How Flame Arresters WorkHow Flame Arresters Work

Regardless of their size, all flame arresters work by creating a barrier that allows gases and liquids to pass through but prevents the passage of sparks or flames. In the same way that metal screens are used to prevent sparks from leaving a fireplace, screens are used and required in all portable gas cans utilized at industrial sites to keep sparks or flames from entering the can and creating an explosion. It may be surprising how even a small amount of flammable liquid can turn into a bomb under the right (wrong!) circumstances, but flame arresters go a long way to prevent this from happening.


In larger scale applications where arresters are installed at the end of a pipe or vent connected to a tank or other enclosure containing hazardous materials, flame arresters utilize a greater surface area created from metal materials but still function in the same basic manner. For example, arresters installed on vents to oil tanks prevent lightning from igniting the entire tank of oil while fumes are released through the arrester passages.

Specialized In-Line and End of Line Applications

In many industrial situations, flame arresters must do more than simply prevent sparks or flames from entering an enclosure. If hazardous gases or liquids combust within an enclosure, flames must be contained as quickly as possible to prevent them from leading to an inevitable explosion. To accomplish this goal, specialized arresters are designed to create a large surface area connected to but wider than the pipe. This provides the necessary space to effectively reduce the heat of the flames until they are quenched.


No moving parts are necessary for the flame arrester to stop the spread of fire, provided it is located as close to the potential source of ignition as possible (in order to contain the flames quickly) and is sized appropriately based on the type of hazardous material and situation. For example, end of line vents attached to the top of exhaust stacks of an enclosure containing flammable material should be protected with a flame arrester capable of containing the flames and preventing the spread of fire in volatile environments such as refineries.

Proper Use of Flame Arresters is Key to a Safe Environment

Many industrial sites containing hazardous gases or liquids are required by law to use flame arresters on all gas cans as well as at specific locations in piping and vents for safety purposes. A basic understanding of flame arresters is important, but it is imperative that anyone responsible for flame arresters should gain an adequate understanding of which types of arresters should be used with different types of materials in specific situations.


Flame arresters work well, but must be used intelligently and consistently in order to be effective. Although they all utilize the same basic principle of preventing flames or sparks from creating a larger fire, the key is in using the right type of arrester for the job at hand.