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Flammable and Combustible Liquids Container Size and Quantity Limits

Learn more about the allowable container size and quantities for flammable and combustible liquids in labs.

California fire codes strictly limit the total quantity of flammable and combustible liquids and container size that may be stored outside of flammable liquids storage cabinets or approved storage rooms in a laboratory.

The hazard classification of a liquid determines the type and size of a storage container.

  • Containers and portable tanks sizes must comply with Chart 1 below. Containers in-which material arrives from a supplier are deemed acceptable per 8 CCR 5532(a), given that they are in compliance with DOT requirements. See Flammable and Combustible Liquids Overview to determine hazard class.

Containers

Chart 1 describes the type and maximum size of shipping/storage containers, or safety cans, you are allowed to use based on the liquid's hazard classification.

Chart 1: Maximum container size by hazard class

Type Class I-A Class I-B Class I-C Class II Class III-A – B
Glassor approved plastic containers (see exceptions) 1 pint (0.47L) 1 quart (0.94L) 1 gallon (3.79L) 1 gallon (3.79L) 1 gallon (3.79L)
Metal containers 1 gallon (3.79L) 5 gallon (18.95L) 5 gallon (18.95L) 5 gallon (18.95L) 5 gallon (18.95L)
OSHA compliant safety cans2 2 gallon (7.58L) 5 gallon (18.95L) 5 gallon (18.95L) 5 gallon (18.95L) 5 gallon (18.95L)
Metal drums For storage requirements: 60 gallon (227.4L) 60 gallon (227.4L)

Exceptions: Glass or approved plastic containers up to 1 gallon may be used for flammable liquids when;

  1. The liquid may become unfit for use when it contacts metal, or it corrodes metal containers.
  2. When the user’s process requires a specific amount of liquid up to 1 gallon, or storage in a metal container would affect the analytical standard of the liquid.

[See References (below) Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 8, §5532, for details of these exceptions.]approved safety can

Safety cans come in a variety of styles that make them suitable either for pouring or dispensing materials. Containers that are OSHA compliant are considered appropriate for meeting the definitions of a safety can, as long as they are in functioning condition. (UC San Diego does not endorse any specific product or manufacturer for OSHA compliant containers).

OSHA Maintains a list of approved Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL) that are authorized to certify compliant containers. These laboratories will indicate their approval for a product by placing their logo on the container.

Spray/squirt bottles used to store and release flammable materials shall be limited to 16 ounces in capacity and must clearly convey what product is in the bottle and the hazards associated with that product.

Quantity

Chart 2 describes the allowable total quantity of flammable or combustible liquid that may be stored in a facility. 

Chart 2: Maximum quantities (California Fire Code)

  Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Category 4
Description Flash point < 23 °C (73.4 °F) and initial boiling point ≤ 35 °C (95 °F) Flash point < 23 °C (73.4 °F) and initial boiling point > 35 °C (95 °F) Flash point ≥ 23 °C (73.4 °F) and  ≤ 60 °C (140 °F) Flash point >60 °C (140 °F) and  ≤ 93 °C (199.4 °F)
Pictogram  fire-pictogram.JPG  fire-pictogram.JPG  fire-pictogram.JPG (No symbol)
Hazard Statement Extremely flammable liquid and vapor Highly flammable liquid and vapor Flammable liquid and vapor  Combustible liquid
Storage Quantities Flammable Liquids: No more than 10 gallons outside of flammable liquid storage cabinets for Category 1-3. Combustible Liquids: No more than 25 gallons outside of flammable liquid storage cabinets.
Combined Flammable and Combustible Liquid: No more than 25 gallons of flammable and combustible liquids combined outside of flammable liquid storage cabinets. No more than 10 gallons may be flammable liquids.
Storage of Flammable and Combustible Liquids in Labs: Laboratories with more than 10 gallons of flammable and combustible liquids must have a flammable liquid storage cabinet. No more than 60 gallons of flammable and combustible liquids may be stored in a flammable liquids storage cabinet. All flammable and combustible liquids stored and used in Laboratories must be in approved containers or safety cans.

References