View Full Version : Can shaving cream/other aerosols explode on a plane flight?

07-31-2008, 08:58 PM
The Sunday after this one I am moving overseas. I use a special hypoallergenic shaving cream that I doubt I'll be able to find right away in my new residence, so I plan to buy a couple cans and put them in my check-on baggage. But years ago, my dad told me not to pack aerosol cans on a plane flight because there is the risk of them exploding during the flight due to pressure changes. I've flaunted this rule on several occasions for rather short, domestic flights with no bad results, but a trans-Atlantic flight has me a little more concerned. The last thing I need right away in my new home is all my possessions covered in the stuff, or worse, the plane getting diverted to Greenland because of a big 'bang' noise coming from my suitcase.

So, any advice? Regular shaving cream causes me to break out in a rash, so I'd really like to bring this stuff if possible.

07-31-2008, 09:07 PM
Wrap them in doubled plastic bags if you are that worried.

But I wouldn't worry about it.

07-31-2008, 10:08 PM
They won't explode because the passenger baggage compartment is pressurized (although sometimes unheated.) However, if, say, the plane suffers an explosive decompression at 30,000 feet and the pilot dives 15,000 feet and the oxygen masks pop out, then you could have a problem.

In that case, however, the plane WILL be diverted to Greenland and you'll probably break out in a rash anyway, so I wouldn't worry about it.

07-31-2008, 11:02 PM
I've flown overseas many times, and my shaving cream has always arrived intact.

07-31-2008, 11:16 PM
Thank you very much! Very relieved to hear it. Now I won't have to worry about my new neighbors thinking I have some horrible skin disease...

08-01-2008, 02:47 AM
I've flown overseas many times, and my shaving cream has always arrived intact.

Well, my leaked a little once, but fortunately it was wrapped in plastic, so no damage was done.

Richard Pearse
08-01-2008, 06:15 AM
I'm pretty sure that small personal toiletry items are not considered dangerous goods. Your airline will be able to give you a clear answer though, also the information should be on your ticket.

One more thing, there is no functional difference between a short domestic flight and a long international flight, they both undergo the same pressure changes.

Richard Pearse
08-01-2008, 06:35 AM
Here is a link to the Qantas dangerous goods rules. (http://qantas.com.au/info/flying/beforeYouTravel/dangerousGoods)

From there, home use aerosols in division 2.2 are ok to take in your carry on luggage and checked in luggage. You can tell your aerosol is in division 2.2 because it has a red diamond with a picture of fire in white and the words "Flammable gas 2."

I'd like to stress my last point in my previous post more strongly. Inappropriate dangerous goods carried on aircraft can and have caused accidents killing all on board. You don't carry dangerous goods on an aircraft because it's a domestic flight and you think it'll be ok. If you are not sure, then you MUST find out, ask the check in staff or check your ticket. Taking your aerosols on board because you know that aerosols of that type are ok is good, taking them on board because you think you can get away with it or that it doesn't matter for a short domestic flight, isn't as it displays a basic misunderstanding of the serious nature of dangerous goods.

Santo Rugger
08-01-2008, 09:01 AM
Division 2.2 is nonflammable gas, and uses a green diamond (although oxygen is in 2.2 and uses a yellow diamond). Division 2.1 is flammable gas, which uses the red diamond, as you say. However, I've never seen any HazMat placard on any personal grooming products (hairspray, shaving cream, etc.). Do they make any that require the designation?

Also, can you point a few accidents that involved inappropriate dangerous goods that were carried on an airport without malice that killed everybody on board? I'd love to read about them.

As an aside, in my intro to explosives class, I did quite a bit of research into detecting energetic materials on airline passengers and their luggage. It was a fascinating process, and IIRC, the three levels of security were:

1. Use intelligence to keep those with energetic materials away from airports.
2. Intercept dangerous goods at the airport.
3. Reinforce cargo holds so as to minimize the effects of a detonation of deflagration.

Three was the least desired, of course, because it meant the energetic materials were already on the plane, and reinforcing adds weight, which wastes fuel.

Richard Pearse
08-01-2008, 07:18 PM
Ah yes you're right. I have division 2.2 labels on some shaving cream cans.

There was a jet that crashed in the everglades because of some improperly prepared oxygen generators in the cargo. I'll try and find the details.

Richard Pearse
08-01-2008, 07:30 PM
The relevant bit for toiletries is actually this (my bolding,)

Non-radioactive medicinal or toilet articles (including aerosols) such as hair sprays, perfumes, colognes and medicines containing alcohol.
The total net quantity of all above mentioned articles must not exceed 2kg (4.4 lb) or 2L (2.2 qt), and the net quantity of each single article must not exceed 0.5kg (1 lb) or 0.5 L (1 pt).
Release valve on aerosols must be protected by a cap or other suitable means to prevent inadvertent release of the contents.

Richard Pearse
08-01-2008, 08:44 PM
ValueJet 592 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ValuJet_Flight_592)

And I meant to say I have 2.1 labels on my shaving cream.

08-01-2008, 09:50 PM
Atmosspheric pressure is about 14.7 psi at sea level (lower in aircraft at cruising altitude). Aerosol cans are designed to handle pressures much higher than that already. If they were that sensitive and fragile they would explode if you shook them up on the ground.

08-01-2008, 09:56 PM
Air transport planes are generally pressurized to 8,000 feet so take your shaving cream, hike up into the Rockies and see what happens. My guess is nothing much.

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