Have you ever wondered how fire-retardant materials are made? Whether you want to know so that you understand the materials in your place of work or you’re setting up a business and need to ensure your offices are meeting the right standards, it’s worth knowing how they function and what makes them retardant against flames.

Here is a look at how they work.

Fire Retardant Vs Fire Resistant

Before we can look at how flame-retardant materials work, it’s worth noting the difference between fire resistant and fire retardant. The main point to note is that flame-resistant fabrics are made from non-flammable materials. Their resistance to fire comes from their chemical structures.

Resistant materials are designed in a way that means they prevent fire from spreading. However, their composition means that they’re not created from totally flame-resistant materials, so they burn very slowly and, in some cases, will self-extinguish.

Fire retardant materials, on the other hand, are chemically treated so that they are self-extinguishing or slow-burning when in contact with flames. Any materials can be made fire retardant as long as they’re treated with the right chemicals.

It’s worth noting that some materials are naturally more resistant to fire than others, too. For example, tightly woven wool will take longer to burn than cotton because of the type of fibres and how the materials react to flames.

Fire Retardant Materials: How They Work

Certain chemicals react to flames and delay combustion in different ways. Therefore, how materials that have been made fire-retardant behave when set alight depends on the chemicals that have been applied to them.

For example, certain chemicals are applied because they interrupt the chemical reaction at the gas stage of combustion. Others break down the polymers, flowing away from the flame. You may also come across retardant materials that mention a carbon char. This is where a layer of char forms over a polymer surface, creating a barrier for the flames as carbon is tough to burn.

Who Needs Fire-Retardant Materials?  

An array of businesses require retardant materials. From hospitals and hotels to schools and office blocks, there’s an array of industries that require buildings that have been designed to prevent and delay fires.

If you think your office block or building needs to be checked for fire-safe materials, it’s worth speaking with your fire safety marshal or the relevant advice services to arrange some checks.