Plastic Material: Identification by Burn Test

Each plastic material has its own features, such as melting temperature, shrinkage rate, drying conditions, etc.,  thus it is quite important to identify different kinds of plastic material, In addition to distinguish the material by the sound of dropping down, "Burn Test" is also a effective way.

How:
1. First, pick up the plastic article with tweezers, and put the plastic article on flame source, once it begins burning, keep it away from flame source.
2. Then, observe the color of the flame, the nature of the flame, if there is soot, and whether or not the melted plastic drips.
3. After that, blow out the flame and using your hands, fan some of the smoke toward your nose to get an idea of smell.
4. If the fire extinguishes on removal of flame source, which means the plastic material is "Self-Extinguishing"


Below we list out the burning feature of each material:
Thermoplastic

Materials Continues to Burn after Removal of Flame Source Burns, but Extinguishes on Removal of Flame Source Remarks
Color or Flame Difficulty of Burning Drips Odor Color or Flame Difficulty of Burning Drips Odor
Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS) Yellow with Blue edges Easy Yes Acrid - - - - black smoke with soot in air
Acrylic (PMMA) Blue, yellow tip Hard No (cast)
Yes (molded)
Fruity - - - - No smoke during burning, Flame may spurt
if rubber modified
Polyamides/Nylon6 (PA/NY) Blue with yellow tip Hard Yes Burnt wool - - - - -
Polyamides/Nylon66 (PA/NY) - - - Blue with yellow tip Hard Yes Burnt wool
or hair
More rigid than Nylon6
Polycarbonate (PC) - - - Phenol Orange or Yellow Hard Yes Faint, sweet
aromatic ester
black smoke with soot in air
Polyethylene (PE) Blue with yellow tip Easy Yes Paraffin - - - - Floats in water
Polyoxymethylene (POM) Blue Hard Yes Formaldehyde - - - - No smoke during burning
Polypropylene (PP) Blue with yellow tip Hard Yes Acrid or Diesel Fumes - - - - Floats in water;
more difficult to scratch than polyethylene
Polystyrene (PS) Yellow Easy Yes Illuminating Gas or
marigold
- - - - dense black smoke with soot in air
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) - - - - Yellow with green edges Hard No Hydro-chloric acid white smoke


Thermosetting Plastic

Materials Continues to Burn after Removal of Flame Source Burns, but Extinguishes on Removal of Flame Source Remarks
Color or Flame Difficulty of Burning Drips Odor Color or Flame Difficulty of Burning Drips Odor
Polyepoxide, Expoxy Resin (EPOXY) Yellow  Hard No Phenol - - - black smoke with soot in air
Melamine Resin (MF) - - - - Yellow with blue tip - - Formaldehyde
and fish
Swells and Cracks
Phenolic Resins (PF) - - - - Yellow No Phenol Swells and Cracks
Polyurethane (PU) Yellow Hard No - - - - - black smoke
Polysiloxanes, Silicone (SI) - - - - - - - - black smoke, deforms
Urea-Formaldehyde Resin (UF) - - - - Yellow with greenish blue edge - - - Swells and Cracks
Unsaturated Polyester (UP) Yellow with blue edges Easy No burning rubber Yellow - No Hydrochloric acida Cracks and breaks, black smoke with soot in air


Related Article:  Basic Plastic Material Identification by Buoyancy Test