Flame Retardant?

Should I Choose Flame Retardant or Regular Canvas?

In most states, weather or not to use flame retardant coatings is a matter personal choice (check with your state government). I will give you a bit of information on which to base your decision.

  1. It’s a coating: Other than certain exotic fibers like Nomex, a fabric must have something added to it to be flame retardant. This stuff will wear off over time, typically a few years.
  2. It’s Flame Retardant, Not FIREPROOF: If you apply flame it WILL burn. However, with the flame retardant, it will go out as soon as you remove the source of ignition.
  3. Adds weight: The coating increases the weight of cotton canvas by about 20%.
  4. Odor: The coating has a slight odor. It’s not terrible, some people don’t mind, others find it objectionable. It fades somewhat over time.
  5. Cost: Flame retardancy typically adds about $2/yard to the cost of the canvas. I pass this cost on to you in the cost of the finished tent.
  6. Health hazard?: The chemicals used as fire retardants have been linked to a broad range of health issues including cancer. I don’t know what the additional risk is, or how long and how intimate the exposure needs to be to have an effect, but.. there may be some risk. (This is changing?)

The EPA is phasing out the chemicals previously used in cotton fabric fire retardants. While this is to take effect by the end of 2013, some suppliers (mine included) have already switched to a new fire retardant chemical. The industry is claiming that the new chemicals are safe. Perhaps they are.

Recommendations?… If you live in one of the states where it is required, get the flame retardant. If not, it’s a personal choice. For reasons of liability, I will decline to make any specific recommendation. Speaking of which… All of the above information is provided in good faith and is true to the best of my knowledge, but I do not accept liabilty if I got something wrong.