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Force Science News’ latest email blast links us to a UK study at scienceandjusticejournal.comThe ignitability of petrol vapours and potential for vapour phase explosion by use of TASER® law enforcement electronic control device. As we’re too cheap to purchase the study, and most of our  readers possess a modicum common sense, I’ll give you Force Science’s best excerpt and put the abstract after the jump. “When the CEW discharged, the room was instantly engulfed in flames. In less than 1.5 seconds, heat at the officer’s head and hand level reached nearly 800 degrees Fahrenheit. ‘The police mannequin showed severe [burns] to about 20% total body surface area,’ the researchers report. (The dummy’s Kevlar vest tended to protect the chest area.) For the suspect mannequin, there was ‘almost 100%’ total body surface burned–‘very probably fatal for a person if accompanied by inhalation injury.'” So now you know . . .


An experimental study was made of the potential of the TASER-X26™ law enforcement electronic control device to ignite petrol vapours if used by an officer to incapacitate a person soaked in petrol, or within a flammable atmosphere containing petrol vapour. Bench scale tests have shown that a wooden mannequin with pig skin covering the chest was a suitable representation of a human target. Full scale tests using the mannequin have shown that the arc from a TASER-X26™ is capable of igniting petrol/air vapours on a petrol-soaked person. Further tests in a 1/5 scale and a full scale compartment have shown that if a TASER is used within a compartment, a petrol vapour explosion (deflagration) may be achieved. It is evident from this research that if used in a flammable vapour rich environment, the device could prove fatal not only to the target but the TASER® operator as well.

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  1. Hahaha
    I remember when we got our tasers, we were warned not to have pepper spray with alcohol as a solvent in it.
    Seems a department back east hosed down a peach of a guy and when it didn’t work, tased him. Turning him into a cross between Richard Pryor and Michael Jackson.

  2. Okay I’m messed up. I know.

    But my first thought was, okay, so can I use one to light Independence Day fireworks?

    • Shoot, my first thought after reading that they used pig skin for the test was that if you were to swap out the gasoline for ethanol, perhaps, that would be the coolest way ever to cook bacon.

  3. Or shoot them, or make a cell phone call. Static electricity can ignite gasoline, as can the muzzle flash.

    Safest bet.. back away from the dummy soaked in gasoline.

  4. ‘…most of our readers possess a modicum common sense…’

    I think this study was meant for law enforcement officers.

  5. Did they also study what happens if an officer fires a shotgun into a suspect’s face? Both studies should be filed under “duh!” Electricity and gasoline vapors = flames just the same as buckshot + face = death

  6. It’s all fun and games until the guy you try to pull over pulls into a gas station and tries to start pumping gas as if nothing is happening. Being burned to death is a bad way to go, and I’ve seen the aftermath of that. Not pretty.

  7. I can’t imagine a situation where someone soaked in gas would need to be tazed.
    Then again, perhaps I don’t need to know…

  8. And in other breaking developments, after an exhaustive 5-year investigation, researchers have found that the sun rises in the east. Another 5 years will now be spent to determine the direction in which the sun sets.

  9. Just guessing, but I can count the fingers one one hand, and it will be more fingers than the times a police officer has ever needed to Taser someone soaked in gasoline??

  10. It is actually somewhat difficult to ignite gasoline vapors, as they are only flammable between 2-7% concentration in air. Contrast that with hydrogen, which is flammable between 4-75%. So in an enclosed space with the perfect concentration they showed its possible, but under the same conditions i’d bet that a gunshot could cause an explosion too. Sounds like a job for the Mythbusters.

    • I’ve been watching Mythbusters on Netflix this summer, and just a couple days ago watched an episode based on CSI (Miami?), I believe, regarding Tasers and pepper spray. In order to get a particularly spectacular ignition, they had to use specific brands of spray, and lots of it, but I can’t imagine a shirt soaked in unleaded would be too different.

    • Acetylene gas also has a very wide ignition and deflagration range as well, as I learned the hard way when I was a kid.

  11. Duuh, What the hell does one expect to happen when you introduce a spark to a person covered in gas? What do you think happens inside an engine? A spark ignites the gasoline contained in each cylinder, causing the gas to catch fire causing the pressure that moves the car forward or backward.

    Anyone with even basic science knowledge or common sense would tell you not to use a taser on someone covered in gas. Can you say “Roman candle”? Sure you can!

  12. Old trick to make a cat bark like a dog! Soak a cat with gas, taze him or touch a match and the cat goes “WOOF!”
    Don’t moderate me bro!

  13. Sad. If they’d have just shot the ‘suspect’ in the face with a 45 acp., all of this unpleasantness could have been avoided.


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