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TitleASTM D 56-05 (R10)
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Designation: D56 − 05 (Reapproved 2010)

Standard Test Method for
Flash Point by Tag Closed Cup Tester1

This standard is issued under the fixed designation D56; the number immediately following the designation indicates the year of original
adoption or, in the case of revision, the year of last revision. A number in parentheses indicates the year of last reapproval. A superscript
epsilon (´) indicates an editorial change since the last revision or reapproval.

This standard has been approved for use by agencies of the U.S. Department of Defense.

INTRODUCTION

To ensure an acceptable precision, this dynamic flash point test method employs a prescribed rate
of temperature rise for the material under test. The rate of heating may not in all cases give the
precision quoted in the test method because of the low thermal conductivity of certain materials. To
improve the prediction of flammability, Test Method D3941, which utilizes a slower heating rate, was
developed. Test Method D3941 provides conditions closer to equilibrium where the vapor above the
liquid and the liquid are at about the same temperature. If a specification requires Test Method D56,
do not change to Test Method D3941 or other test method without permission from the specifier.

Flash point values are a function of the apparatus design, the condition of the apparatus used, and
the operational procedure carried out. Flash point can therefore only be defined in terms of a standard
test method, and no general valid correlation can be guaranteed between results obtained by different
test methods, or with test apparatus different from that specified.

1. Scope

1.1 This test method covers the determination of the flash
point, by tag manual and automated closed testers, of liquids
with a viscosity below 5.5 mm2/s (cSt) at 40°C (104°F), or
below 9.5 mm2/s (cSt) at 25°C (77°F), and a flash point below
93°C (200°F).

1.1.1 For the closed-cup flash point of liquids with the
following properties: a viscosity of 5.5 mm2/s (cSt) or more at
40°C (104°F); a viscosity of 9.5 mm2/s (cSt) or more at 25°C
(77°F); a flash point of 93°C (200°F) or higher; a tendency to
form a surface film under test conditions; or containing
suspended solids, Test Method D93 can be used.

1.1.2 For cut-back asphalts refer to Test Methods D1310
and D3143.

NOTE 1—The U.S. Department of Transportation (RSTA)2 and U.S.
Department of Labor (OSHA) have established that liquids with a flash
point under 37.8°C (100°F) are flammable as determined by this test

method for those liquids that have a viscosity less than 5.5 mm2/s (cSt) at
40°C (104°F) or 9.5 mm2 /s (cSt) or less at 25°C (77°F), or do not contain
suspended solids or do not have a tendency to form a surface film while
under test. Other flash point classifications have been established by these
departments for liquids using this test method.

1.2 This test method can be used to measure and describe
the properties of materials, products, or assemblies in response
to heat and flame under controlled laboratory conditions and
cannot be used to describe or appraise the fire hazard or fire
risk of materials, products, or assemblies under actual fire
conditions. However, results of this test method can be used as
elements of fire risk assessment that takes into account all of
the factors that are pertinent to an assessment of the fire hazard
of a particular end use.

1.3 Related standards are Test Methods D93, D1310,
D3828, D3278, and D3941.

1.4 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as
standard. The values given in parentheses are for information
only.

1.5 WARNING—Mercury has been designated by many
regulatory agencies as a hazardous material that can cause
central nervous system, kidney and liver damage. Mercury, or
its vapor, may be hazardous to health and corrosive to
materials. Caution should be taken when handling mercury and
mercury containing products. See the applicable product Ma-
terial Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for details and EPA’s
website—http://www.epa.gov/mercury/faq.htm—for addi-
tional information. Users should be aware that selling mercury

1 This test method is under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee D02 on
Petroleum Products, Liquid Fuels, and Lubricants and is the direct responsibility of
Subcommittee D02.08 on Volatility.

Current edition approved Oct. 1, 2010. Published November 2010. Originally
approved in 1918. Last previous edition approved in 2005 as D56–05. DOI:
10.1520/D0056-05R10.

2 For information on United States Department of Transportation regulations, see
Codes of United States Regulation 49 CFR Chapter 1 and for information on United
States Department of Labor regulations, see Code of United States Regulation 29
CFR Chapter XVII. Each of these items are revised annually and may be procured
from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington,
DC 20402.

*A Summary of Changes section appears at the end of this standard

Copyright © ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, PO Box C700, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959. United States

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and/or mercury containing products into your state or country
may be prohibited by law.

1.6 This standard does not purport to address all of the
safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the
responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appro-
priate safety and health practices and determine the applica-
bility of regulatory limitations prior to use. For specific
warning statements see 8.2, 8.3, 9.5, 12.5, and refer to Material
Safety Data Sheets.

2. Referenced Documents

2.1 ASTM Standards:3

D93 Test Methods for Flash Point by Pensky-Martens
Closed Cup Tester

D1310 Test Method for Flash Point and Fire Point of Liquids
by Tag Open-Cup Apparatus

D3143 Test Method for Flash Point of Cutback Asphalt with
Tag Open-Cup Apparatus

D3278 Test Methods for Flash Point of Liquids by Small
Scale Closed-Cup Apparatus

D3828 Test Methods for Flash Point by Small Scale Closed
Cup Tester

D3941 Test Method for Flash Point by the Equilibrium
Method With a Closed-Cup Apparatus

D4057 Practice for Manual Sampling of Petroleum and
Petroleum Products

D6299 Practice for Applying Statistical Quality Assurance
and Control Charting Techniques to Evaluate Analytical
Measurement System Performance

D6300 Practice for Determination of Precision and Bias
Data for Use in Test Methods for Petroleum Products and
Lubricants

E1 Specification for ASTM Liquid-in-Glass Thermometers
E502 Test Method for Selection and Use of ASTM Stan-

dards for the Determination of Flash Point of Chemicals
by Closed Cup Methods

2.2 Federal Test Method Standards:4

Method 1101, Federal Test Method Standard No. 791b
Method 4291, Federal Test Method Standard No. 141A

2.3 ISO Standards:5

Guide 34 General Requirements for the Competence of Ref-
erence Material Producers

Guide 35 Certification of Reference Materials—General and
Statistical Principles

3. Terminology

3.1 Definitions:
3.1.1 flash point—the lowest temperature corrected to a

pressure of 101.3 kPa (760 mm Hg) at which application of an

ignition source causes the vapors of a specimen of the sample
to ignite under specified conditions of test.

3.1.1.1 Discussion—The specimen is deemed to have
flashed when a flame appears and instantaneously propagates
itself over the entire surface of the fluid.

3.1.1.2 Discussion—When the ignition source is a test
flame, the application of the test flame may cause a blue halo
or an enlarged flame prior to the actual flash point. This is not
a flash and should be ignored.

3.2 Definitions of Terms Specific to This Standard:
3.2.1 dynamic (non-equilibrium)—in this type of flash point

apparatus, the condition of the vapor above the specimen and
the specimen are not at the same temperature at the time that
the ignition source is applied.

3.2.1.1 Discussion—This is primarily caused by the heating
of the specimen at the constant prescribed rate with the vapor
temperature lagging behind the specimen temperature. The
resultant flash point temperature is generally within the repro-
ducibility of the test method.

3.2.2 equilibrium—in that type of flash point apparatus or
test method, the vapor above the specimen and the specimen
are at the same temperature at the time the ignition source is
applied.

3.2.2.1 Discussion—This condition may not be fully
achieved in practice, since the temperature is not uniform
throughout the specimen and the test cover and shutter are
generally cooler.

4. Summary of Test Method

4.1 The specimen is placed in the cup of the tester and, with
the lid closed, heated at a slow constant rate. An ignition source
is directed into the cup at regular intervals. The flash point is
taken as the lowest temperature at which application of the
ignition source causes the vapor above the specimen to ignite.

5. Significance and Use

5.1 Flash point measures the tendency of the specimen to
form a flammable mixture with air under controlled laboratory
conditions. It is only one of a number of properties that shall be
considered in assessing the overall flammability hazard of a
material.

5.2 Flash point is used in shipping and safety regulations to
define flammable and combustible materials. One should
consult the particular regulation involved for precise defini-
tions of these classes.

5.3 Flash point can indicate the possible presence of highly
volatile and flammable materials in a relatively nonvolatile or
nonflammable material. For example, an abnormally low flash
point on a sample of kerosene can indicate gasoline contami-
nation.

6. Apparatus (Manual Instrument)

6.1 Tag Closed Tester—The apparatus is shown in Fig. 1 and
described in detail in Annex A1.

6.2 Shield—A shield 460 mm (18 in.) square and 610 mm
(24 in.) high, open in front, is recommended.

3 For referenced ASTM standards, visit the ASTM website, www.astm.org, or
contact ASTM Customer Service at [email protected] For Annual Book of ASTM
Standards volume information, refer to the standard’s Document Summary page on
the ASTM website.

4 Available from Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office, Washington, DC 20402.

5 Available from American National Standards Institute (ANSI), 25 W. 43rd St.,
4th Floor, New York, NY 10036.

D56 − 05 (2010)

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operation of the test method, exceed the following values only
in one case in twenty:

Flash Point, °C (°F) Repeatability, °C (°F)

Below 60°C (140°F) 1.2°C (2.0°F)
At and Above 60°C (140°F) 1.6°C (3.0°F)

14.1.2 Reproducibility—The difference between two single
and independent results, obtained by different operators work-
ing in different laboratories on identical test material, would in
the long run, in the normal and correct operation of the test
method, exceed the following values only in one case in
twenty:

Flash Point, °C (°F) Reproducibility, °C (°F)

Below 60°C (140°F) 4.3°C (8°F)
At and Above 60°C (140°F) 5.8°C (10°F)

14.2 Bias—The procedure in Test Method D56 for measur-
ing flash point has no bias since the tag flash point can be
defined only in terms of this test method. The current inter-

laboratory tests confirm that there is no relative bias between
manual and automated procedures. In any case of dispute the
flash point as determined by the manual procedure shall be
considered the referee test.

NOTE 7—Mixtures such as, but not limited to, those that are chlorinated
or include water may cause significant differences in the results obtained
by manual and automatic instruments. For these mixtures, the precision
statement may not apply.

NOTE 8—The precision data were developed in a 1991 cooperative test
program6 using eight (8) samples. Twelve (12) laboratories participated
with the manual apparatus and seventeen (17) laboratories participated
with the automatic equipment. Information on the type of samples and
their average flashpoints are in the research report.

15. Keywords

15.1 combustible; fire risk; flammable; flash point; tag
closed cup

ANNEXES

(Mandatory Information)

A1. APPARATUS

A1.1 Tag Closed Tester

A1.1.1 The Tag Closed Tester shall consist of the test cup,
lid with ignition source, and liquid bath conforming to the
following requirements:

A1.1.2 Test Cup, of brass or other nonrusting metal of
equivalent heat conductivity, conforming to dimensional re-
quirements prescribed in Fig. A1.1.

A1.1.3 Lid:
A1.1.3.1 The lid comprises a circle of nonrusting metal with

a rim projecting downward about 15.9 mm (5⁄8 in.), a slide
shutter, a device which simultaneously opens the shutter and
depresses the ignition source, and a slanting collar in which the
cup-temperature measuring device ferrule is inserted. Fig. A1.2
gives a diagram of the upper surface of the lid, showing
dimensions and positions of the three holes opened and closed
by the shutter, and the size and position of the opening for the
cup temperature measuring device.

A1.1.3.2 The rim shall fit the collar of the liquid bath with
a clearance not exceeding 0.4 mm (0.002 in.) and shall be
slotted in such a manner as to press the lid firmly down on the
top of the cup when the latter is in place in the bath. When this
requirement is not met, the vertical position of the cup in the
bath shall be suitably adjusted, as by placing a thin ring of
metal under the flange of the cup.

A1.1.3.3 The shutter shall be of such size and shape that it
covers the three openings in the lid when in the closed position
and uncovers them completely when in the open position. The
nozzle of the flame-exposure device, when used, shall conform
to the dimensions given in Table A1.1. The ignition source

device shall be designed and constructed so that opening the
shutter depresses the tip to a point approximately 2 mm (0.08
in.) to the right of the horizontal center of the middle opening
of the lid (refer to lower part of Fig. A1.3). This will bring the
ignition source to the approximate center of the opening. The
plane of the underside of the lid shall be between the top and
bottom of the tip of the ignition source when the latter is fully
depressed.

A1.1.3.4 The collar for the cup-temperature measuring de-
vice ferrule shall be set at an angle that permits placement of
the temperature measuring device with its bulb approximately
in the horizontal center of the cup, at a depth prescribed in
Table A1.1.

A1.1.4 Liquid Bath, conforming to the limiting or minimum
dimension shown in Fig. A1.3. It shall be of brass, copper, or
other noncorroding metal of substantial construction. Sheet
metal of about No. 20 B&S gage (0.812 mm) is satisfactory. It
may, if desired, be lagged with heat-insulating material to
facilitate control of temperature.

A1.1.5 Heater, of any type (electric, gas, alcohol, and so
forth) capable of controlling temperature as required in Section
9. An external electric heater, controlled by a variable voltage
transformer, is recommended.

A1.1.6 Bath Stand—For electric heating, any type of stand
may be used. For alcohol lamp or gas burner, a stand, as
illustrated in Fig. 1, to protect the ignition source from air
currents (unless tests can be made in a draft-free room) is
required.

6 Supporting data have been filed at ASTM International Headquarters and may
be obtained by requesting Research Report RR:S15-1007.

D56 − 05 (2010)

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FIG. A1.1 Specimen Cup

Inch-Pound Equivalents
mm in. mm in.
0.03 0.001 10.32 0.406
0.13 0.005 11.92 0.469
4.78 0.188 15.10 0.594
7.15 0.281 18.0 0.71
9.84 0.387 20.6 0.81

NOTE 1—Dimensions relating to the size and position of the tempera-
ture measuring device collar are recommended but not mandatory.
FIG. A1.2 Top of Lid Showing Position and Dimensions of Open-

ings

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APPENDIXES

(Nonmandatory Information)

X1. FLASH POINT MASKING PHENOMENON

X1.1 A condition during flash point testing can occur with
certain mixtures whereby the nonflammable component of the
sample tends to inert the vapor space above the liquid, thus
preventing a flash. Under this condition, the flash point of the
material is masked resulting in the reporting of incorrect high
flash point or no flash point.

X1.2 This flash point masking phenomenon most frequently
occurs with ignitable liquids that contain certain halogenated
hydrocarbons such as dichloromethane (methylene chloride)
and trichloroethylene.

X1.3 Under this condition, no distinct flash as defined in
3.1.1 is observed. Instead a significant enlargement of the test

flame and a change in the color of the test flame from blue to
yellow-orange laminar flame is observed.

X1.4 Under this condition, continued heating and testing for
flash point at temperatures above ambient temperature, have
resulted in significant burning of the ignitable vapor outside the
test cup, often above the test flame. This can be a potential fire
hazard if not recognized.

X1.5 It is recommended that if this condition is encountered
during the flash point testing of these type of materials, testing
should be discontinued.

X1.6 Further commentaries regarding flash point test and
flammability of mixtures can be found in Test Method E502.

Inch-Pound Equivalents

mm in.
1.5 0.06
7.23 0.284
8.40 0.330

FIG. A3.2 Dimensions for Temperature Measuring Device Pack-
ing Ring (Not Mandatory)

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X2. FLASH POINT TEST AND FLAMMABILITY OF MIXTURES

X2.1 While the flash point can be used to indicate the
flammability of liquid materials for certain end uses, flash point
does not represent the minimum temperature at which a
material can evolve flammable vapors.

X2.2 There are instances with pure materials where the
absence of a flash point does not ensure freedom from
flammability. Included in this category are materials that
require large diameters for flash propagation, such as trichlo-
roethylene. This material will not propagate a flame in appa-
ratus the size of a flash point tester, however, its vapors are
flammable and will burn when ignited in apparatus of adequate
size.

X2.3 When a liquid contains flammable and nonflammable
components, there are cases where this liquid can evolve

flammable vapors under certain conditions and yet will not
exhibit a close-cup flash point. This phenomenon is noted
when a nonflammable component is sufficiently volatile and
present in sufficient quantity to inert the vapor space of the
closed cup, thus preventing a flash. In addition, there are
certain instances where an appreciable quantity of the nonflam-
mable component will be present in the vapor, and the material
will exhibit no flash point.

X2.4 Liquids containing a highly volatile nonflammable
component or impurity, which exhibit no flash point because of
the influence of the nonflammable material, may form flam-
mable mixtures if totally flash vaporized in air in the proper
proportions.

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