Do Polymer Banknotes Burn?

Technically polymer banknotes have a higher ignition point than paper banknotes. Paper bank notes will ignite at 233 degrees Celsius, while polymer banknotes will need a sustained temperature of 375 degrees Celsius to ignite. But this is not the full story.

Australian polymer banknotes

According to the technical experts at Note Printing Australia, who are responsible for the development of the polymer banknote, the ignition temperature for banknotes is 375 degrees Celsius, however the melt temperature is 175 degrees Celsius, with a limiting oxygen index of 17.4-18.0 %.

This means that whilst polymer notes will not burn, at around 175 degrees Celsius they will begin to melt and stick together.

For a safe to be fire rated the temperature inside the safe typically cannot exceed 172 degrees Celsius during a significant fire event. This means that whilst polymer banknotes will not burn in a fire rated safe, there is a possibility that they may melt together.

So, for extra protection, and peace of mind, polymer banknotes should be stored in an insulated container within a fire rated safe to ensure that the temperature stays below 175 degrees Celsius.

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