We usually see in movies a character tossing a lighted cigarette in a drum of gasoline and it explodes, do you believe in this?
To come up with a conclusion, an experiment has been conducted to know exactly if what is commonly shown in films is true or not. A lighted cigarette was tossed into the drum of gasoline and there was no blasting; the light of the cigarette was put off. Some people have cited experiences where they attempted to do the same experiment and found out that the lighted cigarettes didn’t get enough heat.
That is because there was no air in the drum to ignite the gasoline with a lighted cigarette. But if you fill the container with pure oxygen from a portable tank, pour a few drops of gasoline in it, then throw a lighted cigarette into the open container, gasoline will certainly blast off (but don’t you ever try it).
Another way to blast the gasoline is by puffing a cigarette close to the gasoline tank. This would mix the gasoline vapor with air which is enough to form a mixture than will ignite. Puffing of cigarette can ignite even a large amount of gasoline in an enclosed can, but tossing a lighted cigarette into an open container of gasoline will not cause even a small fire.
However, if you put up a slight heating outside the container at around 1.4 up to 7.6% gasoline vapor, that would result to an ignition. Outside these limits, gasoline cannot be ignited. If you want to try another experiment concerning this subject which is not really hazardous, puff a cigarette and place it over the opening of a pipe connected to a cooking pan with only a half liter of gasoline in it. It is certain that the explosion would be deafening.
This is because at some level above the pan, the tip’s temperature will substantially increase creating a mixture of vapor and air together. Therefore, puffing a cigarette over the pan at various levels above the gasoline will make an ignitable mixture.
If you make simple equipment which can generate oxygen that would pass through the cigarette and place it in the middle of a concrete slab, it is pretty sure that the air and vapor of the gasoline will mix together creating an explosive fire. There are cases, however, that even if you smoke a cigarette at various levels above the gasoline with an ignitable mixture, it is surprising that the gasoline will not cause ignition.
If you try to light some gasoline-soaked paper towels, and toss in more lighted cigarettes in it that will not burn the paper towels because there is no air to cause ignition.
Therefore, given the right atmosphere and elements, cigarettes can ignite gasoline; but tossing a lighted cigarette into a container of gasoline as shown in many films is not a possible way of doing it. However, this subject is being discussed only to ferret out the truth in film showing and does not intend to agitate an actual trial.