If you find any of this information is not up to date, please contact me and let me know of the changes. 

We have found that post offices interpret the postal regulations differently. Usually if you show the postal clerk the regulations and explain what fuel you are trying to ship you can convince them that what you are doing is legal. Several people have taken a printout of this page with them to the post office.

The following is derived from USPS Guidelines on shipping Hazardous Materials in March 2004.  If you want to read the whole document yourself, go to C023 Hazardous Materials  (http://pe.usps.com/archive/pdf/dmmarchive1209/c023.pdf).

Exhibit 1.4 shows the mailability of different classes. Isobutane falls into class 2.1; alcohol falls into class 3. Both are mailable via surface mail in small quantities if properly packaged and labeled.

NOTE surface mail excludes Priority Mail and also excludes Priority Mail boxes.

Cigarette lighters fall under these guidelines (depending on whether the lighter contains gas or liquid), but have stricter requirements. The bottom line is that it is much easier to buy a new lighter than it is to ship one.

Matches are classified as flammable solids. They can be shipped by ground mail, but have different labeling requirements.

US Postal Service regulations regarding shipping butane and isobutane:

3.0 GASES (HAZARD CLASS 2)

Definition

3.1 Hazard class 2 consists of three divisions:

a. Division 2.1, Flammable Gases. A material that is a gas at 68°F (20°C) or less and 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa) of pressure. Flammable gases also include materials that have a boiling point of 68°F (20°C) or less at 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa) and that are ignitable at 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa) when in a mixture of 13% or less by volume with air or that have a flammable range at 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa) with air of at least 12% regardless of the lower limit. These conditions must be established in accordance with ASTM E681-85, Standard Test Method for Concentration Limits of Flammability of Chemicals, or other approved equivalent method. The flammability of aerosols must be determined using the tests specified in 49 CFR 173.306(i).

b. Division 2.2, Nonflammable, Nontoxic Gases. A material that does not meet the definition of Division 2.1 or 2.3 and exerts in its packaging an absolute pressure of 40.6 psia (280 kPa) or greater at 68°F (20°C).

c. Division 2.3, Toxic Gases. A material that is poisonous by inhalation and is a gas at 68°F (20°C) or less and a pressure of 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa) or a material that has a boiling point of 68°F (20°C) or less at 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa).

Mailability

3.2

Gases are prohibited in international mail. Toxic gases in Division 2.3 are prohibited in domestic mail. Flammable gases in Division 2.1 are prohibited in domestic mail via air transportation, but are permitted via surface transportation if the material can qualify as an ORM-D material and meet the standards in 3.3 and 3.4. Nonflammable gases in Division 2.2 are generally permitted in the domestic mail via air or surface transportation if the material can qualify as an ORM-D material and meet the standards in 3.3 and 3.4. 

Container

3.3

An other-than-metal primary receptacle containing a mailable gas may be acceptable if the water capacity of the primary receptacle is 4 fluid ounces (7.22 cubic inches) or less per mailpiece and the primary receptacle meets 49 CFR requirements. Mailable nonflammable and flammable compressed gases are acceptable in metal primary receptacles that have a water capacity up to 33.8 fluid ounces (1 liter or 61.0 cubic inches), depending on their internal pressure. A DOT 2P container must be used as the primary receptacle if the internal pressure is from 140 to 160 psig at 130°F (55°C). A DOT 2Q container must be used as the primary receptacle if the pressure is from 161 to 180 psig at 130°F (55°C).  A container with an internal pressure over 180 psig at 130°F (55°C) is prohibited from mailing. Mailable flammable compressed gases are restricted to 33.8 fluid ounces (1 liter) per mailpiece. Mailable nonflammable compressed gases are permitted in individual 33.8 fluid ounce (1 liter) containers that must be securely packed within an outer shipping container. Each mailpiece must not exceed a total weight of 25 pounds.

Marking

3.4

For surface transportation, packages of mailable gases must be clearly marked on the address side with “Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only” and “ORM-D” immediately following or below the proper shipping name (consumer commodity).

For air transportation, packages must be plainly and durably marked on the address side with “ORM-D AIR” immediately following or below the proper shipping name and must also bear a shipper’s declaration for dangerous goods.

What this means to us:

We can ship up to 3 small canisters of isobutane fuel via ground mail (domestic  mail only). That works fine because we don’t want to carry the extra weight of more than 2 canisters at a time. The package must be sturdy. The cartridges need to be packed for protection. The package must have the following label on attached on the address side of the package:

Surface Mail Only

Consumer commodity ORM-D

US Postal Service regulations regarding shipping alcohol:

4.0 FLAMMABLE AND COMBUSTIBLE LIQUIDS (HAZARD CLASS 3)

Definitions

4.1

The terms used in the standards that apply to hazard class 3 are defined as follows:

a. Flammable liquid means a liquid that has a flashpoint of not more than 141°F (60.5°C), or any material in a liquid phase that has a flashpoint at or above100°F (38°C).

b. Combustible liquid means any liquid that does not meet the definition of any other hazard class and has a flashpoint above 141°F (60.5°C) and below 200°F (93°C). Note: A flammable liquid with a flashpoint at or above 100°F (38°C) that does not meet the definition of any other hazard class may be reclassified as a combustible liquid per 49 CFR 173.120(b). 

Flammable Liquid

Mailability

4.2

Flammable liquid is prohibited in international mail. Flammable liquid with a flashpoint of 20°F (-7°C) or below is prohibited in domestic mail. Other flammable liquid is prohibited in domestic mail via air transportation but is permitted via surface transportation if the material can qualify as an ORM-D material and meet the following conditions as applicable:

a. The flashpoint is above 20°F (-7°C) but no more than 73°F (23°C); the liquid is in a metal primary receptacle not exceeding 1 quart, or in another type of primary receptacle not exceeding 1 pint, per mailpiece; enough cushioning surrounds the primary receptacle to absorb all potential leakage; the cushioning and primary receptacle are packed within a securely sealed secondary container that is placed within a strong outer shipping container; and each mailpiece is plainly and durably marked on the address side with “Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only” and “ORM-D” immediately following or below the proper shipping name.

b. The flashpoint is above 73°F (23°C) but less than 100°F (38°C); the liquid is in a metal primary receptacle not exceeding 1 gallon, or in another type of primary receptacle not exceeding 1 quart, per mailpiece; enough cushioning surrounds the primary receptacle to absorb all potential leakage; the cushioning and primary receptacle are placed within a securely sealed secondary container that is placed within a strong outer shipping container; and each mailpiece is plainly and durably marked on the address side with “Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only” and “ORM-D” immediately following or below the proper shipping name.

Combustible Liquid

Mailability

4.3

Combustible liquid is prohibited in international mail. Combustible liquid is permitted in domestic mail if the material can qualify as an ORM-D material and meet the following conditions as applicable:

a. For surface transportation, if the flashpoint is 100°F (38°C) but no more than 141°F (60.5°C); the liquid is in a metal primary receptacle not exceeding 1 gallon, or in another type of primary receptacle not exceeding 1 quart, per mailpiece; enough cushioning surrounds the primary receptacle to absorb all potential leakage; the cushioning and primary receptacle are packed in a securely sealed secondary container that is placed within a strong outer shipping container; and each mailpiece is plainly and durably marked on the address side with “Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only” and “ORM-D” immediately following or below the proper shipping name.

b. For surface or air transportation, if the flashpoint is above 141°F (60.5°C) but no more than 200°F (93°C); the liquid is in a primary receptacle not exceeding 1 gallon per mailpiece; enough cushioning surrounds the primary receptacle to absorb all potential leakage; the cushioning and primary receptacle are packed in a securely sealed secondary container that is placed within a strong outer shipping container; and each mailpiece is plainly and durably marked on the address side with “ORM-D” or “ORM-D AIR,” as applicable, immediately following or below the proper shipping name. Mailable material sent via surface transportation must be marked on the address side as “Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only.” For air transportation, each mailpiece must bear a shipper’s declaration for dangerous goods.

c. For air or surface transportation, if the flashpoint is above 200°F (93°C) the material is not regulated as a hazardous material. Such nonregulated materials must be properly and securely packaged to prevent  leakage under the general packaging requirements in C010.

Cigarette Lighters

4.4

A cigarette lighter equipped with an ignition element and containing fuel is a Class 3 flammable liquid. A cigarette lighter that contains a flammable gas is classed as a Division 2.1 flammable gas. A cigarette lighter containing either flammable liquid or flammable gas is permitted only in domestic mail via surface transportation when all of the following conditions are met:

a. The design of the lighter and its packaging are approved by the DOT Associate Administrator for Hazardous Material Safety, per 49 CFR 173.21(i) and 173.308; and a DOT Approval Number (T-Number) is issued.

b. The prospective mailer of the lighter submits to the appropriate RCSC manager a written request for authorization to mail the lighter, accompanied by a legible photocopy of the official DOT notice conveying the approval described in 4.4a and a specimen of the actual lighter, the packaging materials in which each lighter is to be mailed, the number of mailpieces and mailing location; and the mailer receives from the RCSC manager a letter approving the requested authorization for mailing.

c. When presented for mailing, the address side of the mailpiece containing the lighter prominently displays the T-Number, the proper shipping name “Lighter for Cigarette,” and the marking “Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only”; all preparation and packaging requirements in the RCSC manager’s approval letter are met; and a legible photocopy of the RCSC manager’s approval letter accompanies the mailing.

What this means to us:

Primary Receptacle
We can ship alcohol in a metal primary receptacle not to exceed 1 quart. A nonmetal primary receptacle must not exceed 1 pint. The primary receptacle must have a screw cap (with a minimum of one-and-one-half turns), soldering clips, or other means of secure closure (friction tops are not acceptable). Only one primary receptacle is permitted per mail piece.

Cushioning Material and Secondary Packaging
Enough cushioning material must surround the primary receptacle to prevent breakage and absorb any potential leakage. The cushioning and primary receptacle must be packed in a securely sealed secondary packaging.

Outer Packaging
A strong outer packaging that is capable of firmly and securely holding the primary receptacle, cushioning material, and secondary packaging is required.

Marking
Each mailpiece must be clearly marked on the address side with “Surface Mail Only”, “Consumer Commodity ORM-D”, and the flashpoint of the flammable liquid (which is 13C/55F for denatured alcohol)

Surface Mail Only

Consumer Commodity ORM-D

Flashpoint 13C/55F

US Postal Service regulations regarding shipping Esbit tablets:

5.0 FLAMMABLE SOLIDS (HAZARD CLASS 4)

Definitions

5.1

Hazard class 4 consists of three divisions:

a. Division 4.1, Flammable Solids. Any solid material other than one classed as an explosive that, under conditions normally incident to transportation, is likely to cause fires through friction or retained heat from manufacturing or processing, or that can be ignited readily and, when ignited, burns so vigorously and persistently as to create a serious transportation hazard.

b. Division 4.2, Spontaneously Combustible. A liquid or solid pyrophoric material that even in small amounts and without an external ignition source can ignite within 5 minutes after coming in contact with air, or a self-heating material that, when in contact with air and without an energy supply, is liable to self-heat.

c. Division 4.3, Dangerous When Wet. A material that, by contact with water, is likely to become spontaneously flammable or to give off flammable or toxic gas at a rate greater than 1 liter per kilogram of the material per hour.

Mailability

5.2

Flammable solids are prohibited in international mail. Flammable solids are prohibited in domestic mail via air transportation. A flammable solid that can qualify as an ORM-D material is permitted in domestic mail via surface transportation if the material is contained in a secure primary receptacle having a weight of 1 pound or less; the primary receptacle(s) is packed in a strong outer shipping container with a total weight of 25 pounds or less per mailpiece; and each mailpiece is plainly and durably marked on the address side with “Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only” and “ORM-D” immediately following or below the proper shipping name.

What this means to us:

It is not clear to me that Esbit tablets fall under the Flammable Solids Class. This would be the worst case mailing requirement.

We can ship small amounts of solid fuel via ground mail (domestic  mail only).  The fuel must be contained in a secure primary receptacle which must be packed in a larger package for protection. The overall package must weigh 25 pounds or less. The package must have the following label on attached on the address side of the package:

Surface Mail Only

Consumer Commodity ORM-D

US Postal Service regulations regarding shipping matches:

Matches

5.3

Matches are classified as flammable solids. Strike-anywhere matches are prohibited in international and domestic mail. Safety matches (book, card, or strike-on-box) are prohibited in international mail, and in domestic mail via air transportation, but are permitted in domestic mail via surface transportation if:

a. They do not ignite spontaneously under conditions normally incident to transportation or when subjected for 8 consecutive hours to a temperature of 200°F (93°C).

b. They cannot be readily ignited by friction unless struck on their own or a similar box, card, or book.

c. They are tightly packed in a securely sealed primary receptacle to prevent any shifting or movement that could cause accidental ignition by rubbing against adjoining items. The primary receptacle(s) is placed securely within an outer shipping container made of fiberboard, wood, or other equivalent material. Multiple primary receptacles may be placed in a single outer shipping container. The address side of the mailpiece must be marked

“Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only” and “Book Matches,” ”Strike-on-Card Matches,” or “Card Matches,” as appropriate. A shipping paper is not required.

d. The gross weight of each mailpiece is not more than 25 pounds.

What this means to us:

We can ship certain types of matches via ground mail (domestic mail only).  Strike anywhere matches are not mailable. The matches must be contained in secure primary receptacles which must be packed in a larger package for protection. The matches must be tightly packed to prevent friction among the matches. The overall package must weigh 25 pounds or less. The package must have the following label on attached on the address side of the package:

Surface Mail Only

Consumer Commodity ORM-D

Book Matches  

(or Card Matches, or Strike on Card Matches)