Flame Retardant Hay and Straw

Will you be using flame retardant hay and straw for your fall displays?

Fall may be a few months away, but it's not too early to start thinking about flame retardants for your hay and straw for your commercial haunted house, hay ride in public parks, fall festival or window display.

One reason straw is used for roof thatching is because it repels rain water so well. This quality makes straw and hay hard to treat for fire resistance. Flame retardants are designed to soak into a material, or to lightly coat it, or most likely a combination of the two.  In both thatching and bales of hay, the straw is tightly packed, adding to the difficulty of applying a flame retardant.  In order to guarantee passing your flame test and getting your fire code certificate, we recommend a professional flame retardant expert treat your hay and straw decor.

Fire Resistance for Iconic Imagery

Hay is shorthand for "country setting" and it's difficult to imagine a production of "Of Mice and Men" without bales of hay and straw on the barn floor.  Turning Star treated approximately 40 bales of hay (actually, straw that was painted green) for the Broadway production, including two bales that were broken apart and loose.  Another show in production has more loose straw as part of it's design, and we've been asked to apply our non-toxic flame retardants to a financial sector corporate event that will use 30 bales of straw stacked up.  We treated thatching for a chain restaurant and bar in New Jersey.

How to Make Hay and Straw Flame Retardant

When treating straw – either bales, thatched, or loose – it requires two or three applications. With each application, a large quantity of flame retardant is repelled and runs off, with a small quantity that stays on the straw and starts to penetrate. When another treatment is applied about 20 or 30 minutes later, the straw has started to absorb the flame retardant, and this allows more of the chemical to stay on the straw and continue to penetrate. A third application continues this process.

With loose hay, it’s the same process but care must be given to treat every strand of straw. Regular turning is required, and it takes a lot of area to spread out. 

When hay and straw are used as bales and not broken apart, you need penetration of at least 3” on all sides. These treated 3 inches provide sufficient barrier between a flame and the interior untreated portions of the straw.

Typically we would use Flamexx™ CLS-12 in three coats, a product we’ve been using on hay and straw for over 16 years. In 2014 we began working with a new product MMS-A, which incorporates a fire retardant polymer, which promotes both adhesion and charring. We are still tweaking the formulation of MMS-A, and we haven’t started selling it yet. In our in-house testing, we find it also works extremely well on artificial foliage, as well as several other materials.

Contact a Turning Star flame retardant specialist to learn about fire retardant treatments for hay and straw, or get help with application, flame testing or certification.