Flare Education

Flare stacks and ground flares are important safety equipment that can sometimes be seen or heard outside the Dow manufacturing facility.


What is flaring?

Learn about what flaring is, when it is used, and more.

What do we mean when we say "flares"?

Flares are safety devices that are used at many petrochemical facilities to effectively burn industrial gases that cannot be returned to the process. Burning converts the gases into two common substances: carbon dioxide and water vapor.

The flare is an essential safety device that is designed:

  • To protect our community and employees from exposure to flammable gases.
  • To protect equipment from high pressure releases during start up or shutdown of a facility.
  • To safely dispose of flammable gases during an unplanned event.

What do you see when you notice a flare?

At Dow, we aim to minimize the impact to the community when we operate our safety devices. If you are near the plant during flaring activity, you may notice:

  • Light – Besides the flame itself, you may notice an orange glow surrounding the flame depending on weather conditions.
  • Smoke – Smoke may be visible from the flare at times because it is a natural byproduct of combustion. We use steam to reduce smoke.
  • Noise – The gases are mixed with steam and air at high volumes and velocities which cause an audible rumbling sound.

What's going on when you see a burning flare?

The flares are permitted control devices used to burn excess gas during normal operations, maintenance activities, and partial or complete production unit start up and shutdown. In these scenarios, equipment and piping need to be emptied, refilled or repressured. The resulting mixtures of gas and air – and gas vented during pressurization – are contained in piping and sent to the flare stack, allowing safe operation of the plant under a wide variety of conditions.