We make The Deuce of Spades and MoonLight tents Fire Retardancy | TheTentLab

Simple question: “Your tents are fire retardant (FR), aren’t they?”

Answer: Absolutely not!

There are three reasons why we're dedicated to non-FR tents:
1) Like all tents made with lightweight materials, the MoonLights are already quite fire safe. For starters (*ahem*), they're actually hard to set fire to in the first place. There are no fabric edges to light and if you do hold a flame against it until it burns, it self-extinguishes almost the instant you take the flame away. There’s just not much fuel in lightweight fabrics. So the vast majority of backpacking tents pose no fire danger to speak of AND NEVER HAVE. Here’s a great article about cooking in tents that covers it.

2) The FR chemicals used in tents ARE NOT SAFE and they rub off onto your hands, your gear, everything. Some are absorbed directly into your skin, any can get into your lungs on dust. Some are known to accumulate in people and they're persistent - they don't leave or degrade. Once those are in you, they have years and years to do damage. No way I'm going to expose my family to them and I'm sure as heck not going to expose yours.

3) The FR regulations driving this debacle are State regulations which don’t apply outside of the 7 states that have those laws (California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and New Jersey). Colorado, where TheTentLab is based, is one of the sane states without those regs. Commerce between states is a Federal jurisdiction, which doesn’t have those FR tent laws either. So a tent sale from Colorado to anywhere else does not have to be FR. Unfortunately most manufacturer’s, whether they’re located in one of the 7 states or not, want to sell their tents through retailers that are located in those states, so they make all their products meet the FR regulations rather than trying to manage - or explain - two inventories, one FR and one not.

The Origin of the Fire Retardancy Standard CPAI-84
The FR standard that was adopted by seven states was called CPAI-84 (for Canvas Products Association International - 1984). It was created by canvas tentmakers as a way to shield themselves from an increasing number of lawsuits resulting from the fact that their waxed
canvas tents burned REALLY well. People were dying (and not just one or two). The problem is that those canvas tentmakers wrote the standard to apply to any kind of tent at all. On the face of it, it looks a heck of a lot like they deliberately decided to force competing (and less dangerous) tent materials into needing FR chemicals too (making nylon and polyester fabrics more expensive being the obvious aim). Such bad behavior from company representatives – this is why we can't have nice things.

Events continue to unfold:
• California's
Proposition 65 requires that all products containing hazardous chemicals from this list (which includes all the worst fire retardants) are required to inform the customer to that affect. It's working wonders to make people question why our modern tents have these seriously-bad-for-you chemicals on them when there appears to be almost no danger at all associated with burning them — neither getting them to burn in the first place, nor the effects of that burning. Maybe we'll finally see some movement to dump CPAI-84 within our lifetimes.
I guess it was foreseeable, but there seems to be a concerted effort to make prop 65 worthless to consumers by putting a "California prop 65" label on
absolutely everything. The idea is to imply - and I'm going to take some interpretive liberties here - "Californian nutballs…lefty libtards…made us label this…chemicals are in everything…here's your f-ing label!"
• Canada has new tent fire retardancy regulations. They scientifically studied the burning of tents BUT they also adopted the approach that, with very limited resources, they aren't going to try to settle the question of what's a "safe enough" tent. So they identified test methods and standards for fabrics that establishes a uniform burning performance baseline. That sounds good but there's an unintended consequence: the baseline performance standard chosen was the performance of CANVAS fabrics treated with flame retardants and that turns out to be an extremely tough standard. Whatever else you might think, FR chemicals on canvas work EXTREMELY well – they barely burn at all. So, believe it or not, some ultralight fabrics still can't pass that standard without FR. It's a huge step in the right direction but it's also a huge disappointment.

Here's an interesting development:

The MoonLight tents have NO fire retardant chemicals on any fabrics or components. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.
Our tents also use no PVCs or fluorinated anythings – no PTFE, no PFOA, no PFASs – not as part of any finish, not part of any laminate, not part of any component. These are PFAS-free tents.

In case you're curious, here's a list of common FR chemicals used on other tents:

tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl)phosphate (TDCIPP)
triphenyl phosphate (TPHP)
tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP)
tris(2-chloropropyl) phosphate (TCIPP)
3,5,3’,5’- tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA)
tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP)
1,2,5,6,9,10- hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
1,2-bis(pentabromophenyl) ethane (DBDPE)
2,2-bis(chloromethyl)trimethylene bis[bis(2- chloroethyl) phosphate] (V6)
2-ethylhexyl-2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate (TBB)
bis(2- ethylhexyl)-tetrabromophthalate (TBPH),
decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE)
cctabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE)
pentabromodiphenyl ether (PentaBDE)

and a few probably less dangerous ones:
Ammonium Phosphate Monobasic (CAS# 28537-48-6) (very soluble in water)
Ammonium bromide (CAS# 12124-97-9) (very soluble in water)
Sulfanilic acid. (CAS# 121-57-3) (slightly soluble in water, ~1g/l)


Towards a Chemical-Free Tent

We don't use fluorinated anything on or in any part of the tent, the fabric, the finishes, or any parts or parts of parts. These are PFAS-free tents. Even the DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatment of our fabrics is PFAS-free. We use only silicone water repellency treatments on our fabrics and silicone or nothing on small components. Silicone has an amazingly safe track record. It's odorless, tasteless, and it's used in millions of food-contact applications. It's even used in "personal lubricants." All without adverse health affects. So we're confident that brushing up against our silicone treated fabrics isn't a danger.

And, just to be thorough, we also use no PVCs. Our windows are polyurethane.

All fluorine-carbon based chemicals bioaccumulate and persist; they break down very very slowly. So despite their low concentration and general inertness, once they're in you (and they ARE in you) they have essentially your whole life to misbehave, interfering with your endocrine system and dribbling breakdown products randomly inside your body. So we've banned ALL fluorinated anythings from our products. Here's a great resource for
this discussion.

Good for REI:

More public awakening:

Read this article

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Here’s info on it rubbing off on you when you handle a tent:
Flame retardants in tents may rub off on hands
Not just "May" rub off anymore:
Flame Retardant Applications in Camping Tents and Potential Exposure
And here's another one: Characterizing Flame Retardant Applications and Potential Human Exposure in Backpacking Tents

Arlene Blum, the leading researcher in this field, explains FR chemicals rather fully at sixclasses.org but I found the slide below particularly insightful: the flame retardant PBDE is almost identical to PCBs, Dioxins and Furans – they are all remarkably similar in structure. And they're all extremely bad for you (cancer causing, endocrine disrupting, long lasting in humans).

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Or a shorter one here: http://www.sixclasses.org/flame-retardants/

And the problem isn’t just tents. It’s the FR foams in
your furniture that’s probably exposing you most - and FR foams don’t even work: CPSC scientists found that chairs containing flame retardants, like the one being tested below, burn just as fast as identical chairs without them. (Consumer Products Safety Commission / May 5, 2012). Lower burn rates came with the use of barrier type fabrics, not FR foams.
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The depths of the deception really have to be read to be believed. How is it not ILLEGAL for a company or an industry group to do this?

If we’re lucky we’ll see some of the actual people who are doing this to us when this movie comes out: