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

It seems like a simple question: “Your tents are fire retardant, 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 – they're what's called persistent. 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. 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.

I should also mention that the standard that was adopted by those 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. 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 – see, this is why we can't have nice things!

The MoonLight tents have NO fire retardant chemicals on any fabrics or components. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.

In case you're curious, here's a list of common FR chemicals used on some 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 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 also don't use any fluorinated DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatments (aka "Teflon"). Two issues: they're made of PFOA or PFOS (either could be called "C8" because they have eight carbon atoms as their backbone) or shorter versions vaguely called "C6". All of them 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, dribbling breakdown products at random inside your body. There's also the issue that a little leftover PFOAs or PFOSs from the DWR manufacturing process can be expected to be in the final DWR. Those precursors are very definitely bad for you. So we're banning all fluorinated DWR from our products. We use silicone DWR on all our fabrics and silicone or nothing on small components.

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

Here's a lecture by Arlene Blum. She explains one class of FR chemicals rather fully 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: