Volume 23, Issue 1 (January 1978)
Accelerant Detection in Fire Residues
In 1975 personnel at the Institute of Forensic Sciences realized that a full range of analytical technics was not being used in the examination of evidence from suspicious fires. Simple steam distillation was followed by infrared spectroscopic examination, but in a distressing number of cases no apparent accelerant was detected. Midkiff and Washington  described the use of gas-liquid chromatography (GLC) with headspace sampling, and Cain  followed with capillary column GLC. Later Yip and Clair  developed a system for identifying trace amounts of petroleum produced from fire debris. As they pointed out, the most common accelerants encountered are naphtha (C5 to C8 hydrocarbons), gasoline (C5 to C12 hydrocarbons), and fuel oils (C8 to C22 hydrocarbons). From work described in these papers, modifications suitable to available instrumentation evolved.