Is Shoe Polish Dangerous Goods

One visitor to this website asked “Is wax shoe polish dangerous goods?”

Let’s not go into the history of different shoes and different types of shoe polishes but look straight into the solid wax shoe polish with respect to dangerous goods classification.

Some of the wax shoe polish such as those made from Bee wax or Canauba wax do not fall under the criteria of dangerous goods classification but some with petroleum based wax do meet the provisions of IMDG Code for transport.

Certain shoe polishes are classified as Dangerous Goods Class 4.1 Flammable solids.

For example:

Image from Wikimedia' 'Created by User: Petaholmes''
Image from Wikimedia’ ‘Created by User: Petaholmes”
  1. KIWI™ Shoe Polish

UN 1325, FLAMMABLE SOLID, ORGANIC, N.O.S. Contains Liquid hydrocarbon, Paraffin and other waxes and Other non-hazardous ingredients

2. KIWI Shoe polish – L21

UN 3175 Solids containing flammable liquid, n.o.s. Contains Naphtha (petroleum), hydrotreated heavy

Section of IMDG Code 38-16 says that The classification shall be made by the shipper. Which means the shipper who is shipping out shoe polish must ascertain whether the shoe polish is dangerous goods or not and prepare the consignment in accordance with all applicable provisions of IMDG Code.

Class 4.1, Flammable solids means Solids which, under conditions encountered in transport, are readily combustible or may cause or contribute to fire through friction; Readily combustible solids means fibres, powdered, granular, or pasty substances which are dangerous if they can be easily ignited by brief contact with an ignition source such as a burning match, and if the flame spreads rapidly.

The criteria for readily combustible solids are given in the Manual of Tests and Criteria, part III, 33.2.1, when the time of burning of one or more of the test runs is less than 45 s or the rate of burning is more than 2.2 mm/s. Packing group II shall be assigned if the burning time is less than 45 s and the flame passes the wetted zone and packing group III shall be assigned if the burning time is less than 45 s and the wetted zone stops the flame propagation for at least four minutes.

It is imperative that shippers and other stakeholders in maritime industry to understand dangerous goods regulations which if not complied can result in fatalities at sea



  1. Thanks for the useful information as usual Shashi.. As a carrier, agent, or forwarder, what should they ask the customer if they see cargo description as Shoe Polish..?? Should they insist on the MSDS just to make sure that the declarations are correct..??

    1. Harish, Thanks for your comment. As a carrier or carriers agent we must ask for safety data sheet to ascertain whether the shoe polish offered is dangerous goods or not. We must insist the safety data sheet is in accordance with latest GHS classification + IMDG Code Classification. Depending on the properties and composition if the line is okay to accept as non hazardous they can even ask for a non hazardous declaration from shipper and further to enhance safety load the box on board ship with segregation as for class 4.1 and away from all sources of heat. Stowage code AFH in company’s load list.


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