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A flame retardant is a chemical substance that makes things harder to burn. Some flame retardants are minerals or inorganic compounds like antimony trioxide or asbestos. Other flame retardants are special types of plastics and polymers. There are several ways flame retardants work. Some absorb heat when they are heated, stopping the thing from igniting. Others stop the heat from the fire from going into the thing. Flame retardants are used in textiles and bedding to prevent them from burning easily.