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Cool Science - Fire Extinguisher

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Cool Science - Fire Extinguisher

Today you are going to learn how to make your own carbon dioxide fire extinguisher.

An easy way to make CO2 is to start with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), a base, and mixing it with vinegar (acetic acid). When baking soda and vinegar are combined the reaction creates carbonic acid, which is unstable and will decompose into CO2 and water. You can see the bubbly reaction as CO2 gas is produced.

To prove that there is CO2 produced we can put a flaming splint into the container and notice that the flame will extinguish. A flame requires oxygen, fuel and sufficient heat to ignite and stay lit. The easiest way to extinguish a flame is to suffocate it by covering it with something so that no O2 can get to it. When we put the splint in the CO2 gas produced from the reaction it reduces the amount of O2 available and the flame will go out.

Now let's see if CO2 gas can be used to extinguish these candles.
*Attempt to pour the invisible gas out over the candles. *
As you can see the flames are going out.

When you pour the gas from the container the CO2 molecule is larger and heavier than a O2 molecule and it falls underneath exposing the flame to CO2, which suffocates the flame. It is almost like you are pouring a liquid but you are pouring a gas.

Playing with fire is always dangerous and should only be done with adult supervision. In your kitchen you should have a fire extinguisher in case of a fire but it is also handy to have extra baking soda as well.

Now that's cool science!

Extra: CO2 -- carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a clean, non-conductive, non-corrosive, odorless gas used to reduce the amount of oxygen available to the fire. CO2 is extracted from the atmosphere and stored at high pressure in the liquid state within a fire extinguisher. CO2 Fire Extinguishers are used for class B flammable liquids fires including: gasoline, oil, grease, acetone, etc., as well as, Class C Electrical fires.

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