We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A carbon dioxide (CO2) fire extinguisher is a firefighting tool that is loaded with pressurized carbon dioxide gas. This gas expands very rapidly when a person deploys the device to smother a fire, limiting the fire's supply of oxygen. Many hardware and home supply stores sell carbon dioxide fire extinguishers and it is also possible to install a CO2 fire suppression system in a facility where it might be useful.

This type of fire extinguisher is suitable for use on class B and C fires. Class B fires involve flammable liquids such as kerosene, and class C fires include electrical equipment. In a fire involving a flammable liquid, the gas can limit the supply of oxygen to the fire when it expands, putting out the fire. For electrical fires, it does the same thing, and because it is electrically nonconductive, there is a low risk of shock.

Class A fires that involve combustible materials are not safe for a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. The high-pressure gas can actually scatter the materials and make the fire larger. In addition, it might not suppress the oxygen supply long enough to put out the fire. The materials could smolder, and when the gas dissipates, the fire might flare up again. Fire extinguishers should have rating indications to indicate the kinds of fires on which they can be used and it can be helpful for a person to get familiar with the ratings in preparation for a fire.

A typical carbon dioxide fire extinguisher has a hard, horn-shaped nozzle to direct the flow of gas. The operator should be careful, because this gas is extremely cold when it vents from the extinguisher. Chunks of dry ice can form around the rim, and people could develop injuries if they handle the nozzle. It also is potentially dangerous to use such devices in areas that don't have a supply of oxygen for the operator, because he or she could suffocate while putting out the fire.

One advantage of the carbon dioxide fire extinguisher is that it does not leave residue. The gas evaporates and clears the area. This can be important in a location that has expensive electronic equipment, because other suppression devices might damage the equipment. It also can be helpful for other types of fires, after which cleanup might be a concern. A carbon dioxide fire extinguisher should be regularly inspected to make sure that it works, and it can be refilled after use.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All The Science researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ZipLine — On Mar 05, 2013

My little brother decided to play with the fire extinguisher we have in our kitchen and sprayed it everywhere, including his face. He had to go to the hospital and they rinsed his eyes with a special solution.

Apparently, it can be very dangerous if the foam from the extinguisher gets into the eyes and mouth because it has some type of chemical in it.

By literally45 — On Mar 04, 2013

@donasmrs-- It's a great idea to keep a fire extinguisher in the car. I think quite a few people die every year from car fires. I'm not sure which is the best type to get but it should be either class B or C.

I think class B is for petrol and class C is for lpg (gas) which is more common in Europe. And then there is glass A which is good for rubber. There is also some kind of standard that carbon dioxide fire extinguishers have to be built up to and a symbol of the standard should be on the bottle.

By donasmrs — On Mar 03, 2013

Is anyone carrying a portable carbon dioxide fire extinguisher in their car?

I'm thinking of getting one.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.