Why Soda Acid Fire Extinguishers Are No Longer Used

Updated April 13, 2018

Fire extinguishers were invented in the 1800s. The ones we use today are much different from the original extinguishers. Soda-acid extinguishers were phased out due to safety and maintenance concerns.


Soda-acid fire extinguishers used a combination of baking soda and sulphuric acid as part of a chain reaction to force a high-pressure stream of water out of the extinguisher. The two were often mixed by turning the extinguisher upside down so that a plug blocking the sulphuric acid would drop out, letting the acid mix with the soda. Other models had a plunger you had to push down to open the acid container.

Not In Use

Soda-acid extinguishers had an unfortunate tendency to explode. Their effectiveness and readiness for use also faded quite quickly, and finding maintenance and replacement parts became so difficult that by 1969, companies had stopped making the soda-acid extinguisher.

Still Mentioned

You might still see soda-acid extinguishers mentioned as suitable models for extinguishing Class A fires, or those involving materials like paper and wood. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says these are old lists of what can be used, not necessarily what is approved for use.

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About the Author

Suzanne S. Wiley is an editor and writer in Southern California. She has been editing since 1989 and began writing in 2009. Wiley received her master's degree from the University of Texas and her work appears on various websites.