Alternative Methods of Extinguishing a Fire

24 April 2015

Fire safety is an extremely important and life concerning issue and therefore so is the subject of fire extinguishers. There are many different types of fire extinguisher available for many different applications, from dry powder extinguishers to liquid ones and beyond. The best extinguishers available on the market today incorporate innovative technology and features to make them even more effective than they’ve ever been. Nonetheless, research never stops and as time moves on, so will the development of these fire safety devices.

This notion is definitely advocated by two George Mason University students (USA) who have invented a sound-controlled fire extinguisher, putting out flames using ultra low-frequency bass sound waves. The powerful sounds waves are between 30 Hz and 60 Hz, creating a tiny gap between the fuel of the fire and the surrounding oxygen to effectively prevent the fire from reigniting.

Taking inspiration from this research and development project, we are going to highlight some more alternative methods of putting out a fire and discuss the practicality of each.

The Power of Sound

For now though, more on the power of sound! The basic principle of this method is that the nearby surrounding oxygen is displaced by pressure waves caused by the sound. The correct frequency separates the oxygen from the fuel and therefore prevents a flame from reigniting. Not just any old music works either as it needs to be a consistent sound wave at a set frequency.

This research has sparked the interest of local fire departments, who have called for yet more experimentation to identify its practicality on larger, structural fires. If it works in this respect, it could eliminate the need for chemical-based extinguishers. So who knows? Sometime in the not so distant future, we may be blasting fires with sound instead of sprinkling them with water!

Cow Hooves

Now for some more unconventional alternatives to extinguishing a fire – let’s start with cow hooves. This modern innovation extracts a protein called keratin from cow hooves; this is then used to create a special fire extinguishing foam-like material. This foam can be used to control airport fires and is utilised by rescues teams all across Britain.

The material is designed to suppress extremely hot, high-intensity fires sparked by aviation fuel. The keratin in particular bonds the foam bubbles together into a robust blanket; preventing it from breaking on impact with the fire. This makes it an effective material to smother flames with.

Baking Soda

This common household item possesses more power than you first think! Not only is it a staple cooking ingredient and an effective cleaning agent – it’s also a fantastic fire extinguisher! Sodium bicarbonate can be used to put out small and tameable house fires such as small grease or electrical fires. The powdered substance smothers the fuel and cools the fire at the base of the flame. Of course, this cannot be up-scaled for more widespread use, but it’s handy to know should you experience a small kitchen fire!


Similar to baking soda, salt is another natural fire extinguisher that is sitting right there in your kitchen cupboard! What many people fail to realise is that salt is actually one of the main ingredients found within a conventional fire extinguisher. So salt just had to be on this list! Salt disperses heat and minimizes oxygen supply to a fire. This is especially useful if you experience a grease fire on or around the oven.

Safety First at all Times!

As fun and interesting as this article may be, we of course do not advise or recommend that anyone experiments with fire! We strongly recommend that you use conventional fire extinguishers, wherever possible, when dealing with a fire of any sort! Leave the experiments to the scientists inside the laboratories and ensure you know what you are doing with your conventional fire extinguisher before attempting to use it.

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