how to extinguish a fire of sodium, lithium or potassium?

what is the best way to extinguish a fire of one the alkali metals such as sodium, lithium or potassium?
water would not be a good idea as all of these burn it, but which substance would be?
carbon dioxide?

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though i m not a student of

though i m not a student of chemistry....... but i guess CO2 is gonna help..

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Just because someone doesn‘t

Just because someone doesn‘t love you the way you want them to, doesn‘t mean they don‘t love you with all they have. 

A very interesting content. I

A very interesting content. I myself sometimes wander how a fire extinguisher works.

Sand is the best option and

Sand is the best option and is the only thing you can find anywhere. Other special substances exist but I don't think you have them around the house. My flood damage repair guy told me about this and he also said that sand is good to put out electrical fires when there's a shortage and you don't wanna get burned.

Obviously the best idea is

Obviously the best idea is to avoid having a fire in the first place!
Lithium, sodium, and even potassium won't just catch fire spontaneously (although Na/K alloy will do so!). If they do take fire, sand is indeed the best option. Be certain not to use any halogenated hydrocarbon extinguishers (Halon and the like).

If it were a small amount, I would probably dump sand on it. For larger amounts (like 30g or so), I would probably clear the area and let it burn itself out rather than risk inhaling the caustic vapours or blinding myself with the fumes. Of course I'm assuming that you're doing this in a hood or outside in a draft in a lonely place where this is safer to do!

I would definitely say SAND

I would definitely say SAND is the best answer. Aside from the fact that you can find it everywhere, it has been proven to be very effective to extinguish alkali metals. In fact, fire trucks use sand to extinguish oil-based fires.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards,
Ed Hartwicke

Sand would be the best

Sand would be the best option for this. This would also be the easiest thing to find. It's better to use this than the other and would definitely would not cause burn.

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One needs a liquid medium to

One needs a liquid medium to handle major sodium fire. Of course water will exacerbates Na fire and should not be used. Dry chemical or sand will not be efficient to extinguiish major Na fire. Letting the fire to burnout as suggested in this column is not advisable as this will lead to enormous air pollution due to the highly corrosive Na oxide aerosols. The author and his colleagues have developed aqueous Epsom (MgSO4.7H2O) solution (1.5 to 2M) for Na metal dissolution and when this solution was sprayed through a high speed water jet (like the car washer jet), the Na fire got extinguished very efficiently. The tiny droplets of the solution even neutralised the Na aerosols. The byproducts are ecofriendly, sodium sulphate and magnesium hydroxide and hence Na fire fighting can be carried out with Epsom solution even at close quarters. The only precaution to be taken is hydrogen release which needs to be properly diluted/ventillated out so that it does not exceed the explosive limit. More details of this technique can be obtained from the author's publication Jl. Solid State Chemistry 177, pp 3460-3468, 2004.

proven to be very effective

proven to be very effective to extinguish alkali metals


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