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How A Flame Retardant Spray Works

By Andrea Davidson

A flame retardant spray is used to reduce combustion or derail the flammability of fuels. The product is mainly made from chemicals that are capable of cooling down fuels and prevent them from burning. Examples include fire retardant gels and fire-fighting foams that are often used in fire fighting. They mainly work through two ways, physical and chemical methods, in order to extinguish fires.

Physically, there are several ways through which these sprays can work to put off a burning fire. For instance, certain fire retardant sprays produce a cooling effect that serves to reduce the combustion rate of burning particles. The sprayed fumes can also form protective layers that protect the burning materials from contacting fire. Retardant sprays which contain water or carbon (IV) oxide gas can also dissolve soluble burning particles with an aim of stopping further combustion.

Generally, many fire retardants are usually made from a mixture hydromagnesite, huntite, magnesium hydroxide, and aluminum hydroxide. Aluminum hydroxide in the mixture absorbs large amounts of heat to form aluminum oxide particles and water, which serves to cool the burning material. Since the reaction involve absorption of much heat, it contributes to cooling the burning material and stop further burning.

Additionally, the remnants of aluminum particles collect to form an inflammable layer on the surface of the burning material. The other constituents of the product also undergo the same procedure and release carbon (IV) oxide gas that derails the combustion process. Fire retardant sprays can also deploy a chemical process of extinguishing a burning fire.

The sprayer releases gaseous substances that react with combustible gases in the flame to interrupt their flammability. Similarly, the sprayed gases would react with the solid particles of the burning material to form polymers, that then melt down and flow to the burning fire. As a result, the fumes reduce combustible particles in the fire thus extinguishing it.

If the burning results from carbonated types of fuel, spray fumes reacts with the fuel to form a char that contributes to stopping the fire. The carbon char is always highly inflammable and serves to protect the fuel from contacting the burning flames. There are also the intumescent types of flame retardants that react with fire to form insulation on the surface of the burning material.

These types of chemicals are often used in plastics and paints to protect other structures from contacting fire. Fire retardants are often used in different ways in order to put off a burning fire. For instance, fire extinguishing sprayers contain the class A foams which interrupts flammability through creating a fire break.

In addition, there are other flame retardant spray products which have solid particles that would react with the fire flames to form a coat that blocks the burning material. In case a forest is in flames, a jet can be used in spraying retardants over it to stop the fire. Similarly, aerial fighters such as smoke jumpers may use helicopters and parachutes to spray the retardants over a burning surface.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Davidson, Andrea "How A Flame Retardant Spray Works." How A Flame Retardant Spray Works. 25 Apr. 2014. 30 Jul 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Davidson, A (2014, April 25). How A Flame Retardant Spray Works. Retrieved July 30, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Davidson, Andrea "How A Flame Retardant Spray Works"

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