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Author Topic: Could baking soda be used on bushfires?  (Read 6689 times)

paul.fr

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« on: 08/02/2009 18:32:05 »
Australian bushfires kill 84

Could baking soda dropped from airplanes be an effective,alternative method, of outing bushfires?


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #1 on: 08/02/2009 19:52:55 »
Well, you could use it, but have you ever seen the mess a dry powder fire extinguisher makes?
 

paul.fr

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #2 on: 08/02/2009 21:07:46 »
I'm sure the mess will be more favourable than the loss of homes, life and bush. My question relates more to would baking soda be more effective than water? With water being a scarce commodity in Australia, and it never looks that effective at outing a fire quickly.

You could even use it with direct fired munitions...I suppose.
 

Offline Karen W.

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #3 on: 08/02/2009 21:40:35 »
what about the salt properties..especially in mass quanity like that?
 

lyner

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #4 on: 08/02/2009 21:43:14 »
How much would be readily available?
Sainsbury's don't have many tubs on their shelves and we're even running out of salt for the roads.
 

paul.fr

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #5 on: 08/02/2009 21:45:28 »
what about the salt properties..especially in mass quanity like that?

Is it a salt or a base? /confused!

OK, what if we used bicarb of soda (again, is it a salt or a base)
 

paul.fr

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #6 on: 08/02/2009 21:46:51 »
How much would be readily available?
Sainsbury's don't have many tubs on their shelves and we're even running out of salt for the roads.

But we are talking Australia, not the UK.
 

lyner

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #7 on: 08/02/2009 22:56:46 »
Do they have a lot of the stuff on the supermarket shelves over there?
 

paul.fr

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #8 on: 08/02/2009 23:03:45 »
...getting back on topic, anyone care to offer an answer?
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #9 on: 09/02/2009 07:45:18 »
Well, I was going to try it outside but unfortunately it began to rain :(, but I can't complain, we haven't had rain for donkey years. Those bush fires could do with a bit of rain that's for sure..
 

lyner

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #10 on: 09/02/2009 07:52:13 »
Is there enough to be significant though?
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #11 on: 09/02/2009 07:53:53 »
How much is enough?
----
If only they can just make them quick and fast...
----
Having said that, I'm not convinced that it'll work yet.

 

Offline Karen W.

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #12 on: 09/02/2009 08:00:52 »
what about the salt properties..especially in mass quanity like that?

Is it a salt or a base? /confused!

OK, what if we used bicarb of soda (again, is it a salt or a base)

I am not sure was just thinking that there wa a lot of sodium.but unsure also....

you would think it would work dependng on availability of the stuff.
 

lyner

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #13 on: 09/02/2009 09:57:52 »
tons and tons and tons would not be 'enough'.
I guess a few tons a year is the maximum output of the factories.
 

Offline JnA

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #14 on: 09/02/2009 10:31:48 »
Anything that blankets or takes away one of the three elements of fire will be effective. I feel baking soda, while it could put out a small fire, would be not cohesive (?) enough to properly blanket a large fire enough to have any effect.


But resources are limited.. and these brushfires the country is experiencing currently are massive.. fire fighters are trying to 'control' them not necessarily put them out... but contain or redirect them.

Death toll is now up to 134..
 

Offline rosy

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #15 on: 09/02/2009 10:38:36 »
I suspect you couldn't get enough of it on to make an appreciable difference. The convection currents of the heat rising will be strong enough that the CO2 evolved on heating the bicarb would just rise with the rest of the gases around and be lost.

(Haven't done any maths/whatever to back that up, but that's my feeling).
 

lyner

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #16 on: 09/02/2009 17:37:15 »
You'd have to drop it in wet form, in non combustible packs so that it got to the ground and drop it upwind of the burning front of the fire.
The problem is the very high wind which will shift any volume of inert gas very quickly. At least water has a cooling effect, too.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #17 on: 09/02/2009 19:59:00 »
from wiki
"NaHCO3 is mainly prepared by the Solvay process, which is the reaction of calcium carbonate, sodium chloride, ammonia, and carbon dioxide in water. It is produced on the scale of about 100,000 ton/year (as of 2001).[2]"

Firefighting efforst use thousands of tons of water and bicarbonate isn't much better. You would need to divert a significant fraction of the worlds annual production top try to stop a single fire. That assumes that you can take it from wherever it is at the moment and move it to where you need it.

On the other hand water is relatively cheap and common.
That's before you look at the potential damage done to the environment by the sodium carbonate formed.
Incidentally, the environment doesn't mind forrest fires- it has always had them and has evolved to deal with them.
It's only us who are in trouble.
« Last Edit: 09/02/2009 20:00:41 by Bored chemist »
 

paul.fr

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #18 on: 09/02/2009 21:35:16 »
Firefighting efforst use thousands of tons of water and bicarbonate isn't much better.


Thank you BC for actually answering the question. One karma point to you.
 

Offline yor_on

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #19 on: 10/02/2009 14:26:39 »
I don't know how difficult it is to stop a fire in Australia?
I guess fire can 'jump' a long way when the weather is very dry and hot??

But using bulldozers to create/open a 'fire gate' (?) might work?
(A 'delimiter' where nothing combustible would be)

And those you could airlift by helicopters perhaps.
A very dangerous occupation though.
 

Offline dentstudent

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #20 on: 10/02/2009 14:34:03 »
I don't know how difficult it is to stop a fire in Australia?
I guess fire can 'jump' a long way when the weather is very dry and hot??

But using bulldozers to create/open a 'fire gate' (?) might work?
(A 'delimiter' where nothing combustible would be)

And those you could airlift by helicopters perhaps.
A very dangerous occupation though.

The Eucalypt is very common in Aus - I don't know about the current area, but, if there are a lot of eucalypts then the fire can spread very quickly.

"On warm days vapourised Eucalyptus oil rises above the bush to create the characteristic distant blue haze of the Australian landscape. Eucalyptus oil is highly flammable (trees have been known to explode) and bush fires can travel easily through the oil-rich air of the tree crowns. The dead bark and fallen branches are also flammable. Eucalypts are well adapted for periodic fires via lignotubers and epicormic buds under the bark."
 

Offline justaskin

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #21 on: 10/02/2009 15:13:56 »
Considering we have been dealing with bushfire virtually since settlement I would have thought that if baking soda was effective it would have been tried by now.
Even if it was a success were would you store it waiting for a fire.Were you have it stored maybe hundreds of kilometres from were the fire starts.The thing with water is it is pretty readily available regardless of what you might read about us being a dry country.I dont think a lack of water was the problem
It would appear though that the fires on the weekend were that fast and that ferocious that people were just overwhelmed.It would appear that our system of fight or flight will have to be reevaluated in light of the weekends events.
Of course a lot of the blame can be sheeted home to conservationists who refuse to let the method of controlled burning to take place and hence the build up of huge amounts of fuel on the forrest floor.
We pretty much know how to reduce the risk the fact that we don't do anything about it is another story.

Cheers
justaskin
 

Offline JnA

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
« Reply #22 on: 10/02/2009 22:56:36 »
The big issue with these fires has been the wind.
 

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Could baking soda be used on bushfires?
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