Do you have an old or expired fire extinguisher at home? Then find out how you should dispose of it in this article!

Extinguisher TypeHow to Safely Empty the Extinguisher
PowderNeeds specialist disposal
FoamEmpty into a sewer drain
CO2Disperse into the air
WaterEmpty into a drain
Wet ChemicalNeeds specialist disposal

How to Dispose of Any Fire Extinguisher:

  1. Let the canister sit for a few days
  2. Disconnect the head from the cylinder
  3. Recycle

You must dispose of your fire extinguisher properly. For more details on how you should go about disposing of yours, take a look at the extended guide below.

Fire Extinguisher Lasts How Long?

How to Dispose of Fire Extinguishers

Do you have an old or expired fire extinguisher knocking around? You must dispose of a fire extinguisher correctly. Their proper disposal ensures the safety of those in your community.

It is safe for you to dispose of some fire extinguishers on your own. But some of them may be best disposed of by a professional. The following is a list of instructions. It will help you see what’s the best course of action for your extinguisher.

Powder

You must dispose of a powder fire extinguisher professionally. You can do this by taking it down to your local recycling center where they will be able to dispose of it for you. 

As an alternative, you can take yours to a Household Hazardous Waste collection site (HHW). These sites are not always available all month round. You will have to contact your council to find out when and where the next local HHW collection will take place. 

So why are powder fire extinguishers so dangerous for you to tackle?

Powder extinguishers should be handled by professionals for the following reasons:

  • Although the powder is non-toxic it can irritate the skin.
  • The powder inside the extinguisher is very fine and easy to inhale while discharging.
  • The volume and speed of the escaping powder are very powerful. It is difficult to keep under control. The force of the powder leaving the cylinder could cause injury.

CO2 Extinguishers

You can discharge and then recycle old and expired CO2 fire extinguishers on your own. Here are the steps that will help you discharge yours:

  1. Ensure that the extinguisher is fitted with a hard horn. If it isn’t do not attempt to discharge the fire extinguisher. Rather, take the extinguisher to your local recycling center. Or take it to a Household Hazardous Waste collection site (HHW).
  2. Operate the discharge handle to empty the cylinder. 
  3. Leave the fire extinguisher upright for a few days to ensure that the cylinder is empty. 
  4. Remove the head from the cylinder.
  5. Follow the guidelines from your local recycling center. They will assist you with recycling the head and the steel cylinder.

So as you can see from step 1, you shouldn’t discharge a CO2 fire extinguisher without a hard horn. But what’s all the panic about?

The cylinder of a CO2 fire extinguisher has a high level of built-in pressure. So what happens if your extinguisher does not have a hard horn? The CO2 will release out of the cylinder with alarming force. The force of the CO2 leaving the cylinder will make the canister jolt and could lead to injury.

CO2 Extinguishers are usually identified by their ‘hard horn’

Foam

You can carefully discharge a foam fire extinguisher on your own and then dispose of it. Take a look at how:

  1. Discharge the extinguisher into a waste sewer. Avoid spillages as the foam is slightly toxic. Discharge it until the cylinder is completely empty.
  2. Leave the cylinder for a few days to ensure that it is empty.
  3. Remove the head from the cylinder.
  4. Follow the guidelines from your local recycling center. They will assist you with recycling the head and the steel cylinder.

Now I must emphasize the need to err on the side of caution when it comes to foam extinguishers.

Emptying a foam fire extinguisher is a messy job, it is also one that you have to be extremely careful of. This is because of the toxic chemicals contained in a foam fire extinguisher. 

You also have to be careful about where you empty a foam extinguisher. Discharge it into a waste sewer rather than an underwater drain.

Don’t attempt to empty a foam extinguisher in the house neither down the toilet or sink. This is because the volume of the foam could overwhelm a household plumbing system. 

Are you unsure about where you can discharge your extinguisher? Then your safest bet is to take it to your local recycling center where they will dispose of it for you. You can also take it to a Household Hazardous Waste collection site (HHW).

Water

You can empty a water fire extinguisher on your own then recycle it. To discharge and recycle yours, do the following:

  1. Discharge the cylinder into a drain. Ensure that the contents are completely empty. 
  2. Remove the head from the cylinder.
  3. Follow the guidelines from your local recycling center. They will assist you with recycling the head and the steel cylinder.

Wet Chemical

You should dispose of wet chemical fire extinguishers professionally. You should take them down to your local recycling center where they will be able to dispose of them for you. 

As an alternative, you can take yours to a Household Hazardous Waste collection site (HHW). These sites are not always available all month round. You will have to contact your council to find out when and where the next local HHW collection will take place. 

Which Type of Fire Extinguisher Should I Use?

There are many types of fire extinguishers. So, which type of fire extinguisher should you use with different classes of fires?

The following is a list of the most commonly used fire extinguishers. You will see which class of fire you can use your extinguisher with. 

Class A 
Solid Material Fires
Class B
Flammable Liquid Fires
Class C Flammable Gas FiresClass D Flammable Metal FiresClass E Electrical FiresClass FHot Oil and Fat Fires
Powder✓*✓*✓*✓*
Foam
CO2
Water
Wet Chemical

*NOTE. Powder fire extinguishers fall into 3 categories. You can find which category yours falls into by checking the label on the front of the extinguisher. The categories are:

  • ABC powder
  • M28 powder
  • L2 powder

You can use ABC powder extinguishers on class A, B, and C fires. ABC extinguishers are not suitable for class D fires. 

You can use M28 and L2 powder extinguishers to tackle class D fires. M28 and L2 powder extinguishers are not suitable for class A, B, and C fires.

Conclusion

There are many types of fire extinguishers. And each type has specific disposal instructions.

You can dispose of some of them on your own but others will call for professional help.

I hope this article has helped you find out what you should do to safely dispose of your fire extinguisher.

If this article has helped you, then why not check out some of our other articles and free guides? You could even sign up to our email list! 

Have a great day!

-Craig