How to Clean Up an Ammonium Phosphate Base From a Fire Extinguisher

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Promptly clean the mess your extinguisher leaves behind.
Promptly clean the mess your extinguisher leaves behind. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Ammonium phosphate dry chemical fire extinguishers are an essential tool for putting out fires. But while they get the job done, they leave quite a mess behind. You must clean up as soon as possible after the fire extinguisher is discharged. When ammonium phosphate combines with moisture in the air or elsewhere in the environment, it undergoes hydrolysis to form a mild phosphoric acid. This acid can corrode materials, such as metals and electrical equipment, that are sensitive to acidic substances.

Things You'll Need

  • Breathing mask
  • Goggles
  • Chemical-resistant gloves
  • Broom
  • Vacuum with filter
  • Trash bag
  • Bucket
  • Baking soda
  • Sponge
  • Rag

Put on a breathing mask. If the area is small (under a square yard), a dust mask will be fine. If there is a lot of clean-up to be done and you will be exposed to the particles for an hour or more, use a mechanical filter respirator. For added protection, don goggles and chemical-resistant gloves.

Sweep or vacuum up the bulk of the yellow powder. If you use a vacuum, make sure that it has a filter (HEPA filters are best). Otherwise, it will re-deposit some of the particles into the air.

Deposit the powder into a bag, tie it closed and discard it.

Moisten the area with a baking soda solution (1 cup baking soda to 3 gallons of water) and a sponge. Let the solution stand on the area for three to five minutes and wipe it clean.

Moisten a sponge with clean, warm water and wipe down the area again.

Scrub the area clean with soap and water.

Moisten a sponge with clean, warm water and wipe down the area again.

Towel the area dry or blow it dry with a hair dryer.

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