CO2 vs Dry Powder Fire Extinguisher: What’s The Difference?

Fire extinguishers serve as the first line of defence against the devastating impacts of fire outbreaks. They are fundamental in safeguarding lives and property in residential or commercial settings. However, it’s vital to remember that not all fire extinguishers are the same, and understanding the differences is fundamental to efficient fire safety practices.

You’ll typically encounter two types of fire extinguishers: CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and dry powder. Being aware of differences in how they’re used and when to use them will ensure you know how to protect yourself and those around you in an emergency.

In this article, we’ll spotlight the differences between CO2 extinguishers and dry powder fire extinguishers, delve into their functionalities, and demystify the situations they’re most adept at handling.

What are the Materials Used in CO2 and Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers?

CO2 extinguishers are filled with pressurised liquid carbon dioxide as their primary material. When activated, the extinguisher’s valve releases the compressed CO2 gas directed towards the fire. As the gas rapidly expands, it displaces oxygen, thereby smothering the flames and suppressing the fire.

On the other hand, dry powder fire extinguishers rely on a dry powder chemical agent as their primary material. The specific composition of the powder may vary, but it often includes substances like mono ammonium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, or potassium bicarbonate depending on the type of fire it has to fight. This dry powder acts as a fire suppressant by interrupting the chemical reaction of the fire, thereby inhibiting its ability to sustain and spread.

Types Of Fires CO2 and Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers Combat

What is a CO2 Extinguisher Used For?

A CO2 extinguisher is used to combat:

  • Electrical Fires: These involve equipment such as electrical cords or plugs, panels, computers, or generators.
  • Class B Fires: These involve flammable liquids like gasoline, alcohol, and paint.

What is Dry Powder Fire Extinguisher Used For?

Dry powder fire extinguishers are used to combat:

  • Class A Fires: These involve flammable solids such as cloth, paper, wood, rubber, and certain plastics.
  • Class B Fires: Fires involving flammable liquids like petrol, diesel, alcohol, and oil-based paint.
  • Class C Fires: Fires involving flammable gases such as butane and methane.
  • Electrical Fires: Fires involving electrical equipment up to 1000 volts.

Pros and Cons of CO2 and Dry Powder Fire Extinguisher

CO2 Extinguishers


  • Leaves no residue after discharge
  • Causes no harm to electronics, an essential quality for preserving assets
  • Provides immediate fire suppression due to their cooling effect and ability to displace oxygen


  • Potential cold burns from handling
  • Risk of asphyxiation in confined spaces due to oxygen displacement

Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers


  • Effective for a broader range of fire classes, including Class A, B, C, and electrical fires
  • Safe for use on electrical fires, as they are non-conductive
  • More resistant to frost compared to extinguishers that contain water


  • Slight danger of fire re-ignition
  • Powder discharge can result in the dispersion of residue over a wide area, making the cleanup process costly and time-consuming
  • Most powders are highly corrosive and will result in damage to equipment if not cleaned up quickly

The Importance of Understanding Different Types of Fire Extinguishers

Understanding and making informed choices about fire extinguishers is not just a matter of compliance but a cornerstone of personal safety. Selecting the right type of fire extinguisher, such as CO2 or dry powder, can drastically alter the effectiveness of your response in case of fire emergencies.

The importance of this decision lies in the fact that different extinguishers are designed to combat specific classes of fires. Misusing them may not only fail to suppress the fire but might even escalate and worsen the situation. Therefore, knowing their specific uses allows you to make decisions tailored to your specific environment and needs.

Start educating yourself about the different fire extinguishers, as this will equip you to select the most suitable one in times of crisis. Remember, your informed decision today can safeguard your tomorrow.

Buy Quality Fire Extinguishers in Singapore from Fire Armour

Fire Armour is your trusted partner in Singapore when buying fire extinguishers and accessing top-notch fire safety services. Our offerings include high-quality CO2 extinguishersdry powder fire extinguishers, and other diverse options like foam fire extinguishers. Our expert team recognises the distinct fire safety requirements of different environments and situations, and we are dedicated to assisting you in making the right choice.

To enhance your safety measures, Fire Armour also offers a range of additional fire safety equipment, including fire hoses and fire hose reels. We also provide critical services such as fire alarm maintenance to ensure your systems at home or in the workplace remain prepared for potential hazards.

Trust in Fire Armour’s expertise and commitment to excellence, and together, let’s create a safer and more secure environment for everyone.

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