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fireext So I assume this happens to many people, every so often – you need to retire a fire extinguisher as it is past its "last good date" (sometimes by almost a year).  So you collect the one(s) that is being put out to pasture and get replacement(s).

Now what do you do with the old ones?  You clearly can’t just throw them in the trash – they can/will explode when they get compressed.

I found a little advice online

  • Place the extinguisher into two heavy duty plastic trash bags.
  • Outdoors, lay the bag with the extinguisher flat on level ground.
  • Fold the tops of the bags closed and with one foot, step on the fold.
  • With a free hand, find the extinguisher’s release lever from outside the bags. Gently squeeze and slowly release its contents.
  • Knot or tie the bags closed and place them into your regular household trash.

    While this makes sense, and would work for this type of home fire extinguisher, it sure seems like a waste of a perfectly good fire extinguisher.

    When thinking about this I was quickly reminded of Gever Tulley’s TED talk called "5 dangerous things you should let your kids do" (which actually ends up being a talk about safety).  One of the things he promotes is to let your kids, in the appropriate time and place (with supervision), start a fire – it’s Boy Scouts 101 – teach them to do things in the safe and proper way and you will have much less to worry about than if they end up experimenting and trying to figure it out on their own (without supervision).  So why not start a small fire in a fire pit somewhere and then put it out with the fire extinguisher?  I have to say I have never set off one of the white powdery fire extinguishers before, though I’ve been through a bunch of training/explanation on them.  I have fired the water-based ones in college, but that is a whole other story.

    I don’t want to ever give my kids the impression that they should not flee a fire, or have them take undo risks if they were in a crisis.  But sometimes a stove or pan catches fire, a car engine, a grill, a misfired model rocket, etc. and you don’t want to panic or try to read the instructions on the extinguisher for the first time at that moment.

    Anyone ever done anything specific with an old home fire extinguisher?  Or is the best/proper thing simply discharging it into a trashbag and recycling the remains?  I’ll keep them for now and decide in the spring – any thoughts/ideas would be appreciated.