Carbon dioxide

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Carbon dioxide fire extinguisher


A colorless, odorless gas. Carbon dioxide is naturally produced as a byproduct of respiration, combustion, and decomposition. It has an abundance of 0.027-0.036% in earth's atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is used to make carbonated beverages, aerosol propellants, and fire extinguishers. In museums, it has also been used to create inert, oxygen-free environments to minimize oxidative degradation and to asphyxite insects. Solid carbon dioxide, Dry ice, is used for refrigeration and special effects. Liquid carbon dioxide, compressed at high pressures (see Supercritical fluid), has been used as a solvent to remove DDT from artifacts (Kang et al. 2004).

Carbon dioxide fire extinguisher

Synonyms and Related Terms

carbonic anhydride; fixed gas; carbonic acid gas; dry ice (solid); anhydride carbonique (Fr.); carbondioxid (Dan.); Kohlenstoffdioxid (Deut.); dióxido de carbono (Esp., Port.); dioxyde de carbone (Fr.); anidride carbonica (It.); kooldioxide (Ned.); koolstofdioxide (Ned.); karbondioksid (Nor.); dwutlenek wêgla (Pol.); anidrido carbónico (Port.); koldioxid (Sven.)


  • Asphyxiating in concentrations over 10%.
  • Noncombustible.
  • Airgas: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Soluble in water forming carbonic acid. pKa = 6.35 and 10.33

Composition CO2
CAS 124-38-9
Melting Point -78.5 C
Density 1.98 kg/m3 (gas)
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 44.0
Refractive Index 1.195 (liquid)
Boiling Point -65 C

Resources and Citations

  • Sung Mo Kang, Achim Unger, J.J. Morrell, 'The Effect of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Extraction of Color Retention and Pesticide Reduction of Wooden Artifacts' JAIC 43(2) 151-160, 2004.
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 144
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 1857
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: ref. index=1.195 (liquid)

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