Fortunately knock on wood I have never experienced a stove fire. Yet I have always kept a box of baking soda in the cupboard above the stove, just in case. And while it’s true that baking soda has been used for many years to stave off fires, I was surprised to learn that it has also been used in mattresses. So when I asked the president of Lifekind, Walt Bader, his opinion on this subject, I got quite an explanation — and, I must say, a major education.
According to Walt:
“There are some mattress manufacturers that say baking soda is safe because we bake with it, brush our teeth with it, and, in the form of carbon dioxide, even put it in beverages. So how can it not be safe?
“Technically, we don’t breathe in carbon dioxide (CO2), we excrete it in our breath as a waste product. Re-breathing into a plastic bag can cause carbon dioxide poisoning. At higher levels you can experience panic, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, unconsciousness, or even death. And even though we’re talking about CO2, not baking soda, when baking soda is involved in a fire, it produces…guess what? Carbon dioxide. And it is absolutely possible to experience anoxia (total depletion in the level of oxygen) or asphyxiation from breathing CO2, which is created when harmless baking soda reacts to the heat of a fire.
“CO2 can kill you. In a fire environment, I am less concerned with CO2 reducing levels of oxygen than I am with the fact that it regulates breathing function because of changes in pH in the sleeper’s blood.
“This is why we use the more expensive option of wool as the only flame retardant in our mattresses.”