When sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is heated, it becomes sodium carbonate. In this process water and carbon dioxide is released. The CO2 starves the fire of O2.
Sodium bicarbonate can be used to extinguish small grease or electrical fires by being thrown over the fire, as heating of sodium bicarbonate releases carbon dioxide. However, it should not be applied to fires in deep fryers; the sudden release of gas may cause the grease to splatter. Sodium bicarbonate is used in BC dry chemical fire extinguishers as an alternative to the more corrosive diammonium phosphate in ABC extinguishers. The alkaline nature of sodium bicarbonate makes it the only dry chemical agent, besides purple-k, that was used in large-scale fire suppression systems installed in commercial kitchens. Because it can act as an alkali, the agent has a mild saponification effect on hot grease, which forms a smothering, soapy foam.