The Product: Cold Fire
The Price: $19.99 (for 2) plus $11.98 shipping and handling
The Claims: Stops fires: instantly cools hot surfaces
Buy-O-Meter Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (4.5 if one can had not failed)
Cold Fire is a $19.99 fire suppressant that claims to be the "ultimate fire protection."
To review Cold Fire, I drove 70 miles to the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company in Maryland -- the closest fire department to my Northern Virginia home willing to backstop me while I set stuff on fire.
Cold Fire promises to stop small fires -- grease flareups and smoldering couches -- and instantly cool hot surfaces. It's a 13 1/2-ounce, pressurized blend of non-toxic plant and mineral extracts. It looks like a can of hairspray. No pins to pull or gauges to check: Just point and shoot.
So I drove to Joppa, where firefighters David Soler and Bryan Smith covered my flanks while I set a couple of blazes on their training grounds.
Test 1 - Cold Fire Fights Grease
I cooked up 2 pounds of bacon and ignited the grease-soaked pan to simulate a typical kitchen fire. Swoosh! Cold Fire can number 1 doused that puppy in a second, although the pan was still warm to the touch. No foamy mess, just some yellowish liquid residue that the Cold Fire people say is safe to drink. (Thank you, no.)
Test 2 - Cold Fire Meets Fabric
Pumped, we doused a fabric recliner with lighter fluid to test Cold Fire can number 2. Flames shot into the air. I pressed the nozzle. Nothing. I pressed again, and only some liquid Cold Fire trickled out.
Luckily, can one had enough remaining Cold Fire to put out the chair fire.
Post-game wrap up
My firefighters, Dave and Bryan, say Cold Fire packs a surprising wallop for a 10-inch can. All extinguishers can lose pressure, they say, so make sure you have a backup plan -- they suggested having 3 or 4 cans of Cold Fire on hand.
Of course, call 911 for any fire you can't quickly and obviously extinguish.
I, on the other hand, was rattled and disappointed. Who can rely on an extinguisher that is -- at least in my tests -- unreliable?
Firefreeze, the New Jersey company that makes Cold Fire, said my dud was a fluke. To prove it, the company sent me a sealed case of Cold Fire to try, and all 12 cans worked well. (You can order from Firefreeze's site.)
Bottom line on Cold Fire?
If it's good enough for firefighters -- at least the two kind enough to help me -- it's good enough for me.
Just remember to test your Cold Fire when it arrives -- give a little spritz -- to make sure this extinguisher-in-a-can works. With a little luck, Cold Fire is one As Seen on TV product you'll never need to use.
Cold Fire Review: Works Great ... Most of the Time