TIL that the fallback method of producing oxygen on the International Space Station involves burning canisters of alkali metals:

It's called chemical oxygen generation.

[The main system uses electrolysis - splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. But they still rely on fresh supplies from Earth.]

@jaybeanstalk Ah... makes sense. That's why you have to tug it then, to activate the reaction :)

Apparently they get used for fire fighters and divers as well, although with underwater there's a bit of a 'reacts violently with water' issue.

They did have a fire on the Mir space station caused by one of the canisters.

@jaybeanstalk I am sure you can, if you look in the right places (specialist equipment shop), but I doubt they're the kind of thing that gets shipped through the mail much.

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