Abbotts Fire Safety Tips: Water Sparks Grease Fire Explosion

Stove top grease fire exploding in a kitchen

Even a little water added to a grease fire can result in explosive consequences.

Even a little water added to a grease fire can result in explosive consequences. 
A grease fire in the home kitchen is one mistake away from an explosion.

Even a small amount of water dropped into a pan or deep fryer filled with burning oil will sink to the bottom, be superheated and erupt into a rapidly expanding mushroom cloud of burning oil fumes. So the first and biggest fire safety tip for grease fires is the often-repeated addage: Never throw water on burning grease or oil in any situation.

Abbotts Fire Safety Tip 1 — Never throw water on burning grease or oil.

Perhaps even more dangerous and less well known is the amount of energy you can release by hastily throwing other substances on a grease fire, such as flour or sugar. One cup of sugar thrown in a pan of burning grease can release similar explosive energy to a stick or two of dynamite. We’ll say that again: a cup of sugar added to a grease fire is like throwing in a couple of sticks of dynamite! So our next fire safety tip for grease fires is: Never throw flour or sugar on a grease fire.

Abbotts Fire Safety Tip 2 — Never throw flour or sugar on burning grease or oil.

If you scour the Internet for grease fire tips, you’ll see plenty of lists that say throw baking soda or salt on a grease fire. Both substances can smother or remove heat from a small grease fire. But if the fire is small enough to smother with a box of baking soda or salt, it’s small enough to simply turn off the burner and smother with the pan or pot lid (metal only; glass can explode). So, rather than throwing anything into the burning liquid and risking its splashing and spreading the fire, our next fire safety tip for grease fires is: If the fire is small, simply turn off the burner and smother it with the pan or pot lid (metal only; glass can explode).

Abbotts Fire Safety Tip 3 — If the fire is small, simply turn off the burner and smother it with the pan or pot lid (metal only; glass can explode).

If a grease fire gets too big to simply smother, you should dial 911. As a last resort, you may want to consider a dry chemical fire extinguisher (Class K; available in hardware stores). If you use a chemical extinguisher, be aware that it will contaminate your kitchen and any exposed food. Also be sure to back off from the flames to avoid splashing the burning grease with the high-pressure stream of chemicals from the extinguisher.

Abbotts Fire Safety Tip 4 — If the fire is too big to smother, CALL 911 (use Class K chemical extinguisher as last resort).

If this or any other kind of fire gets out of control, call Abbotts when the danger is past, and we’ll help you get back to normal fast. We’re here for you anytime, any day, year around.

 

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