A kitchen can be quite a dangerous place. Many of the ingredients and tolls you use on a daily basis can be very hazardous if not handled properly. In fact, kitchen fires are the leading cause of residential fires and related injuries. So what’s the culprit? You might be surprised at the most flammable ingredients and tools that are lurking in your kitchen. Learn how to protect yourself, your property, and your family from kitchen fires.
Most Flammable Items In Your Kitchen
Common Flammable Ingredients
Flour, sugar, oils, cooking alcohols, milk, and creamer all serve as base ingredients for several different dishes. Each ingredient is flammable in a different way and needs to be handled properly.
Powdered goods like flourconsist of fine particles that can easily burn if added to a hot pan without anything else in it. If flour spills into direct flame, it can ignite. Due to flour being a carbohydrate, flour is even more explosive when it is mixed with the air. d to mix with the air. When exposed to a spark or flame, the mix of flour and oxygen can cause explosions. In
fact, flour dust caused a Minnesota mill to explode in 1878. Similar explosions are reported every year.
Sugar is a carbohydrate much like flour, and it’s flammable for the exact same scientific reasons. When sugar gets hot enough, it can ignite. When cooking
sugar, keep close watch on it. If you’re cooking sugar by itself, pay special attention because it can ignite when it is not mixed with other ingredients. A great example of flammable sugar that we are all common with is marshmallows.
Cooking oils are highly flammable and can be hazardous if not used properly. Oils very on smoke and flash point and it’s key to know the difference between each one. A flashpoint is the temperature at which an oil creates flammable vapors that when exposed to heat can cause a fire. For most cooking oils, the flashpoint is 600° F.
A smoke point is when an oil becomes too hot and starts to smoke. In this case, you should immediately remove the oil from the heated surface. Peanut oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil all have a smoke point of 450°F. Other smoke points include 445°F for grapeseed oil, 435°F for canola oil, 390°F for sunflower oil, and 410°F for corn oil, olive oil, and sesame seed oil.
Marsala Wine Or Sherry
All alcohol-based cooking sauces like marsala or sherry are flammable because of the small amounts of alcohol they contain. They can have flammable vapors as well, so it is good to be cautious when using these around flame. Bottles should never be left near the store because if they get hot enough, the entire bottle could explode.
Non-Dairy Milk And Creamer
Non-dairy milk and creamer are often used as a substitute in dishes where milk and creamer are required. These ingredients often come in powder form and as such they have the same ignition properties as flour and sugar. Non-dairy creamer also contains sodium aluminosilicate which can burn when exposed to heat or fire.
Flammable Seasonings And Garnishes
Common seasonings such as garlic or cinnamon and garnishes such as orange shavings can catch fire under the right conditions.
Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde and eugenol. Aside from giving cinnamon its unique flavor and odor, these compounds are also flammable. Much like flour, cinnamon can cause an explosion if too much of it gets into the air and ignites.
Garlic contains a lot of oil, so it burns very quickly when exposed to heat or fire. This quick-burning effect can cause cooking oil to splash out of the pan and ignite on the burner. When cooking garlic, keep your heat low and cook it slowly to reduce the chance of splatter.
Orange shavings are a handy garnish. However, when squeezed they produce limonene, a flammable substance found in the rinds of oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits.
Is Meat Flammable?
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but meat can be highly flammable. Meat that has a high overall fat content releases grease as it cooks.
Grease fires are a common kitchen hazard that are resistant to water. High-fat meats include duck, bacon, and pork.
Turkey constitutes its own note due to cooking methods. Frying turkeys has become a very common method of preparation. However, improper cooking is very
dangerous. Dropping a frozen turkey into boiling oil can cause flames up to 10 feet high!
The National Fire Protection Association reported that every year deep fryer accidents are responsible for five deaths, 60 injuries, the
destruction of 900 homes, and more than $15-million in property damage. To fry a turkey safely, thaw it out, don’t use too much oil, don’t overheat your
oil (over 350 degrees), and always cook outside.
Snack foods can also be fire hazards. Snack chips are surprisingly a very good fuel source. Chips such as Doritos, Cheetos, and other common types all are
quite flammable. Chips like these are fatty foods and hydrocarbons, both of which burn readily. Microwave popcorn catching fire in the microwave is also
not unheard of.
Flammable Kitchen Equipment
Common kitchen equipment you use everyday can easily catch fire too. Many oven mitts are flame resistant, but not fireproof. A flame-resistant mitt can
resist heat better than a non-flame-resistant one, but it can still catch fire. Towels that you use for cleanup or wiping can easily catch fire. Also, wooden spoons should be kept away from heat sources or open flames as well.
Preventing Kitchen Fires
Many of the common ingredients and tools you use in the kitchen have a chance of catching fire if you don’t practice safe cooking techniques. Always pay
attention to your cooking, keep tools and ingredients in safe locations, and keep things organized. Most importantly, keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of emergencies.
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