Oils have a smoke point and they have a flash point. If you’ve heated up oil to the point of smoking, it doesn’t take too much more additional heat to ignite into flames. If this happens in your kitchen, either on your stove top or in your oven, do you know what to do?
It’s good behavior to never walk away from your kitchen stove if you’re cooking with oil.
If your oil reaches the smoke point, it’s not only pretty much ruined, but it’s dangerous if you’re not paying attention – because it could lead to the flash point – the point at which little flames start dancing on the surface of the oil.
The flash point is bad enough, but if you reach the fire point – you are in for some trouble. This is the point (temperature) at which the vapors coming from the oil catch on fire. The fire is self-sustaining now.
Fire needs heat, oxygen and fuel to sustain itself. The oil is the fuel, and the oil had sufficient heat to catch fire. That leaves oxygen feeding the fire. We must remove the oxygen.
Stove Top Fire
Shut off the stove burner. If you see tiny flames (or worse) coming from the oil, no matter what type of stove you have (electric or gas) immediately shut off the heat source. The burner and the pan takes time to cool, so this isn’t enough to quickly extinguish the flame. If you’re able (small fire), slide the pan over to a cool burner (electric burners retain heat for awhile).
To put out the flame, you need to remove the oxygen source. Simply put a lid on the pan and the fire will choke itself out of oxygen. Note that a glass lid might shatter from the intense heat. A cookie sheet will work too. Do not remove the lid (which will only reintroduce oxygen). Let it sit for hours until it’s cool.
Shut off the oven. If oil and grease has spattered to the bottom of the oven and caught fire (perhaps more susceptible in a gas oven), you can smother the fire with baking soda, but be aware that you might need quite a bit. You might keep a big tub of baking soda in the front of a cabinet, so it’s readily accessible.
If the fire is small, you can cover the pan on a stove-top or use baking soda to smother the flames in an oven. However, a kitchen fire extinguisher rated for grease fires (Class B) should be kept within easy reach – ideally between the kitchen and your nearest exit. A dry chemical fire extinguisher, like this kitchen fire extinguisher can be used for grease, oil, electrical and flammable liquid fires.
NEVER Use Water On A Grease Or Oil Fire
Water will spread the fire and cause a rapid explosion of intensity.