SURVIVAL KITCHEN

How to Put Out a Grease Fire

A fire needs 3 things to burn. Heat, Oxygen, Fuel.

A fire will keep growing until one of those is removed.

Safest Way How to put out a grease fire

If a grease fire is burning in a pan:
Do Not Panic! You can do this…

REMOVE THE OXYGEN

Here’s how…

 
1. Put on Oven Mitts to protect your hands.

2a. Slide the pan’s lid across the top to smother the flames.

2b. Or, use a cookie sheet and Slide it over the top of the burning pan.

3. Shut off the burner to stop adding heat.

4. Leave the pan alone and don’t remove the lid until it has cooled completely.

 

Other ways How to put out a grease fire

how-to-put-out-a-grease-fire

Grease Fire Extinguisher

Use a class B or BC or ABC Fire Extinguisher.

Like this one, light weight and convenient for the kitchen:
First Alert Fire Extinguishing Aerosol Spray
Grease Fire Extinguisher

 
This ABC fire extinguisher is the classic and most popular on the market:

Kidde FA110 Multi Purpose Fire Extinguisher

Note: A Fire Extinguisher may release more pressure than you realize. So start at a distance away and move towards the fire, rather than up-close spraying directly on to the burning grease which could tip the pan and spread the fire.

Fire Blanket

A purpose designed 3×3 foot fire blanket. I wrote about the fire blanket ( here ).

Fire Blanket, 36 x 36-inch

Baking Soda

Carefully pour a good amount of baking soda onto the grease fire.

Damp Towel

Soak a towel under the faucet, wring out the excess dripping water, and drape over the burning grease pan to smother it. (This is very effective, quick and easy!)

Be sure the towel is not dripping wet! Only damp.
Pouring water on a grease fire will cause it to roar in flames!

 
 

Things NOT TO DO with a grease fire

DO NOT move or carry the pan outside, it will fan the flames and risk spreading.

DO NOT douse the grease fire with water, or milk, etc…
If you do, it will explode into a fireball.

DO NOT throw flour on to a grease fire because flour is combustible.

 

NBC TODAY Show: Kitchen Fire Safety

 

Example of water on a grease fire, Extinguished by using a wet towel

 
YOU DO HAVE A SMOKE ALARM, RIGHT?

More: Dual Sensor Smoke Alarm, and Why They Are The Best
More: Caution: Smoke Detectors Have A Shelf Life

More: Fire Extinguisher for a Kitchen Fire

 
( This article has been updated to reflect current products & procedures )

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51 Comments

  1. Wow, thank you. Not everyone knows these things. I learned something today about not using flour.

    1. Any powder such as flour, creamer and even baby powder is very flammable in dust form. Any “dust” touched by flame will ignite and can cause a flair up of flame and fire. Caution should be used around candles or any open flame wile applying powders. Chemistry 101.

      1. I also learned not to use flour from this article and have taken CHM 151 and 152. Both Baking Soda and the contents of a Chemical Fire-extinguisher are in a fine powder form, so it is a logical step to consider using another fine powder to smother the flames such as flour, baby powder, salt.

        Try not to be such a know it all. your comment would have been helpful if you didn’t make it sound like this is common sense.

        P.S. After looking on other websites, I found that flour can work to smother a SMALL grease fire. For example, it will work if a grease fire starts in the few table spoons oil required to cook some sausages in a pan, but it will cause a fireball if used on a container full of oil, such as a deep fryer. Rather than make a potentially disastrous judgement call on how much grease is too much, it would be safer to use the lid or a cookie sheet to put out the flames.

        1. I actually helped a neighbor put out a bad grease fire today. I can tell you that a LOT of flower, on a small grease fire (ie not much grease / fuel in the pan)will put it out. I ran to my house, grabbed a large, 2 pound container and instinctively dumped it in the pot. Near explosion! fire came rolling out and even caught onto the bucket I had. I ran back out, asked the neighbor and he had used a large amount of olive oil (which gets way hotter than vegetable oil). Thankfully, I had enough flower, and it eventually took out the main source of fuel. I went back in a few seconds later and used a damp beach towel and a frying pan. The Fire department said they would not have gotten there in time (in fact, the blinds on the kitchen window had melted!) He said flower does work, but you have to use MUCH more flower than fuel that is in the pot. As for me… I will be going and getting a fire extinguisher THIS WEEK to keep in my kitchen. $20 is cheap insurance people. Thankfully everyone is OK.

          1. fireball, I think you were lucky…

            running back/forth not the best with a fire.

            unless one has proper fire extinguisher, and sometimes even then, smother a grease fire. put a lid on pot. starve it of oxygen. etc.. Enough flour will starve it of oxygen, BUT, as you pour flour on, it “powders” and can burst into flames. etc.

  2. Just had my first grease fire while I was alone in my house with my 10-year-old. So scary! The fire extinguisher I always thought was under the sink was not there. I turned off the burner and the fire was still raging so I grabbed a kitchen towel and tried to move it outside making the fire bigger just like this article said. It scared me to the point I dropped the cast iron skillet on the wooden deck. My only saving grace was it had just finished raining, and fire started to subside. Again, big mistake, I threw some water on it. The grease spattered everywhere. It was just dumb luck it didn’t hit me. Once the fire stopped, I move the pan to a concrete paver, cleaned the grease off the deck with Simple Green, drank a lot of water because my throat is raw from smoke inhalation, and got on the internet to figure out what I should have done so I don’t make the same mistakes again.
    Thanks for the clear instructions and different options. My son & I read your article together so both of us know what to do if this ever happens again.

    1. You were lucky, Margaret! I’m glad you found the article as good reference for any future grease fire (which hopefully will never happen to you again) !

      1. had a grease fire myself, a good many yrs back. it was a very small frying pan, just a little grease to fry eggs… Thnk it was a very cheap pan, some kind of phony Teflon, and maybe that was the problem

        anyway, walked out of kitchen, picked something up, walked back in..THAT QUICK..full blown flames. poured a full box of baking soda on it, swear it got worse..Lucky I thought of (as suggested above), slide the lid on, and that smother it.

        I was pretty shook up, (this is thirty five/more yrs back), and was so rattled, I can still recal crazy thought going through my head..”If this doesn’t work, should I go to the store and buy more baking soda?”..as I say crazy..

        thankfully the lid worked, and the info stuck. Luckily never needed it again.

        1. Isn’t it absolutely amazing how grease can explode into a full-blown fire? A grease fire is the most dangerous when cooking with a gas stove (for obvious reasons – an open flame). While I personally prefer a gas stove for cooking, you’ve got to be careful about grease!

          1. Grease fire, …yes totally amazing… The LUCKY thing about my incident, I think, is throughout my primary/junior high, somehow the teachers often worked in, “Smother a Fire”…Frankly, it was nothing I had ever thought about, but when the baking soda didn’t work (which I had believed would smother it), the smother info stuck, and grabbed the lid.

            and, the experience stuck.

          2. It’s a good practice to keep a cookie sheet handy. If there is a fire in the oven, NEVER open the door. The cookie sheet bit will stop almost every fire in it’s tracks, but not for people who leave ranges unattended. I just ran to the store for a minute…

            I can see a future .gov mandate coming for a disconnecting means somewhere in the kitchen, but AWAY from the range.

  3. What if you make a solution with water and baking soda, would that work or would that just make it worse?

    1. No water. Water WILL make it worse. Best to slide the cover for the pan over the top to smother the oxygen. You could also quickly soak a towel with water (big enough to cover the pan), wring it out a little so it’s not dripping with water, and then carefully cover the pan with it to smother the oxygen. Never dump water in an grease fire or it will explode.

  4. Kevin,

    it is my understanding that water is never a good idea to put on a grease fire.

    further, I can tell you, from personal experience, that baking soda does not always put out a grease fire.

    however, the suggestion/instruction up above to slide the “fitted” lid on, is fool proof.

    of course, if you don’t have the lid/know where the lid is, remember the point of it all IS

    Deprive the fire of oxygen…it cannot burn without oxygen

    if no lid, slide on top of pot
    another pot which is bigger
    cookie sheet
    roasting pan
    etc.

  5. Thanks, and lol I just saw an episode of mythbusters pouring water on grease!! Wow I didn’t realize how bad putting water on hot oil was!! Very bad with lots of flames, yea not a good idea!!

    1. When I first saw similar videos, I was amazed. It’s literally like a bomb! It is instinctive for people to throw water on fire, but in this case, it would be disastrous!

      1. Putting water on a grease fire causes many tiny steam explosions, sending burning grease in every direction. It’s always a good idea to keep some kind of cover and oven mitts handy. An ounce of prevention.

  6. The oil in my pot caught fire, I put the lid on to smother the fire. It worked, but now I can’t get the lid off. How can I remove the lid or is the pot ruined?

    1. Linda
      something similar happened to me once

      did some version

      put it in freezer, then got lid off

      pour boiling water over bottom / sides of pot (theory is to make pot expand)

      can’t recall which worked, but one of those did

  7. will pouring talcum powder or shaving cream have any extinguishing impact on cooking oil fire ?

    1. Annet, No It will only make it worse. Some shaving creams have oil or alcohol in them. The talc won’t work either.
      As a “dumb” teenager, my best friend and I used the broiler, was the bottom drawer in the stove. She didn’t realize that her parents hadn’t cleaned it yet so we started a fire heating it up . She was freaking out and wanted to throw water on it. Told her NO and I dumped a whole brand new box of salt all over the broiler drawer. Made a mess but put the fire out. Her mom wasn’t too happy with us as we failed to clean up the mess (Salt was everywhere around the stove) but her parents praised me for not freaking out and using the salt instead of the water. Needless to say we were banned from using the stove for that summer LOL.

  8. I recently had grease spill on the bottom of the oven … I Was lucky enough to have quick access to yard and I grabbed 2 huge fists full of dirt and threw it on the fire and it smothered the flames.. Hey whatever works !!

    1. if one were to just close the oven door, wouldn’t the flames die off of lack of oxygen?

      1. I don’t think so because most ovens I have used (at least the ones with a stove on top) have a opening under one of the elemts. I’m guessing its for ventilation or something. You would have to somehow plug that hole. It still might work without it covered but I wouldn’t risk it.

  9. Hello guys,
    I just recently experienced a grease fire, I knew not to drag the pan away I thought really fast in the situation and ended up grabbing cat litter to put it out, probably not the safest and cleanest way to put it out but it did get the job done. The cat litter I used was plain and unscented.

    1. Maybe you just got lucky….Was it a clay based cat litter? If so, that MAY be why it worked. Non clay based litters are flammable.

      best if you can slap a lid on the pot/ maybe a cookie sheet which will lay flat..to smother the fire / deprive it of oxygen.

  10. In any case of grease fire, immediately call the fire department and yell fire! to warn other occupants to evacuate immediately. Use a fire blanket to cover the pan, turn off the heat and evacuate outside, shutting all doors behind you. Treat any injuries using a first aid kit and hosepipe to cool burns. Wait for the fire department to arrive. DO NOT REENTER TO BUILDING.

  11. Just read this article for the first time since Dendbo did a comment.

    #1 thing to do when fighting a grease fire or another fire, “Do Not Panic”.

    Evaluate the situation, remember the first thing is safety for you and your family (others). If the fire is already out of control, get EVERYONE to safety, a house and “stuff” is not worth your life. If the fire is still within the pan or fryer control the fire without moving it, as Ken has pointed out.

    Hopefully everyone seeing these comments will go back and read this article.

    NRP

  12. Make sure kids know that if they hear a smoke alarm they must immediately evacuate to a meeting place, crawling below smoke if necessary and to wait there

    1. Not just kids! This should be a rule for everyone! If you hear a smoke alarm or someone shouting fire just get out and call 911/999. If you have to escape a second storey window, consider an escape ladder. A meeting place is a good idea; do a head count treat any injuries here

      1. Here in the UK the advise is to just get out and call 999. And to only use a fire extinguisher to clear a path. It is probably the best idea. My 16 yr old was home alone and managed to burn some fish she was grilling. She was upstairs listening to music at the time but luckily he smoke alarms went off in time for her to evacuate and call the fire brigade. No fire just a lot of smoke to clear out but glad she didn’t try to use a fire extinguisher!

        1. glad she was okay…

          to my mind, if there was a lot of smoke, it may have had a fair bit of time to “smoke up”…

          in many ways, I think that smoke can be more hazardous than actual flames, as one can die from smoke inhalation.

          me, if I was in the kitchen and saw flames, I would slap a lid/pan on top to suffocate the flames.

          however, if I was out of the room/upstairs, I too think it would be best to get out if the room was filling with smoke.

  13. I had a grease fire recently…was very scary! Got all the kids out and got my eldest to call 911 whilst I whacked a fire blanket over it. House was very smoky so had to crawl to get out again!

  14. My parents have always taught us to evacuate straight away. A few years ago I came home from school and put some toast on, before going upstairs to change. Just as I was about to go back downstairs, the fire alarms went off so I went out of our fire escape ladder and called 911 from outside. The toaster had not popped up so be careful!

  15. A foam or wet chemical fire extinguisher is best for flight info a grease fire, but only if you know how to use them. Foam should be ‘snowed’ onto the fire or bounced off the wall behind the fire, rather than spraying it onto the fire. A wet chemical extinguisher, the best, should be applied from above the fire and you should apply the entire extinguisher to the fire. As always, cover the pan with a lid, turn off the heat, evacuate everyone from the home and call the fire department stating you have a house fire caused by cooking oil. Advise if any persons are still inside and if anyone, including yourself is injured. If anyone feels I’ll in the meantime, lay them down and treat for shock, raising the legs and keeping them warm and calm. Do not, under any circumstances re-enter the building.

  16. Don’t put a wet towel over it…

    Use a Fire Blanket!

    Make sure however that before using a fire blanket, you have evacuated the house and have either called the emergency services or someone else is doing so. After placing the fire blanket and turning off the heat, you should also close the kitchen door and evacuate outside in order to escape smoke inhalation. When the fire dept. arrives, direct them to the fire and explain the cause and any actions taken.

  17. This is a good article. We have a hot pad setting next to the stove that is big enough to cover any of our pots. We also have a fire extinguisher by the sink. remember to check your fire extinguishers and make sure they are in good working order.

  18. Good advice. I see my small fire extinguisher has expired. I do have a few large boxes of baking soda near my kitchen, but I see the First Alert Extinguisher is a good buy so I added it to my
    Amazon shopping cart. Thank you.

    1. I see the price of the First Alert has gone up by more than a dollar since Ken posted this. I imagine a lot of people (like me) saw the ad and bought the product. Supply and Demand

    2. Daisy,

      The problem with most ABC dry chem extinguishers is that the powder can settle into a lump and not discharge properly. Most firehouses make the new guy turn every dry chem extinguisher upside down, quite often, to make sure the powder is still free flowing. Probably a couple times a year is sufficient. Expiration date aside, if they are still pressurized and the powder is free flowing when inverted, then keep them around as backups.

      1. Another Cali,
        I just turned mine upside down and shook it. I think there are lumps, but I kept it upside down and will keep turning it and keep for a backup. Thanks

  19. Good article and posts. A couple of years back I replaced the two kitchen, one basement and one main floor extinguishers. Also added a kitchen fire blanket. Last week added an outdoor gas griddle one a deck, I need to get a second fire blanket and another extinguisher for the breezeway at the deck. Working on moving the grill, griddle and smoker (all are gas) to a stone cooking area away from the wood deck. The gas ring (lobsters, corn or turkey cooking) is already away from the house. Five or six years ago a house on our road was burned down due to a grill next to the house, never knew if the grill was defective or too close.

    1. Failed to mention in the above post (gee, there’s a surprise) that griddle cooking can get greasy, with a breeze day, potentially a bad formula, also adding a deck umbrella over the griddle in case of an unexpected shower, think I just made myself nervous.. The smoker has never been used on the deck, out in the yard since it runs for a long time and is a grease dripper dropping grease b o m b s into a crappy little pan. So, feeble attempt to link back to the topic of a grease fire.

    2. Probably too close. Most folks don’t realize the siding on their house is highly flammable. Once that catches fire it quickly moves up the side through the soffit and into the attic.

  20. Being with the lovely, but forgetful Mrs. Cali for 28 years,… I’ve got these things called “Stovetop Fire Stop” hanging like Christmas ornaments from the range hood, positioned over each burner. Thermal fuse lights a charge that blows fire retardant straight down. They work well.

    1. Another Cali;
      Had to chuckle at your comment a little, For I once had those hanging in my stove hood many years ago, untilled I was doing a nice “Flash Fire” stir-fry in a large Wok, oops,
      Dinner was eaten out that night :-)

  21. Good stuff. The best way is to get an multiple ABC extinguishers and strategically place them throughout the house. They are cheap and readily available at Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc…Use common sense, If the fire looks too big for you to handle, it is, and get out.

  22. If you throw flour onto the grease fire. Take your hand(s) and squeeze into a ball before you throw it onto the fire.

    1. jason are you trying to hurt someone with that bit of “advise?” First you cannot squeeze dry flour into a ball. Second flour as a powdery substance is Highly Flammable even almost explosive used as a “Fire Extinguisher”. Ever hear of dust explosions in grain silos??? Grain dust = flour + a spark and BOOM.

      Third and most important seconds COUNT in a fire. Fiddling around just gives it a chance to grow into REAL TROUBLE. Put a LID of that grease fire to smother it. Get that fire extinguisher ready if the lid doesn’t smother it AND DON’T lift that lid until it’s COLD or a new flash fire will erupt.

      The lid so far has worked for me three times. But I always have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

    2. jason:
      No.
      Enough said.
      For yhe rest of the world, DO NOT use flour to put out a grease fire.

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