I’m here to give you the straight-up truth about your Instant Pot: it can explode. But only if you messed up really bad.
Can an Instant Pot explode?
While Instant Pots generally do use extreme pressure to cook food, it’s very unlikely that they will ever explode. There are almost a dozen safety precautions built into the design that prevents Instant Pots from malfunctioning and causing harm. These safety precautions will ultimately end up shutting down the device if it senses any danger that may arise.
If in the rare case that every single one of these safety precautions fails to do their job, then it would be possible for an Instant Pot to explode given the right conditions.
If you are in my situation (5 years ago) where you were looking to see if an Instant Pot is right for you, but are too afraid to pull the trigger. Then hear me out and listen to what I’ve learned over the past several years.
What safety features does an Instant Pot have?
Most modern day pressure cookers are equipped with most of these available features including the Instant Pot:
- Automatic pressure control
- Safety valves
- Anti-blockage vent
- Lid close Detections
- Automatic temperature control
- Excess pressure protection
- Steam release handle
- Leakage protection
- High temperature warning
What are some common causes of Instant Pot explosions?
- Overfilling the Instant Pot: If you fill the Instant Pot beyond its recommended capacity, the pressure inside the pot can build up and cause an explosion.
- Using a damaged or faulty Instant Pot: If the Instant Pot is damaged or faulty, it can malfunction and cause an explosion.
- Using the wrong lid: It’s essential to use the correct lid when cooking with an Instant Pot. Using a lid that is not designed for the Instant Pot can cause an explosion.
- Not properly releasing pressure: Before opening the Instant Pot, you must release the pressure inside. Failure to do so can cause an explosion.
- Adding certain ingredients: Some ingredients can foam or expand during cooking, leading to increased pressure inside the Instant Pot, which can cause an explosion. Examples include rice, pasta, and beans.
- Clogged steam release valve: If the steam release valve is clogged, it can cause pressure to build up inside the Instant Pot, leading to an explosion.
Is an Instant Pot safe?
Generally speaking, Instant Pots are very safe.
The way an Instant Pot cooks is by building up a ton of pressure inside the chamber. This in combination with the heat provided ends up cooking your food in a fraction of the time it would take on a stove.
But why would someone be scared of an Instant Pot you say?
The answer is that this buildup of pressure needs to be released. The pressure inside can potentially force itself out of the Instant Pot causing an explosion.
Fortunately, however, the Instant Pots today are nothing like the Instant Pots of yesterday. There are several safety features built into the modern Instant Pots that help prevent and keep users safe.
How do you release the pressure from an Instant Pot?
There are two main methods to release pressure from an Instant Pot:
Natural Pressure Release (NPR)
After cooking is complete, the Instant Pot will automatically switch to a keep-warm mode.
In this mode, the pressure inside the pot gradually decreases over time. This process is called Natural Pressure Release (NPR).
You can also initiate NPR manually by turning off the Instant Pot and letting it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
Once the pressure is fully released, the float valve (the small metal pin) will drop, and you can open the lid.
Quick Pressure Release (QPR)
You can use Quick Pressure Release (QPR) to release pressure instantly.
To do this, carefully turn the steam release valve to the “venting” position using a long utensil or oven mitts to avoid burning yourself from the steam.
The steam will quickly escape, and the float valve will drop once all the pressure is released.
It’s important to note that when using QPR, the steam released is very hot, and it can cause burns, so it’s crucial to keep your face and hands away from the valve.
How to prevent any disaster from your Instant Pot
- The pot knows when the lid is still open.
- The pot knows when there’s a leak.
- The lid locks in when it senses pressure.
- The pot prevents anything from blocking the steam vent.
- It has automatic temperature control.
- It will warn you if the temperature is too high.
- It can automatically shut off when it reaches a threshold temperature.
- It can regulate the pressure inside.
- It even has a secondary pressure release mechanism.
Do regular pressure cookers explode?
Pressure cookers are generally safe to use if they can be brought up to 212°F in 30 minutes or less.
The pressure-cooker pots of the past had no protections against shut-downs while cooking, overheating under potential dangerous situations, or accidentally turning off during use.
Imagine putting a can of carbonated soda in your refrigerator. As soon as you open the door, the pressure causes the liquid to shoot into orbit and recoil violently against the walls of the container. The pull-top can quickly become damaged and could spill hot soda everywhere.
Pressure cookers work by increasing pressure to create boiling liquids at lower temperatures.
There are obviously tens of thousands of people who have used these older model pressure cookers without incident, but that doesn’t mean they can never happen.
What’s the difference between an Instant Pot and a pressure cooker?
There are actually 2 different kinds of pressure cookers.
Instant Pot is a pressure cooker that uses electricity as its heat source. It functions similarly to an old-school stovetop pressure cooker except it has the benefit of modern safety features like a programmable timer and automatic shutoff.
An Instant Pot is a pressure cooker that has the ability to brown, saute and slow cook. A traditional stovetop pressure cooker or electric model will only have one of these features at any given time (depending on what you’re cooking).
That’s why Instant Pots can be used for so many different things!
They are more expensive than your average crockpot-type models because there’s an additional element in play such as having electricity versus a gas/stovetop heat source.
But if it helps with meal prep, then this could make sense as well since it might produce fewer dishes needing to be washed afterward too.
We’ve had our Instant Pot pressure cooker now for about 5 years without incident.
One key difference between the Instant Pot and other modern pressure cookers is the inner pot.
The Instant Pots are usually made out of stainless steel, which has resistant properties against heat, while other brands typically contain an insert coated in a nonstick surface. Although these pans have a non-stick coating, the chance of them becoming damaged is still there.
The Instant Pot comes with features that other pressure cookers do not, like the ability to sauté and work like a Crock-Pot. The Instant Pot is a much safer option than other modern pressure cookers and also more versatile.
How to prevent your Instant Pot from exploding
There can be 100s of ways to incorrectly use an Instant Pot. However, the list below is some of the most common issues known when using an Instant Pot.
Don’t overfill your Instant Pot
Make sure you don’t put too much food into your Instant Pot. There’s a max line located inside your Instant Pot if you ever happen to need it. Just don’t go over this line.
Normally speaking, you should fill up your Instant Pot to about ⅔ of this line.
The reason is that food expands when cooking. Think about how rice gets bigger in a rice cooker. Giving them ample space to enlarge is a good safe practice.
When opening the Instant Pot, keep your head and hands clear of the opening
All Instant Pots have a steam release valve on the lid. This valve should stay cleaned and properly maintained at all times. Manufacturers will oftentimes give it a mechanical mechanism where if it is shifted on one side it is open and if it is moved to the other side then it is shut.
When you are done with your Instant Pot cooking, remember to make sure that all the pressure and steam have been released. This is usually automatic but it is something for you to look out for.
Don’t put your face directly in front of it. It is basically like the barrel of a gun.
It isn’t always a hot pile of steam rushing out of that nozzle, sometimes it can be warm and not dangerous. But it is always important that you don’t treat it lightly because when dealing with high heat and intense pressure, you don’t want to gamble with that.
Don’t open the lid until you release the pressure first
Have you ever tried to remove the lid of a pressurized container before the pressure has been released?
You get a loud bang, and the lid will most likely pop right off.
If you try to open the lid before you release the pressure, it is like putting a needle on a very large balloon. it will pop and all the confetti will come out. But instead of confetti, it’s more like steaming hot food.
If you ever find it difficult to remove the lid, don’t try to pry it open. There may be a reason why the lid is still tightly shut. Oftentimes this is a safety mechanism that is placed in by design so that the pressure doesn’t blow up.
Do not use your Instant Pot as a deep fryer
Simply put, these Instant Pots are not designed as deep fryers.
Avoid putting too much water into the Instant Pot
The typical rule here is to only put in between one to one and a half cups of liquid into your Instant Pot. make sure you account for the additional food that is in there. This should not go over the maximum line.
The sealing ring must be replaced every 2 years
There is a silicone ring that basically lines the outer edge of your lid.
it is one of the main components that help to seal the pressure into your Instant Pot. Tou will see it begin to wear and tear over time.
It’s recommended to replace this ring every two years to ensure that your pressure cooker is functioning properly and that there is no leak in steam or pressure coming out of the Instant Pot.
What should I do if my Instant Pot starts to overheat?
- Stop cooking immediately: Turn off the Instant Pot and unplug it from the power source to stop the cooking process and prevent further heating.
- Check the sealing ring: Make sure the sealing ring is properly in place and free from any damage or debris that may cause a poor seal.
- Check the float valve: Ensure that the float valve is not stuck in the “up” position, indicating that there is still pressure inside the pot.
- Check the steam release valve: Ensure that the steam release valve is not clogged, preventing steam from escaping the Instant Pot.
- Wait for it to cool: Let the Instant Pot cool down before attempting to open it. This can take several minutes or even up to an hour, depending on the amount of pressure and the contents inside.
- Contact the manufacturer: If you’re still experiencing issues with your Instant Pot overheating, contact the manufacturer’s customer service or support team for assistance. They can offer troubleshooting tips or suggest repairs or replacements if needed.
Can the Instant Pot stay on unsupervised?
A lot of people are convinced that you should never walk away from your Instant Pot. If you’re in the market for a pressure cooker, it’s important to understand what an electric pressure cooker can do and how it differs from other types of cooking methods.
Generally speaking, the short answer is no.
While Instant Pots can be incredibly safe and have several built-in safety features, it is not advised to leave your house for an extended period of time while your Instant Pot is on cooking your food.
There are a whole lot of things that can go wrong, and nothing is fail-proof no matter how many safety features are built into an electronic device.
However, if you have to leave your Instant Pot for a certain amount of time make sure you come back to it before 10 hours.
10 hours is actually the maximum amount of time that most instant cookers run in warm mode before it is completely shut off automatically by the system.
Will using an Instant Pot empty cause it to explode?
No, using an Instant Pot when it is empty will not cause it to explode. However, it’s not recommended to use the Instant Pot without any liquid or food inside it.
Instant Pot operates by creating steam pressure inside the pot, which cooks the food quickly and evenly. When there is no liquid or food inside the pot, no steam is produced, which can cause the pot to overheat and burn the bottom of the pot.
Also, using an Instant Pot without liquid can damage the heating element and mess up the safety features of the pot.
To prevent damage to your Instant Pot, always ensure that there is enough liquid or food inside the pot before cooking. Follow the instructions carefully to make sure that cooking with your Instant Pot is safe and works well.
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