Deep fryers can make some of the tastiest, crunchiest foods you’ve ever had. Being that it can be found in millions of homes, there’s no doubt that deep fryers are extremely popular for the individual and family.
However, deep fryers work by heating oil to extremely high temperatures. The oil’s temperature can be as high as 375°F which is way more than even water that boils only at 202°F. For that reason, not properly using a deep fryer can lead to disastrous outcomes.
If you’re new to the deep-frying world, or even a deep-frying pro, you must be wondering if deep fryers explode.
The answer is yes. On several occasions, deep fryer explosions have been recorded. Some of the reasons that this can happen may be improper use, poor maintenance, and even negligence. But a lot of the current problems can be avoided if people understand the risks, take precautions, and learn how to use a deep fryer properly.
So what should you do? What can you do? Understanding the dangers of using a deep fryer is a good first step. Understanding why they are so dangerous is the key to safety.
Why are deep fryers dangerous?
Deep fryers work by heating up lots of oil to over several hundreds of degrees. Typical temperatures of oil can range from 350 to 375°F, but in some cases, it can go as high as 400°F!
Research from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission explains in detail how third-degree burns can be caused by an object heated to 150°F making contact with your skin for just 2 seconds.
Knowing that a deep fryer can push oil temperatures to over double that, can sound frightening. Just imagine what those wings go through.
You absolutely have to consider the dangers of using a deep fryer.
What causes deep fryers to explode?
Yes, it can. Deep fryers use either electricity or gas to heat up the oil. There are many reasons how and why a deep fryer would explode. Below is a list of some of the major possibilities.
- The oil getting too hot – This is what’s called a grease fire. It happens when cooking oil becomes way too hot. This oil will begin to boil, then smoke, and finally catch fire. Smoke becomes prevalent around 450°F.
- Oil falls on the burner – If even a small amount of hot cooking oil makes contact with the flame burning underneath the pot, an explosion of fire may erupt. Be very careful about how much oil you place into a pot. Take into considerations how much food you will be adding to the pot as to not overfill the oil. This is more common of an issue than most people are lead to imagine.
- Mixing in water or ice – Ever watched those YouTube videos where people throw a completely frozen chicken into a pot of boiling oil? It didn’t end well. Mixing water with hot oil causes a violent reaction you don’t want to be anywhere near. Water also has a tendency to evaporate much faster than oil so the steam coming from water might carry even hotter oil droplets with it through the air. Below, you’ll find a YouTube video on what firefighters call, Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion (B.L.E.V.E.).
How to prevent deep fryers from exploding
In order to prevent and make sure no one gets harmed from a deadly deep fryer incident, it’s always important to understand the risks. Understanding the risks and knowing how to use a deep fryer properly is vital to everyone’s safety.
Below is a list of tips that can help prevent deep fryers from exploding.
- Use large deep fryers outdoors – This is especially true if you are cooking for a large event or a group of people. Keep the fryer as far away from other flammable objects as possible. If being outdoors is not a possibility, make sure to place it in a space where fires can easily be contained.
- Don’t use a fryer in a closed place – Closed spaces and poorly ventilated spaces can trap air and further lead to possible fires in some conditions.
- Do not overfill the fryer – You may have to also consider what you’re putting into the hot oil. If it’s big enough, it can push oil out and overfill it.
- Always pay attention to the fryer – Keep your eyes on the fryer and be ready to shut it off if it begins to act erratically. If violent boiling starts to occur, you need to cut off the heat source as soon as possible.
- Use thermostat controls – The thermostat controls help you monitor the temperatures more accurately. If the temperature gets too hot (450°F or more), turn it off.
- Add only thawed or non-frozen food to be cooked – as stated above, water can react violently with hot oil.
How to protect yourself from a malfunctioned deep fryer
Protection during the use of a deep fryer is important. Even a drop of oil that pops from the surface of the deep fryer can cause a lot of damage to a person.
A few helpful pieces of advice to protecting yourself should be followed.
- Wear proper protection – This includes heat-resistant gloves, long sleeve shirt, long pants, shoes, and a face shield, or goggles in order to protect yourself from the splatter. Keep your skin, head, and eyes covered.
- Keep a fire extinguisher close by – At any moment, you might be called upon to use it. Be sure to read the instructions and learn how to use the extinguisher before starting to cook.
- Keep children and pets away – children and pets can sometimes unknowingly play around the area of an actively cooking keep fryer. Make sure to block off all access and keep an eye on the surroundings of the fryer. Even after you’ve finished cooking, the fryer and oil will still be hot for several hours.
- If a fire erupts, call 911 – If the fire extinguisher doesn’t work or if you can’t control the flame, call 911 immediately.
- Fry it outside – This is actually my own personal recommendation. Frying food should be done outside your home because of the closed space you are working in. If your home is greatly ventilated then sure, go for it. However, frying outside does help keep things clean.
What to do if your deep fryer catches fire and explodes
First of all, your main goal is the safety of you and everyone around you. If you have a gut feeling that this fire is beyond your control and the basic attempts explained in the following do not work, call 911.
Follow these steps in this order.
- Turn off the heat source – make sure that as you reach by to turn off the valve or switch, that you are protected. Mittens and gloves are useful in this case.
- Cover the fryer flame with a lid – fires need oxygen to exist. Closing the lid and removing the oxygen component should make the fire die out.
- Use the fire extinguisher – Now there are a few different fire extinguishers that work well in specific types of fires. What you want to use here is a class B dry chemical fire extinguisher.
- Call 911 – This step is for when nothing else works. The flame is completely out of control and has become too large to handle.
It is also very important to know what NOT to do.
- Do NOT use water – water will only cause the oil to splash and erupt even further.
- Do NOT try to move the fryer – you will probably get burned even if you are heavily gowned.
While deep fryers can help make some of the most delicious meals for families and groups of people, you must consider the dangers and pitfalls of improperly operating one.
It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with how to properly and safely operate a deep fryer no matter how big or small it may be. Know what you can put into a deep fryer and how you should be constantly monitoring it at all times.
Make sure you are fully prepared with the right tools and equipment to protect and defend against an unexpected fire.
Other than that, enjoy that crunch.