If you’re thinking about getting yourself a deep fryer, you might want to know what can go wrong.
It’s not just the oil that can catch fire—it’s also the frying pan, the lid, and of course, the electrical cord. If that sounds scary, it is! Here are five ways your deep fryer can explode and tips for avoiding them.
Can deep fryers explode?
Yes. Deep fryer explosions have been recorded, leaving many people with severe burns and bruises. Some of the reasons that this can happen may be improper use, poor maintenance, or 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.
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.
Ways to avoid having your deep fryer explode on you
- Read the instruction manual and follow safety guidelines: The manual provides important information on proper usage and safety measures.
- Check voltage and safety features: Make sure the voltage and power supply are suitable for the fryer, and ensure there is a safety cut-out switch and safety shield to prevent accidents.
- Use the correct oil and monitor oil temperature: Using the right oil with a high smoke point and monitoring the temperature can prevent oil breakdown and overheating.
- Avoid overfilling the fryer and make sure there is a safety shield: Overfilling can cause the hot oil to spill over, and a safety shield can prevent splatters and burns.
- Check the safety cut-out switch and the grease filter: These safety features can prevent overheating and fires caused by clogged filters.
- Have a fire-suppression system in place: In case of emergency, a fire-suppression system can help contain fires and prevent them from spreading.
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.
What NOT to do when your fryer is on fire
- 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.
How can I avoid an oil overflow in my deep fryer?
- Do not overfill the fryer with oil. Most deep fryers have a maximum fill line indicated, so make sure you do not exceed this line.
- Be aware that the oil level will rise when you add food to the fryer. To avoid overflowing, add food slowly and in small batches.
- Use a deep fryer that is the appropriate size for the amount of food you want to cook. If the fryer is too small for the food, it will cause the oil to overflow.
- Make sure that the food you are frying is not wet or frozen, as this can cause the oil to splatter and overflow.
- Use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature. If the temperature is too high, it can cause the oil to bubble and overflow.
- If you notice the oil starting to bubble and rise, turn off the heat and remove the food immediately. Allow the oil to cool down before adding more food.
What happens if you leave a deep fryer on overnight?
Leaving a deep fryer on overnight is extremely dangerous and can cause a fire. If a deep fryer is left on for an extended period, the oil in the fryer can overheat and catch fire. This can happen if the fryer is left unattended or if the thermostat malfunctions.
In addition to the risk of fire, leaving a deep fryer on overnight can also cause the oil to break down and become rancid. This can cause the oil to emit unpleasant odors and flavors and can make the food taste bad.
To avoid the risk of fire and ensure safe operation, it is important to always turn off the deep fryer when it is not in use and never leave it unattended. If you need to step away from the fryer, turn it off and remove the plug from the outlet.
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.