Updated on January 25, 2023
NM State University’s Fire Department has some advice for keeping your kitchen safe: Toasters, toaster ovens, and any other electrical equipment that can overheat can start fires, whether they’re powered by gas or electricity. When using your appliances, be careful to read and follow the directions.
How Long Does It Take for A Stove to Catch on Fire
In less than 30 seconds, smoke can become a blaze, so even a few seconds out of the room could be dangerous. In the kitchen, avoid wearing scarves, bathrobes, or loose-fitting shirts with long, loose sleeves.
Causes of Stove Fires
- Unattended cooking of food. Smoke can start a fire in less than 30 seconds, so even a few seconds out of the room could be harmful.
- In the kitchen, avoid wearing scarves, bathrobes, or loose-fitting shirts with long, loose sleeves.
- Making sure that combustible materials (such as oven mitts and drapes) are kept away from the stovetop.
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages before performing any type of cooking.
- Cooking while children play near the stove.
- Preparation when preoccupied or exhausted.
- Using hot grease to defrost frozen food before attempting to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Overheating the oil.
- Not keeping an eye on the oil temperature by using a thermometer to keep an eye on the oil temperature.
- Splatter can occur when food is added to heated oil too rapidly or carelessly.
Fires are more common on traditional coil element stoves than on induction, ceramic, or gas stoves because they are much hotter. While natural gas may produce an open flame with a temperature of approximately 1112 degrees Fahrenheit (600 degrees Celsius), they can achieve temperatures of over 700 degrees Fahrenheit (1292 degrees Celsius). Compared to induction cooktops, ceramic cooktops (smoothtops) have a lower maximum surface temperature of 932°F (500°C).
Cooking oils and other household materials commonly found in most kitchens can’t be ignited by these elements’ high temperatures. They will explode into flames if they are heated over their ignition temperature or if they come into contact with a hot object.
Here are the ignition temperatures for typical oils and household materials:
- Cooking oils (corn, olive, cotton seed, palm, peanut, soybean)
- Natural plant fibers (cotton, hemp, jute, linen, sisal, etc.)
- Natural protein fibers (wool, mohair, cashmere, camel hair, etc.)
- Various woods
How to Put out A Stovetop Fire
- Turn off the heat and put a lid or baking sheet over the blazing embers. Without oxygen, fire cannot exist. For at least 20 minutes, keep the cover on. The fire can re-ignite if the lid is removed too quickly.
- You can use baking soda or salt to put out tiny fires.
- Stop, down, and roll if your clothes catches fire (in a kitchen rug if possible).
- Fire extinguisher. Keeping a distance of 4 to 6 feet away from the blaze, aim your weapon at its base. There is a risk of the oil dripping onto the stove if you’re too close to the oil tank.
- Fires that spread beyond the stovetop should be extinguished. When you’re far enough away from the fire to be safe, phone 911 and ask for help.
What Not to Do
- Water will just spread a grease fire and increase the risk of a fireball.
- You don’t want to use a wet dish towel because it will push the flames out of the pan or pot and up the wall, making the situation even worse.
- Never substitute baking soda or salt with flour or powder. Lightweight and flammable, they are a better option.
- Smothering a fire with glass or plastic is a no-no. Plastic and glass will both melt if exposed to enough heat.
- Avoid moving or transporting the pot outside. You run the risk of splattering hot oil over yourself, your house, and everything else outside.
- When cooking, always keep a metal lid or cookie sheet close to the burner.
- Small fires can be put out using baking soda or salt, so be sure to have some on hand.
- You should keep one in the kitchen at all times.
- Reduce the number of false alarms in your kitchen by installing a working smoke detector at least 10 feet away from your stove.
- Keep the area surrounding the stove free of food and oil by wiping off the cooktop, the walls, and any other accessible surfaces.
- Avoid food spillage by turning pan handles inside while cooking.
- Solvents and flammable cleansers should not be kept next to the stove.
- Use the correct pot size for gas stovetops, and avoid letting the flames flare up around the pot.
- Gas stoves should not be used to boil over food. Fire or explosion could occur if the gas is still on and the flame goes out.
- After using a burner, immediately turn it off.
- Don’t let your stove’s pot run out of water.
- Keep children at least three feet away from the stove when cooking.
- Keep the oil at a temperature that is safe to use. Turn lower the heat immediately or remove the pot or pan completely off the stove, if you detect smoke or the oil stinks. This is an indication that the oil is about to ignite, and the smoke is a warning sign.
- The stove should never be used to heat the room.
What Happens if You Accidentally Leave the Electric Stove On
Nothing would happen if the burner was left on for 12 hours, in fact. The house would not catch on fire. However, the troubles occur if you leave anything ON or NEAR the burner. There is a good chance a fire could start if you left a skillet of grease-filled food unattended.