Cast iron skillets are practically the epitome of kitchenware. They’re durable, they can sear meat to perfection, and they can be passed down through generations as family heirlooms. But cast iron skillets can also catch fire! In fact, it’s more common than you might think, but that doesn’t mean it’s something to worry about—if you know what you’re doing (which we’ll get into below). Here’s why cast iron skillets catch fire and how to prevent it from happening in the future!
What causes cast iron catch fire in the first place?
There are three main factors that can lead to a cast iron skillet catching fire:
- Direct flame contact
- Oil scorching : When you turn the heat on, the cooking oil you’ve poured onto the pan gets hot, boils, smokes, and finally turns into a flame.
- And uneven heating.
The risk of fires when cooking with cast iron is almost non-existent when proper care is used. Direct flames should be kept away from a skillet at all times and oil should never be allowed to burn in it.
For starters, cast iron takes a long time to heat up—some can take 15 or 20 minutes. As it heats up, an unseasoned pan can actually get hotter than usual and start to emit smoke and flames.
Ultimately, cooking with cast iron requires a slow learning curve: First you learn how to properly season them , then you need to know how to heat and handle them correctly when cooking. With these tips in mind, they can last for generations without rusting or chipping like other pans do.
What to do when cast iron catch fire?
- Don’t move or touch your pan
- Turn off your stove and any nearby burner to prevent flames from jumping.
- Remove everyone from the kitchen, and open windows, if possible, to release heat and smoke from your kitchen
- DO NOT pour water on the burning grease. This will only cause the oil to splatter, spreading the fire rather than containing it.
- Take the frying pan outside only if absolutely necessary. The grease will splash, as will the fire. That’s not good.
- Cover the fire with a pan lid, but not a glass lid, as the heat may cause it to shatter.
- If you have enough baking soda on hand, you can use it to put out the fire. Another option is to place a damp but not wet towel over the flame. Wring out as much water as you can from your wet towel, as any water droplets will spread the fire.
- If your clothing catches fire by accident, roll on the floor immediately to extinguish it.
- Douse the fir with a dry chemical fire extinguisher if you have one.
- If the flames cannot be controlled, GET OUT and call emergency from your cell phone or a neighbor’s phone if you do not have access to one.
How can I prevent cast iron catching fire from happening ?
The main reason cast iron skillets catch fire is due to cooking on high heat. You should not cook with your cast iron skillet on high heat or over a flame or electric coil.
Cooking with water can also cause a buildup of steam in your skillet, which could lead to overheating and ignition of oil or fat.
You should let your cast iron cool down if you are going to pour out water into it after cooking.
A common misconception is that leaving water sitting in a hot pan will actually create steam and keep food moist, but boiling water rapidly evaporates and removing moisture from food will often leave it dry rather than moist.