How to Quickly Put Out a Grease Fire

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 25, 2024

It only takes a few seconds for hot oil or grease to flame up. 

Do you know how to safely put out a grease fire?

As Chicago’s largest fire restoration company, we have 15+ years of experience helping homeowners deal with the aftermath of kitchen fires. 

We want you to know what to do before it happens to you.

Safety Considerations

1. Turn Off the Heat

Before you do anything else, turn off the heat source and move the pan off the hot burner if you can safely do so. 

2. Know What Not to Put on a Grease Fire

Techniques that put out ordinary fires make grease fires worse. 

Much like electrical fires, these emergencies require special precautions. 

With that in mind, never use the following on a grease fire:

  • Water – Water on a grease fire vaporizes instantly, causing a steam explosion that spreads flames.
  • Flour – Flour on a grease fire fills the air with particles that ignite and burst into flames.
  • Baking Powder – Unlike baking soda, baking powder will ignite when thrown on a grease fire.
  • Dinnerware – Covering a grease fire with a plate can result in an explosion that turns ceramic into shrapnel.

3. Don’t try to Move the Pot

In addition to the tips above, never attempt to move the pot or pan outside since this puts you at risk of injury and can spread the fire to other areas of the house. Additionally, never add sugar or attempt to cover the fire with a wet or dry cloth, towel, or other flammable material. 

4. Call 911 if Needed

If you can’t put out the fire, don’t take any chances.

Flames in the kitchen can turn into a house fire in less than 30 seconds. Shout out an alarm to everyone inside, and follow these steps.

  • Evacuate – Leave the house immediately, closing doors behind you.
  • Call 911 – Wait until you’re in a safe location outside before calling 911.
  • Stay Put – Don’t reenter your home until firefighters give you the all-clear.

How to Put Out a Grease Fire: 4 Effective Ways

grease fire

Small grease fires can be extinguished in several ways. 

These methods are effective on grease fires in pans on the stovetop, but always be prepared to evacuate the kitchen just in case.

1. Cover with a Pan Lid 

After you’ve turned off the heat source, cover the pan with a snug-fitting lid. Avoid glass or ceramic pan lids since these can shatter in high temperatures. 

If possible, put the pan on the lid using a long wooden spoon or a pair of kitchen tongs since this prevents you from getting too close to the fire and risking injuries. If you can’t find a lid, you can use another pan to smother the fire. 

Be careful not to jolt the pan. Movement can splash hot oil or grease and spread the flames.

Safety Tip: Don’t use an oven mitt to place the lid over the pan because the mitt fabric can catch fire. 

This method works well on frying pans and larger pots. Slide a metal cookie sheet into place over the flames and leave it. Don’t touch the sheet again until it’s had time to cool down.

Safety Tip: After the cookie sheet cools down, remove it and check for signs of damage on the pan. Extremely high temperatures can have a negative impact on the chemicals in non-stick coatings and may cause the surface coating to flake off in small flecks. Because of this, we recommend replacing any non-stick pan that has caught fire or overheated. 

3. Douse with Baking Soda or Salt

Put out the fire by smothering the flames with as much baking soda or salt as you have on hand. 

As you do this, drop the substance directly on the fire since a sideways toss can cause flames to leap out of the pan and spread across the stovetop.

Safety Tip: When you’re cooking, make it a habit to keep a box of salt or baking soda within easy reach. Storing either one in an attractive container dresses up the countertop.

4. Use a Class K Fire Extinguisher

Put out the fire with a Class K grease fire extinguisher. While class B and multi-use fire extinguishers work on most kitchen fires, Class K extinguishers are formulated for safe use on combustible cooking liquids.

Don’t try to put out a grease fire with a Class A-only extinguisher because the formula within these units is water-based and will make the grease fire worse. 

Safety Tip: Keep the fire extinguisher within easy reach in a lower cabinet next to the stove. Don’t crowd it with pots and pans. Make sure everyone knows where it’s stored.

Putting Out Grease Fires in Specific Locations


Grease fires can easily ignite in gas and electric ovens. Stay calm. Leave the oven door closed. Opening it feeds oxygen to the flames inside and exposes you to intense heat. Wait for the fire to extinguish itself. If it spreads outside the oven, evacuate the house and call 911.


Cooking bacon in a microwave oven is a quick and convenient way to prepare breakfast. 

However, this time-saver can also ignite a grease fire inside the microwave. Don’t panic.

Leave the door closed, and unplug the microwave. This stops the fan from circulating oxygen that feeds the flames.

On the Grill

Grease fires aren’t confined to the kitchen. Backyard chefs need to be vigilant, too. If the grill flares up, turn off the fuel source immediately. Smother the fire with baking soda, salt, or sand, and close the lid. If the fire doesn’t go out in 30 seconds, use the extinguisher.

Near a Turkey Fryer

Deep-frying a turkey creates a fire hazard that doesn’t respond to covering or smothering. Always be ready with a Class K extinguisher.

How Does a Grease Fire Start?

Unlike protein fires, most grease or oil fires start when the liquid reaches its smoking point. 

That temperature varies depending on the type of oil used during the cooking process. 

In general, smoking points for most oils and animal fats range from 350 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Here’s a quick overview of when different cooking oils and fats start to smoke and catch fire:

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil350 degrees Fahrenheit 
Butter350 degrees Fahrenheit 
Lard370 degrees Fahrenheit 
Vegetable Oil400 degrees Fahrenheit 
Canola Oil400 degrees Fahrenheit 
Peanut Oil450 degrees Fahrenheit 
Safflower Oil450 degrees Fahrenheit 

Once the liquid overheats, it begins to smoke and quickly reaches a temperature that causes it to combust.

A grease fire can also ignite when hot oil in the pan spills onto the heat source. Even small grease splatters can create a fire by coming in contact with electric or gas burners.

Preventing Grease Fires

First, always keep a Class K fire extinguisher within easy reach. Make sure you and everyone in the house knows how to use the extinguisher in case of an emergency. 

In addition to keeping a fire extinguisher on hand, follow these simple tips for preventing grease fires:

  1. Stick with recommended oil temperatures by monitoring grease with a cooking thermometer.
  2. Don’t add frozen or wet foods to hot grease. 
  3. Avoid grease splatters by gently lowering food into the pan.
  4. Never leave the kitchen unattended. 
  5. Insist that kids follow fire safety rules by not playing near the stove while someone’s cooking.
  6. Keep flammables away from the heat source. These include wooden utensils, oven mitts, dish towels, and even the sleeves of your clothing.
  7. Keep the stovetop and oven clean. Wipe out burner drip pans and routinely check underneath them for missed spills and accumulated crumbs.
  8. Pay attention to the oil while you’re cooking. If it begins to darken or starts to boil, turn off the burner right away. Step back, but stay in the kitchen until the oil cools down.
  9. When hot oils begin to boil and smoke, a grease fire could be just seconds away. If you smell smoke or burning oil, don’t stop to investigate. Immediately turn off the stovetop or oven, and be careful not to move the pan.
  10. Keep a lid near the stovetop, even if you don’t need it – it may come in handy to smother a grease fire. Additionally, cook with a lid on your pots whenever possible. 
  11. Finally, develop a home fire safety plan. Practice evacuation with the family several times a year. Make adjustments as the children grow older or you change your home’s layout. Check smoke alarm batteries, and keep up with expiration dates on your fire extinguishers.

What to Do About Fire Damage

If you have fire damage after a grease fire in your kitchen, follow these tips:

  • Call your insurance company and get a claim number
  • Don’t throw away fire-damaged items until your insurance company tells you it’s okay to do so. If you throw items out prematurely, you may be tampering with evidence. 
  • Cleaning up after fire damage can be dangerous and difficult, so we recommend contacting a fire damage restoration contractor like ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba for additional assistance. 

Dealing with a Kitchen Fire Disaster in Chicago or the Suburbs? We Can Help!

servicemaster fire restoration vans

Cleaning up after a grease fire isn’t easy. It’s even harder when soot and smoke spread from the stove to other rooms in the house. 

ServiceMaster by Zaba specializes in kitchen fire damage cleanup for homes in Chicago and its Suburbs, and we handle commercial kitchen fire damage restoration too.

Stay safe while you’re cooking, and keep that extinguisher handy. We’re always here when you need us with a 24/7 response to your call: 773-647-1985.

Can a Grease Fire in My Condo Kitchen Affect My Neighbors?

Any type of fire in your condo can impact the neighbors. A grease fire doesn’t have to be large to generate smoke and odors that affect adjacent units.
As soon as you get the situation under control, contact the building manager, and explain what happened. Follow up by speaking with your with neighbors. They’ll appreciate your concern.

How Do Firefighters Put out Large Grease Fires?

Firefighters put out large grease fires using specially formulated extinguishing agents. Foam and wet chemical agents are typically their first choices for putting out grease fires.

How Can I Reduce the Risk of Bacon Grease Fires?

When you fry bacon on the stove top, cover the skillet with a splatter guard. This reduces the chance of grease droplets hitting the burner, and it makes cleanup easier too.
Try preparing small servings of bacon in a Dutch oven or air fryer. Both methods cook the bacon quickly at relatively low temperatures without generating excess grease.
Cook bacon in the oven on rimmed cookie sheets. This helps minimize the chances of bacon grease spilling and coming into contact with the hot oven interior.

How Long Do Home Fire Extinguishers Last?

A quality home fire extinguisher should last for 5 to 15 years. However, regular maintenance is a critical factor in making sure your home fire extinguisher stays in top condition. 

Can All Types of Cooking Oils Start Grease Fires?

Yes. It’s important to be familiar with their different flash points. For example, olive oil should never be heated higher than 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Canola, peanut and vegetable oils can tolerate temperatures of 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover the Damage from a Cooking Grease Fire?

Most homeowners insurance covers kitchen fires, including grease fires and fires resulting from unattended cooking. If you’re not sure about your policy’s details, speak with your agent. He or she may recommend updating or modifying your existing coverage for home fires.