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How to Put Out a Grease Fire and Save Your Kitchen

Last Updated on July 15, 2020 by Diana Rodriguez-Zaba

You’re looking forward to fried mozzarella snacks or a crispy fried chicken dinner. Perhaps you’re sizzling breakfast bacon in the oven. The kitchen smells heavenly.

Suddenly, you’re in trouble.

It only takes a few seconds for hot oil or grease to flame up. Grease fires happen on stove tops, inside ovens and over backyard grills.

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

As Chicago’s largest fire restoration company, we have years of experience helping homeowners deal with the aftermath of grease fires. We want you to know what to do before it happens in your kitchen.

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 ranges from 350 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the liquid overheats, it begins to smoke and quickly reaches a temperature that causes it to combust.

Image: State Farm via Flickr / CC by S.A. 2.0

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.

How Do I Put Out a Grease Fire?

Small grease fires can be extinguished several ways. These four methods are effective on grease fires in pans on the stove top, but always be prepared to evacuate the kitchen just in case.

1. Use a Pan Lid

As you turn off the heat source, cover the pan with a snug-fitting lid. Be careful not to jolt the pan. Movement can splash hot oil or grease and spread the flames.

2. Cover With a Cookie Sheet

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.

3. Smother the Flames

Put out the fire by smothering the flames with baking soda or salt. Drop either one directly on the fire. A sideways toss can cause flames to leap out of the pan and spread across the stove top.

4. Use a Fire Extinguisher

fire extinguisher putting out grease fire in kitchen

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

What If I Can’t Extinguish the Fire?

If you have doubts about putting 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 Do I Put Out a Grease Fire in the Oven?

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.

How Do I Put Out a Grease Fire on the Grill?

grill fire

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.

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

What Should You Never Put on a Grease Fire?

Techniques that put out ordinary fires make grease fires worse. Much like electrical fires, these emergencies require special precautions. Never use any of 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.

How Can You Prevent 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. Follow these five 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. Avoid splatters by gently lowering food into the pan.
  3. Never leave the kitchen unattended. Insist that kids follow fire safety rules by not playing near the stove while someone’s cooking.
  4. Keep flammables away from the heat source. These include wooden utensils, oven mitts, dish towels and even the sleeves on your clothing.
  5. If you smell smoke or burning oil, don’t stop to investigate. Immediately turn off the stove top or oven, and be careful not to move the pan.

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.

Are You Facing Grease Fire Cleanup in Your Chicago, IL Home? 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 cleanup for homes in Chicago and 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