Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works

What Happens When Water is Thrown on a Cooking Grease Fire?

When water is thrown into a pan of burning cooking grease, the water bursts into steam and throws the flaming grease all over the kitchen. Instead of throwing water onto burning grease to put out the fire, put a pan lid on the pan to extinguish the flames.

Putting water on a Grease Fire on the stove will flame-throw a ball of fire onto the cupboards above and the countertop all around the pan.
Putting water on a grease fire on the stove becomes a nightmare ball of fire.

By Douglas Krantz

Cooking is good; grease catching on fire while cooking is bad.

With all that sizzling crackle and pop, frying bacon sounds mouthwatering. But when there's a grease fire on the stove, and water is used to try and put it out, that same sizzle becomes a nightmare ball-of-fire.

Water on a Grease Fire

Burning grease is hot: hotter what's needed to fry bacon, hot enough to have burst into flame.

Throw water onto frying bacon, and grease splatters all over the place; throw water onto grease that's burning, and burning grease splatters all over the place.

Flame Thrower

Water on grease fire is bad. It's not like the water just sloshes the grease out of the pan, spreading the grease fire; the water, as it hits the burning grease, bursts into steam. It violently throws liquid fire (burning grease) in all directions, including straight up.

This is a ball of fire.

The burning grease lands everywhere, catching the cupboards and the counters on fire.

Instead of Dousing with Water

Think about it ahead of time. In the back of your mind, even before starting to cook, have an idea of what you'll do in case of a grease fire.
  1. Don't move the burning pan. If, while you're trying to move the fire, grease sloshes out, the sloshed out burning grease becomes another fire to take care of.
  2. Cover the pan using a lid that fits. Covering the pan at least cuts the oxygen to the fire and stops the flame.
  3. Turn off the heat; the pan is already too hot. It just makes sense to quit feeding the fire with more heat.
  4. Stand back and watch the stove. Let yourself cool down, and let the pan cool down.

You're Too Important

Keep in mind though, if you think there's any danger to you, or if, after putting a lid on the pan, the fire continues, get out of there and call the fire department. You're too important to risk getting burned.

Avoid the nightmare... Just don't throw water on that burning grease; don't use the water to splatter the grease and spread the fire.
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