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okay, I had a kitchen first tonight
Posted by Kristina on 22:22:39 1/2/2003:
I was preheating my skillet to sear my steaks and put the oil in and it caught on fire. I got a lid on it and put it out, but was very embarrassed. Steve went next door and got my mom's skillet, and all was well. I now have a bunch of bubbled up cure on the bottom of my pan and am going to take it to my grandma's and burn the rest of the cure off in her fireplace. I didn't freak out, in fact, I sort of stood there, and said "okay, that's on fire." Great first meal impression on my husband's business partner and his wife.
RE: okay, I had a kitchen first tonight
Posted by Al on 3:35:48 1/3/2003:
Ok ok ok - you've hit on one of my sore spots ...
When oil bursts into flames, believe it or not, it's not the OIL that's burning!
What happens is that you get the oil hot enough to smoke, and then it's the oil VAPOR in the smoke that burns. What probably happened was that you got a small spark, or a hot-spot on the pan that went to the flash point of the oil vapors.
As a matter of interest, have you recently gone to a gas stove from an electric? Gas stoves have that pretty constantly available source of ignition just below the pan, so you have to get used to watching oil smoke (and associated oil vapors) just a bit more carefully.
Once the fire starts, though, the heat from the combustion evaporates more of the oil, feeding the fire, which evaporates more oil, which feeds the fire, which evaporates more oil, etc.
Don't you just love these, "emerging patterns?"
To keep the fire going, you need heat, fuel and oxygen. To STOP the fire, you only have to remove ONE of the three!
Water does well on a LOT of types of fires, because it cuts off the oxygen and cools the combustible materials at the same time. That's why so many people throw water on an oil fire.
WATER IS not Not NOT GOOD ON OIL FIRES!
Oil floats on water, and hot oil even more so! Putting water on an oil fire just makes it spread out, still burning nicely, thank you! Also, since water boils vehemently at the burning temperature of oil, it will bubble and sizzle, throwing burning oil all over. All over the stove, all over the kitchen, all over Grandma's doily.
All over YOU. DON'T USE WATER ON KITCHEN FIRES!
My mother told me that, in The Old Days, people would throw FLOUR on an oil fire!
DO NOT DO THIS EITHER!
Flour is, itself, a combustible powder, so it heats to its flash point VERY easily, sometimes with disastrous results. It's called a "Fuel-Air Explosive," and even now, grain elevators will blow up, breaking windows miles away, because a bit of dry, powdered grain (flour) got caught in the gears of the elevator and got too hot.
Some people throw baking soda (baking SODA! NOT baking POWDER!) on an oil fire. I wouldn't do this, but it's at least a sound idea. Baking soda is not combustible, and when heated, produces a LOT of carbon dioxide gas, which is heaver than air, so it blankets the pan, cutting off the oxygen from the burning materials.
It'll blanket the kitchen, too, cutting the oxygen off from anyone in the kitchen, too, I think (no PROOF, you understand, just I think ...). BUT: I can think of lots and LOTS of things I'd rather be than unconscious, laying on a kitchen floor with a pan full of flash-point hot oil still on the stove!!
Five Point Plan of What To Do,
And it's NOT a matter of scale. A basic understanding of Murphology (The study of Murphy's (or Finagle's) Law... Postulate: The perversity of the universe tends to a maximum. First corollary: Anything that CAN go wrong WILL go wrong. Second corollary: Of a number of things that CAN go wrong, the one that WILL go wrong will be the one that will do the most damage.), as encapsulated in the previously-used, "Bad Things Happen™," demands that you be READY to do all this stuff, even if you don't HAVE to do all this stuff.
The tricks here are simple:
Second: All your stuff, no matter HOW precious, is just STUFF!! if you SURVIVE, you can always get MORE stuff, and any moneys not spent at the hospital for inhalation therapy, debreeding, skin grafts, physical and mental therapy, and long-term care will help you re-acquire stuff more rapidly. Get the people (and yes, pets count as people. At least in MY house they do.) to an exit.
Even that lace doily your Grandma made isn't worth the risk of having to learn how to walk through fire on short notice.
Last Edited: 08/27/2010