Is Grease Flammable?

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Grease in a kitchen environment can not only be an eyesore, but also a potential fire hazard, which is why it’s important to always clean your surfaces thoroughly and ensure there is no build-up of grease in your cooking area.

However, there are different types of grease out there and not just the ones you’ll find in a culinary environment. There is also multi-purpose grease that can be used for automotive and industrial applications. 

You may want to prevent the possibility of a fire in your workplace or home by keeping the working temperature as low as possible, but one question begs to differ, is grease flammable?

We’ll be answering this burning question and more within this article. 

What Exactly Is Grease?

There are two types of grease as we briefly discussed in the introduction – one type is made up of either a mineral or synthetic material which is primarily used as a lubricant in automotive or industrial environments and often contains other ingredients that can make it more or less flammable.

The other type of grease is the one that is produced from cooking fatty foods such as bacon or butter and can be more prominent when cooled down and thickened on cooking pans.

Is Grease Flammable?

Synthetic or mineral grease is not considered to be flammable as it rarely has a flashpoint under 100°F which is the benchmark for material or substance to be considered flammable.

However, synthetic greases can contain additional ingredients like alcohol which will make them flammable, so it’s important to read the labels on the products that you do buy. 

However, typically synthetic grease will only be flammable when there is an open flame nearby that will cause it to ignite. 

Cooking grease is combustible and will burn when above working temperatures, however, it is not strictly considered to be flammable.

Although cooking grease does burn at temperatures that are higher than what is needed to be considered flammable and their flash points are easily achievable with the cooking temperatures necessary in a kitchen.

The flashpoint of cooking grease can be as low as 400°F, which means this temperature will need to be achieved for the grease to ignite. 

So whilst grease does not have a flashpoint of under 100°F which is what is required for something to be flammable, it is highly combustible and can become flammable once the right conditions have been achieved, which is easily done in a kitchen. 

How Do You Extinguish A Grease Fire?

Sometimes grease fires can easily happen by accident, especially within a commercial kitchen environment where chefs are required to multitask and cook numerous things at once.

A grease fire is not the same as other fires, so you cannot follow the same procedure that you would’ve elsewhere. 

A cooking grease fire is considered a class B fire and should be put out using a Class K fire extinguisher.

The steps you take to handling a kitchen grease fire will depend on its proximity. If the kitchen grease fire is small and limited to one area and you have the right equipment then you may be able to tackle it yourself.

Kitchen Fire

Tackling A Kitchen Grease Fire Yourself

  • Protect Yourself – If you’re not confident with handling the fire yourself, immediately call 911 and evacuate the building. If you’re willing to take the fire on yourself, wear oven mitts to protect your skin from being burned when trying to touch everything.
  • Turn The Heat Off – The heat will help the grease continue to burn, so turn the heat off on the stove/oven or even by the mains.
  • Cover With A Metal Lid – Fire needs oxygen to continue burning so cover up the grease that’s on fire with a metal lid to block off its oxygen supply and it should eventually go out
  • Extinguish The Fire – If you can’t find a metal lid, then you can try extinguishing the fire using a large quantity of baking soda (if the fire is small), or if the fire is slightly larger then you can use a class B or K fire extinguisher

If none of these steps works or the fire does not seem to be lessening, then get out of there ASAP and call 911.

What You Should Never Do In The Event Of A Kitchen Grease Fire

  • Don’t Move The Pot/Pan On Fire – Do not move the grease that’s on fire in the pan, not only could you burn yourself from the oil but you could also spread the fire to other areas of the kitchen
  • Never Use Water – Water and oil are not friends and using water to try to put out the fire will cause the water to splatter and spread the fire
  • Don’t Use Flour Or Sugar – Baking soda is the only dry bakiproductcts you should use to put out a grease fire. Using flour and sugar will only make the fire worse. 
  • Don’t Smother With Flammable Materials – Sometimes when you’re panicking over a fire, it can be an automatic response to want to chuck a dish towel or your oven mitts on top to smother the fire, but this will only cause them to ignite and possibly spread the fire. 

How To Prevent Grease Fires

  • Don’t Leave The Kitchen – Whenever you’re cooking with grease or oils, do not leave the kitchen as anything could happen within just seconds of you being gone
  • Clean Everything Thoroughly – Keep your stovetop and oven area, including some of the surfaces on either side clean before and throughout cooking to prevent grease fires
  • Keep A Lid Nearby – A metal lid can be the one thing that stops a little grease fire from turning into a big kitchen grease fire, so be sure to always have on in arms reach
  • Own A Fire Extinguisher – Have an appropriate grease fire extinguisher in your kitchen to help extinguish any fires that may occur
  • Know Your Oil/Grease – Take a look at the heat rating/flash point temperature of the grease/oil you are using so you don’t overheat it and cause a fire

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