Cooking Oil Fire – A safety video

17 11 2008

Asian cooking calls for a lot of frying in the kitchen especially here in Malaysia.  The Chinese love to deep fry their food using very high heat so as to deep fry the outside of, say a fish, while keeping it’s flesh  moist. How many times have you seen tongues of flame from the stove rise way way above the height of the cook in some of the restaurant you go to? The Malays and Indians fare no better with their long and deep frying methods. Surprisingly there are very few reported incidents of cooking oil fires.

Like all oils, various cooking oils have their own unique “self ignition temperature”. This is the temperature at which all materials self ignite and start to burn. And because the whole mass of this material has reached this temperature, the flames become rather intense. Most cooking oils self ignite between 310 and 370 degrees Celcius (590 – 698 degrees Farenhiet). when properly controlled, normal frying actually happens when the oils are at about 180 degrees Centigrade. However, it is when cooking is left unattended that the danger starts.

No matter what we use to fuel our stoves, be it wood, kerosene, liquid natural gas or electricity, it is the colour of the flame that determnes the flame temperature or element temperature as in the case of the electric stove. A dull red flame has a temperature of 550 degrees C while a yellowish red flame has a temperature of about 1000 degrees C. With these temperatures present, it would not take long to heat the oil to it’s self ignition point.

Now you might think, “Why did he go through a lengthy explanation to show how easily cooking oil can reach these dangerous temperatures?”. Well, how many of us actually know these temperatures? And more importantly, how many of us know the proper method of extinguishing a COOKING OIL FIRE ? Some of you might even have bought a fire extinguisher and taught your family members (especially Mom) how to use it. But in fact, a fire extinguisher is the last thing she should be pointing at the cooking oil fire. Because almost all types of fire extinguisher uses what we call a propellent to “propel” the extinguishant out of the nozzle, there is a great possibility of splashing the burning oil onto a wider area. Throwing water onto an oil fire does exactly the same.  Just watch this short but interesting video.

You’ll notice that the lady who narrates the whole video was herself a victim of such a fire. She could easily be a member of your own family. So for those of you who are watching this, please do show your loved ones this video or train them how to extinguish an ever present but necessary fire hazard present in all our homes. As you can see in the demonstration, all you need cloth soaked in water big enough to cover the wok or pan holding the burning oil.




2 responses

17 11 2008

woah. scary part at the end.

20 11 2008

“Good item Bones… You never hear much of the road death toll either

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