Although the above video is mildly satisfying to watch, it can be a terrifying phenomenon to experience an active grease fire in your kitchen when frying food at home!
Sure, frying food at home can be exhilarating and add that special touch to your food that you don’t quite get when you order out.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, the number one cause of home fires and home injuries is cooking!
Let’s face it, frying food inside or around your home is dangerous, and if you’re like me, then you’ve probably succumbed to one of the following beginner pitfalls at some point:
- You use too much oil in your fryer.
- You don’t have a Class K fire extinguisher capable of putting out kitchen fires.
- You put wet or moist food in the fryer.
- You crowd your oil.
- You don’t have a fryer lid handy at all times.
You may be thinking to yourself that these measures seem a bit extreme. However, below I will explain why it is imperative that you up your safety game when frying foods at home!
Why It’s Risky to Ignore Kitchen Safety
Oftentimes, we get so wrapped up in the planning and execution of hosting parties and preparing for big game weekends that we forget to stop and evaluate our safety standards.
Sure, there are the obvious reasons to engage kitchen safety standards, such as preventing serious injury and death. These are the primary reasons why you need to up your kitchen safety game.
Additionally, there are the secondary risks you take when frying food at home.
Secondary Reasons to Engage Home Frying Kitchen Safety Standards
First, if you are frying inside, there are potential property damages you can incur when frying improperly.
Specifically, I’m not only referring to fire damage as a result of combusting oil, but also to the hazards associated with oily working surfaces and floors.
If you’ve overflowed your oil onto your range, counter top, and beyond like I have, then you gain a deep appreciation for having a work surface that is not saturated in peanut oil.
Plus, if you haven’t ever given your stove and/or oven a detailed cleaning, you’ll be interested to know that it’s despondently frustrating how many nooks and crannies oil can find its way into.
Second, even if you don’t burn the house down by mistake, you have a good chance of raising everyone who is present’s heart rate and distract from the reason you invited everyone over in the first place!
Nothing detracts from a big basketball or football game like fears that someone may light themselves or the house on fire! Not to mention the acrid, cloying smoke and associated smell with burning oil spewing all over your floor.
Lastly, you can imagine how difficult it is to host people for an event when your kitchen has to be cordoned off to avoid people slipping in the oil and tracking it all over your house as you attempt to clean it up!
Not only will your guests feel stressed out by your mistake, but it will also likely affect their comfort, since no one will be able to grab food or drinks from the quarantine zone.
So, now that you’re sufficiently scared, let’s move on to the first point, how much oil to use in your fryer!
How Much Oil to Use to Avoid an Overflow Crisis
Mainly, there are 3 ways you will fry your wings at home.
The 3 main ways people fry their wings at home are:
- Pan Fry
- Deep Fry
- Air Fry
The Simple Truth: How Much Oil to Use Pan Frying
Although you can use a number of pots and pans to pan fry, also known as shallow frying, the following principle remains the same no matter what you’re frying.
Submerge two-thirds of whatever you’re frying in oil, and leave one-third out of the oil.
Thereby, you are frying the bottom and the center of whatever it is you’re frying while letting the topside of your food cool down.
The benefit of pan frying your food is that you have much more control over heat and cook time, resulting in a more consistent fry throughout.
Plus, cleanup is much easier than deep frying, which typically results in large quantities of splattered oil all over your kitchen.
Simply use a pan cover, and make sure your food is patted dry beforehand, then you won’t have this problem.
However, if whatever vessel you plan to fry in does not have a reasonable amount of lip leftover based on how much oil you need to use referring back the the principle above, then you should either break your food down into smaller sizes, or find a bigger vessel.
The reason being, that if you don’t leave enough leeway for your oil to expand and contract through liquid displacement, then as you add food into your oil, two things will happen.
First, your oil will sputter and bubble because most foods have some liquid in or on them. Water and hot oil don’t mix well. As you can see below, they are quite dangerously reactive.
In all likelihood, this bubbling will cause a rolling boil, which, if your pan is overfull, will result in a terrifying and dangerous overflow of oil onto your stove top and kitchen counter.
Second, even if your food is not moist with Hydrogen Dioxide, if your pan is overfull, the addition of objects with volume into your liquid will result in a phenomenon known as fluid displacement.
Fluid displacement is when the level of the water rises because an object with volume is added into the liquid. Much like when you get into the bathtub, the water level goes up, and when you get out, it recedes.
Point being, if your oil level is too high, it could overflow, even if your food doesn’t cause it to boil and sputter through a chemical reaction between water and hot oil.
Hot Take: You Need Drastically Less Oil to Deep Fry Than You Think
Just as the title states, one of the biggest noob mistakes when deep frying for the first fewe times is putting way too much oil into the frying vessel.
I am guilty of this, and I’m sure you are too. After all, it’s natural to think that deep frying means that the oil level has to be, well, deep.
However, I want to dispel this notion. Since the only thing that has to happen with deep frying is for the food to be wholly submerged in oil.
As opposed to pan frying, deep frying relies on a deeper saturation of the oils into the food, resulting in a greasier end product.
However, the main principle for deep frying is as follow:
Use as much oil as will submerge your food wholly in oil, and not so much that your vessel risks overflowing when cooking.
If we borrow our two risks from above in the pan frying section, then we can deduce that the same risks apply here. The risks for both bubbling oil on contact with food and with fluid displacement can occur with deep frying.
Generally, you need a bigger vessel for frying oil. I recommend either an electric deep fryer or an enameled cast iron dutch oven for this task.
However, with so much volume to work with, we may get overzealous and empty our whole receptacle of peanut oil, or whatever fry oil you prefer, into the container at once.
I’m certainly guilty of this. But in this case, I will say that less is more.
Primarily because of the third major, yet typically not thought of, risk for deep frying oil.
The third risk for deep frying at home involves overestimating the volume of your container, thereby adding too much food in at once.
This causes an exponential reaction with risks number one and two, if you do not heed them.
Because you use a bigger vessel to deep fry, you have more volume to work with. You will likely assume, wrongfully, that you can be more efficient by frying more food at once!
See where I’m headed with this?
Potentially, you’ll overfill your vessel with oil, and put in too much food, which results in an abnormally large amount of bubbling and sputtering because the amount of water in the hot oil is drastically larger than otherwise.
Believe me when I say you, your friends and family, and all of your possessions are at risk when boiling hot oil spills out over your kitchen with active electrical outlets and possible fire sources nearby.
So, don’t overfill your large frying vessel, and don’t crowd it!
Air Frying, the Safer Frying Method
Although air frying results in a less satisfying meal than submerging food in oil, it has its pros
Mainly, air frying lessens all of the risks discussed prior.
Since air frying involves using much smaller quantities of oil heated up inside of a contained unit, you don’t risk overflowing your kitchen with gushing, boiling fat.
So, if you’re willing to risk flavor for safety and ease of cleanup, then air frying is for you!
Fire Suppression in Your Kitchen: Know it All
Unless you’ve dabbled in OSHA and/or EHS regulations I doubt you’ve put much thought into the type of fire extinguisher available in your home.
However, I’m here to tell you that this could well be the difference between life and death.
There are a number of types of fire extinguishers, which are used to combat the 5 common classes of fires.
The most common classes of fires are A, B, C, D, and K
Useful Tables on Fire Classifications and Fire Extinguisher Types
The Alarming Truth About Fire Extinguishers
If you reviewed the above tables, you may have realized that there are a number of different options for fire extinguishers, and that not all of them will fight all types of fires!
This news is alarming, considering that in many homes, including mine, that common fire extinguishers used only combat classes A, B, and C fire.
However, classes A, B , and C fires do not include oil fires! Figure that!
The major takeaway here is that if you want to be as safe as possible, then you’ll likely want to purchase a class K wet chemical fire extinguisher.
I know this is more of a quality of life thing, but who doesn’t want more peace of mind?
The Key to Carefree Frying
Want to know the key to carefree frying? The truth of the matter is, that it’s like the boyscout’s motto, “Always be prepared”.
Plus, when it comes to the life and safety of you, your family, friends, and all of your possessions, I should think the reasoning for following the best safety practices and standards speaks for itself.
If you know someone who does not follow the principles set here on this web page, share it with them
Simply sharing this document to one uninformed person could save their life, and that is reason enough.