Bet you didn’t know that thing above your stove with the light and fan switches on it has a name. It’s your range hood. It serves a lot of purposes, believe it or not, and they are incredibly useful, especially if you do a lot of cooking.
Why Range Hoods Are Necessary
Meat searing, pan-frying, heavily spiced foods—if these are common occurrences in your kitchen, then a range hood will do you a lot of good. If you use a lot of oil, or you cook with intense heat, then you’re creating smoke. This kind of smoke will eventually go away, but it can take a while, and while it moseys on out, your kitchen is gaining a nice layer of grease. Think about steam: when it cools off, it reverts back into water. It’s essentially the same thing happening. You know that thick smell that covers your clothes after frying bacon? Yeah, that’s the grease smoke re-solidifying onto you. Sure, that smell is delicious, but it’s dirty. Range hoods not only help decrease the spread of grease, but it also helps keep the air you’re breathing clean—not to mention that it’ll deter your smoke and fire alarms from getting all worked up.
If you don’t already have a range hood, I’d suggest getting one. Some apartments and homes will have the ability to ventilate outside, but this isn’t always an option. Indoor ventilation hoods typically redistribute the smoke back into the home. While these aren’t the best, they are better than nothing. Many people don’t know that range hoods have a filter that requires changing. You could be more susceptible to having a grease fire if your don’t change it regularly. A dirty range hood filter is filled with the grease residue and other contaminants—meaning it is a perfect place for a grease fire to start. As long as you have a clean filter, you’ll be doing yourself, your furniture, appliances, and wood finishes a favor.
How Grease Fires Start and How to Put Them Out
Most cooking oils have a burning point of 450°, while most fats burn at 375°. You should never let your oils or fats get close to these temperatures, but that can be a hard thing to control, especially if you’re getting lost in the cooking itself. When fats and oils hit their burning point, they catch on fire. Unlike most fires, grease fires aren’t put out with water. The reason is this: oils and fats become liquid, so when you add more liquid (water) to the mix, it simply spreads the grease out, which in turn will spread the fire. Grease fires are dangerous but with the right know-how, they can be easily put out.
I keep a class B fire extinguisher under the sink at all times, just in case (class BC and ABC will also work). But if you don’t have an extinguisher handy, you should know how to handle a grease fire.
If you have a fire flare up, try to remain calm and follow these instructions.
- Put on oven mitts to avoid getting burnt and immediately turn off the burner. Do not try to move the pan; carrying it can cause grease to splash out.
- If you have any baking soda, throw some over the fire. Baking soda helps to kill the fire (DO NOT use flour or any other look-alikes).
- Find the appropriate lid for the pot or pan you’re cooking with and slide it over the top. Fire needs oxygen to breathe, and covering it will block any and all oxygen from the fire.
- If you don’t have a matching lid, soak a towel under the faucet and wring it out as much as you can while still keeping it damp, and then place it over the pot or pan. This will also block oxygen from getting in.
Got a question? Let us know in the comment section below.
Image Courtesy of StockImages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net