Drains and Plumbing

Kitchen Grease Fires Safety and Prevention

Meat grease can cause kitchen fires if it gets too hot. Like all oils, meat grease has a flash point, and cooking it on top of the stove or in the broiler can cause it to ignite once it reaches a certain temperature. Whenever you are cooking fatty meats, you should pay attention to the possibilities of splashes, spills, burns and fire. There are several steps you can take to prevent kitchen burns.
1. Keep small children and pets away from the stove or oven and out from underfoot in the kitchen
2. Always start with a dry pan! Even a little water will spatter if there's grease in the pan as well.
3. Make sure your pot holders and oven mitts are truly heat proof (many of the cheap ones are decorative but won't protect your hands). Keep them in easy reach of the stove (not in the drawer across the way).
4. Use wooden, not metal, spoons when stirring hot items.
5. Use a splash guard (a metal grid that fits over a pan) to keep hot grease from popping on you.
6. Make sure your roasts or frying meats are in pans or on boilers deep enough to hold the fats that will cook out. Otherwise, grease may pour into the oven or stove and catch fire.

Minimize the chances of getting burned by cooking at a lower temperature, and make sure you have pot holders and oven mitts within easy reach. The best way to handle a grease fire is to deprive it of oxygen. Without air, fire just goes out. Keep a lid near any meat you have frying: if the pan catches fire, quickly put the lid on to smother the flame. You can't put out a grease fire with water: the water will actually cause the grease fire to leap from one place to another! Keep a large, opened box of baking soda, salt or flour near the burner: either one of these substances can smother a flame. If there is a fire, pour on plenty of the dry good and keep pouring until the fire is smothered. It never hurts to have a fully charged, recently inspected, fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Make sure you know how to use it. (There's usually a pin to pull: after that, all you have to do is aim it at the fire).

Broilers can cause fires when grease pops up onto the heating element or if it catches fire on an open flame. Some cheap stoves may make the problem worse: inexpensive gaskets have been known to catch fire from a broiler flame. If the food itself has caught fire, it's pretty simple to deal with it: just shake salt, baking soda or flour onto the pan. If you can reach the control, turn off the broiler as soon as you realize there's a problem. If the oven itself is on fire, you can try shutting the door to put out the flame. If it's an electric stove, unplug it. If it's a gas stove, call the fire department. The important thing after any fore is to make sure there's nothing smoldering, so never be shy about calling the local fire department to check if you have a stove or oven fire, even if you've managed to put it out.

Many grease fires start when people are deep frying foods. Deep fat fryers are equipped with safety features that prevent the fats from overheating and catching fire, but stove top deep fat frying can be dangerous. Most foods that are deep fried are perfectly good (and healthier for you) if they are pan-fried instead, and pan-frying minimizes the risk of using fats.

Kitchen fires at home are often easily dealt with as long as you don't panic. Keeping lids available, using fire smothering substances and having an extinguisher nearby are good ideas, especially when cooking with fats.

If you are eating heart-smart or just don't like the idea of using animal fats to cook with, you can still dispose of them easily. Bacon grease and other fats from meats should be allowed to cool before being scraped into the trash. Get as much of the grease out of the pan as possible before washing it with very hot, soapy water. The heat will help the grease melt into the water and the detergent will "saponify" it, emulsifying it and keeping it liquid on its trip through the drain. Follow up the pan washing with plenty of hot water and detergent down the drain, and if you have a garbage disposal, run it with hot soapy water as well to keep the grease from building up on the blades and walls of the disposal.

Teach everyone in your family not to put things down the drain, and you'll have a much slighter chance of clogs. Treat your drains to a drink of microbial drain cleaner like Drainbo every week or two: it will help keep odor-causing bacteria out, and your drains fresh and clear.

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Natural Drain Cleaner for Clogged Drains

The first thing you need to know before working on a clogged drain is that the drain cleaners you see advertised on TV or on the supermarket shelves are made of dangerous chemicals that will eat through rubber gloves, skin, certain kinds of pipe, wood and anything else they touch. If their fumes are inhaled, they can cause damage to the lungs, nose and mouth. If they are eaten, they will kill, even in small amounts. Even when they are used "properly", they can ruin septic systems, pollute groundwater, and destroy pipes.

For a more healthy and safe alternative, try a natural drain cleaner, such as Drainbo, that is made from natually occuring bacteria that will fix a clogged drain, but won't hurt your drain pipes or the environment.

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