GasElectricDual FuelEnergy Star Certified
Main Content
How to Put Out a Grease Fire Safely Hero Image

How to Put Out a Grease Fire Safely

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, and ranges or cooktops are responsible for the vast majority of cooking fire deaths each year. While a grease fire can be a very scary and very serious emergency, with the proper steps you can safely put one out at home.
Grease Fire on Stove

What Causes a Grease Fire

A grease fire typically occurs when cooking oil becomes too hot, starts to smoke and then ignites. Most vegetable oils will catch fire at 450 degrees F, while animal fats catch fire at about 375 degrees F, and it doesn't take too long for them to reach these temperatures. Grease fires can start, and spread, very quickly. Here are some common reasons a fire could start in the kitchen:
  • The heat is raised too quickly on a stove top and the oil reaches too high a temperature.
  • Frozen food is thrown directly onto hot grease, causing it to smoke.
  • You're cooking a greasy dish that splatters within the oven and ignites a flame.
  • You've left your stove or oven unattended overnight, or even just for a moment.
Preventing a grease fire in the first place starts with careful cooking, but sometimes accidents are unavoidable for even the most cautious of home cooks.

Putting Out a Stove Top Grease Fire

Once a fire ignites in your kitchen, it's important to act fast, but not panic. If the fire has spread beyond the source area, leave the room, close the door behind you and immediately call 911 as you exit the house. If the source of the grease fire is on your gas stove, and is still contained, here are tips for how you can safely put it out.
  1. Turn off the heat and do not move the pan. If you can safely access the knob of your stove, turn off the heat as quickly as you can to prevent an added fire source over your cooktop. Do not move the source of the fire (the pot or pan) or swat your hands over the fire as the agitation and air will only make it worse, and possibly cause it to spread even more.
  2. Use a metal pot or baking sheet to cover the flames. Oxygen is fuel for a fire, and covering the flame should starve the fire of enough oxygen to put it out. Use only metal pots or pans to cover the flames. Glass could burst from the pressure, plastic will melt and fabrics will only spread the fire further. Keep the flames covered until the top pot or pan is cool to the touch.
    Baking Sheet
  3. Throw salt and baking soda over the flames. If depriving the fire of oxygen did not put the fire out, smother it with salt or baking soda. Use as much as you can find and drop it directly over the fire. You might be tempted to use other powdery substances you have on hand in the kitchen, like baking powder or flour, but do not use them as they could make the fire worse.

    Important Note: While it might feel intuitive to use water to douse flames, you should never, ever attempt to use water to put out a grease fire.
    Salt in bowl
  4. Use a fire extinguisher. If there are still flames after completing steps two and three, attempt to put the grease fire out with a fire extinguisher. Only use a Class B fire extinguisher or a Class K fire extinguisher, as these are the only options that are suitable for grease fires.
    Fire Extinguisher Next to Oven
    Use the PASS technique to safely extinguish the flames:
    • Pull the pin to break the seal.
    • Aim low, to the base of the fire.
    • Squeeze the handle to eject the extinguisher.
    • Sweep the extinguisher back and forth to reach all of the flames.
  5. Exit the house and call 911. Sometimes the flames are too aggressive, and even after following steps one through four, it's still not extinguished. If you've tried all of the above steps and the fire is still burning or smoking, it's best to exit the room, close the door and call 911. The dispatcher will be able to walk you through potential next steps while the firefighters are on their way.
    Phone with 911 dialed

Putting Out a Grease Fire in the Oven

Oven fires should be dealt with differently than stovetop fires. Grease or oil splatter can cause a flame to ignite inside your oven or broiler. If this happens, it's important you do not open the door to assess the fire. Instead, turn the heat off immediately and allow the enclosed space to starve the fire of oxygen.
Just like putting a cover over a candle, this should allow the fire to die out on its own. Simply keep an eye on the inside of the oven and wait for the flames to extinguish and the oven to cool down before cleaning.

Staying Safe

While experiencing a grease fire is certainly scary, it doesn't have to be a cause for panic. By taking steps to be prepared and remain calm, you'll be able to handle the situation with ease and put out the flames safely. Though, the first step in avoiding any kind of grease fire is by investing in a reliable and safe gas cooktop or stove.

Q&A Summary

How Do Grease Fires Start?

Grease fires start when cooking oil is heated past its smoke point and ignites. Whether you're cooking with high-smoke-point peanut oil or frying in classic butter, all cooking oils have a heat level that sets them ablaze. This can happen if you cook with too much oil that splatters within a lit oven, if oil is heated too quickly atop a range or if frozen ingredients hit hot grease and begin to smoke.

Is Vegetable Oil Flammable?

Yes, vegetable oil is flammable. There's a large spectrum of vegetable oils, from the low smoke point of vegetable shortening to the high smoke point of safflower oil, but all are flammable under the right circumstances. Be careful when cooking at high temperatures, like wok-cooking and deep-frying. These get your foods dangerously close to that smoke point (but are also incredibly delicious).

Why Can't You Throw Water On A Grease Fire?

Never use water on a grease fire. That will actually make it worse by creating a splash of burning grease, sending it in different directions and spreading it across the kitchen. Instead, turn off the heat and remove any access to oxygen by covering open flames with a metal pan or closing an oven door. Salt or baking soda can help smother, and a fire extinguisher will be the final nail in the coffin.