How to Put out a Grease Fire

Three Parts:Snuffing Out the FireWhat Not to DoPreventing Grease Fires

It takes just minutes for an unattended pot of oil left on the stove to catch fire. A grease fire happens when your cooking oil becomes too hot. When heating, oils first start to boil, then they'll start smoking, and then they'll catch on fire. Most vegetable oils have a smoking point around 450°F (232°C), while animal fats like lard or goose fat will start smoking around 375°F (191°C). If you have the unlucky fortune of dealing with a grease fire, here's what to do.

Part 1
Snuffing Out the Fire

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    Evaluate safety. The safety of you and your family is far more important than the safety of your house. If the fire is still small enough and contained in one pot, it is safe to put it out yourself. If it is already spreading to other parts of the kitchen, get everyone assembled outside and dial for emergency services. Do not place yourself in the way of harm.
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    Turn off the heat on the stove. This is your first priority, given that a grease fire needs heat to stay alive. Don't try to move the pot. You might accidentally splash yourself or your kitchen with burning oil.
    • If the grease fire is unruly or you feel like you have enough time, put on some oven mitts to cover susceptible skin. That way, any spattering grease isn't likely to hurt you if it does come in contact with your hands.
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    Put something on top of the pot to remove its oxygen source. Before doing this, if your clothing is flammable or dangling, remove it. The following items are suitable for placing over the pot:
    • Place the lid of the pot back on with an oven mitt. The easiest way to smother a grease fire is to cover it with a pan lid. With the lid on (and the heat off), the fire should quickly consume all the oxygen and put itself out. Do not use glass lids; they can break from the extreme heat of open flame.
    • Place a cookie sheet over the lid.
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    If the grease fire persists, throw baking soda onto it.[1] The baking soda cuts off the oxygen supply. Baking soda will put out small grease fires, but won't work as effectively on larger ones. It will take a large amount of baking soda to get the job done.
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    Use a chemical fire extinguisher on the grease fire. If you have a chemical fire extinguisher on hand, it's plenty fine to use it on your grease fire. Although it can contaminate your kitchen, it's a good idea if the extinguisher is the last line of defense between you and a burned down home.
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    Wait for the pot to cool and the fire to go out before touching. Call emergency services if you're too afraid to go near the fire or don't know what to do. Do not risk life and limb to save a kitchen.

Part 2
What Not to Do

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    Never throw water on the grease fire. This is the number one mistake many people make with a grease fire; it will only succeed in making things worse. Water and oil don't mix. In this case, their mixing will create a disaster.
    • Because water is heavier than oil, it immediately sinks to the bottom of the pan. (Water and oil are not soluble.) There, it becomes super heated and evaporates quickly; this evaporation expands rapidly, pushing and splattering the burning out in all directions.[2]
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    Don’t swat at a fire with a towel, apron, or other clothing. You’re likely to fan the flames and spread the fire. Don't place a wet towel over a grease fire to snuff out the oxygen, either.
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    Do not throw any other baking product on the fire, such as flour. Flour might look like baking soda, but it won't react the same. Only baking soda can help put out a grease fire.
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    Do not move the pot with the grease fire anywhere. Another common mistake people make is trying to move the pot with the grease fire over to another location, perhaps outside, where the fire isn't likely to do as much damage. This is a mistake. The act of carrying out the burning oil can cause it to spill, potentially burning you or any other flammable object it comes into contact with

Part 3
Preventing Grease Fires

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    Whenever you're heating oil or grease, stay in the kitchen. It pays to be aware. Most grease fires happen when someone steps out for a "moment" and completely forgets about the burner heating the oil to oblivion. Stay in the kitchen to avoid this fate. You should be able to smell the acrid grease before it lights up into a conflagration.
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    Use a heavy pot with a lid. Cooking with a lid both contains the grease and cuts it off from its would-be oxygen supply. Of course, a grease fire can erupt with the lid still on the pot, but it's less likely to happen.
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    Clip a thermometer to the side so you know the temperature of the oil. Keep an eye on the oil as it's heating. Again, if you see wisps of smoke or smell something acrid, immediately turn down the heat or remove the pot from the burner completely. The oil won't immediately catch fire once it starts smoking, but smoke is a danger sign that it's well on its way to getting there.


  • It's a really good idea to keep a fire blanket and a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. The fire extinguisher should be targeted at grease fires, or all-purpose.
  • If the fire is too big, be sure to call the local emergency center.
  • Spray the Pot with a Class B Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher - This is your last resort, as fire extinguishers will contaminate your kitchen. Still, it's better than the alternative if the fire is getting out of control. Use a Class K wet chemical fire extinguisher if it is available. Though more effective for extinguishing large grease fires, these are generally found only in commercial settings.Spray the fire with a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher. Use this method if it is your only option, because it will ruin food and contaminate kitchen dishes and utensils


  • Never use flour or milk or sugar on a grease fire either. Sugar and flour will catch fire.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Lid or fire blanket
  • Either baking soda or a fairly large amount of salt
  • Oven mitts (optional)
  • Class B Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Fire Emergencies