How Do Grease Fires Start?

The kitchen is the leading source of house fires and injuries, and about half of all home cooking fires are caused by grease, oil, or fat.

How Do Grease Fires Start?

A grease fire is caused when grease, fat, or oil on a burner, fryer, or oven becomes hot enough to ignite. If handled carelessly, grease fires burn incredibly hot and spread.

The fuel source (the grease) is a liquid that may easily spill and disperse, especially if water is put over it.

Grease fires can easily spread to cabinets and other flammable kitchen surfaces. Nearly 10 percent of home fires have caused significant property damage.

In this article, we will go through everything that you need to know about grease fires, including their main causes and how to put them out.

How Do Grease Fires Start?

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires in the home.

Oils and grease are highly combustible, meaning they may easily catch fire.

Different oils ignite at different temperatures (flashpoints), but every oil sold in grocery stores is capable of igniting if the temperature is high enough.

It is vital to detect the signs of overheating while cooking with oils. Boiling and smoke are indicators that it is time to lower the heat.

Once the oil begins to smoke, it might catch fire within 30 seconds.

How To Put Out The Fire

Never attempt to use water to put out a grease fire. Water intensifies grease fires.

Throwing water on this type of fire might cause combustible grease to spray, which could cause the fire to spread and endanger anything or anyone within its reach.

Moving a skillet or saucepan of burning oil is dangerous for the same reasons.

Call 911

Fires may quickly escalate out of control. If the grease fire is large or you are unsure of your ability to extinguish a little fire, call 911 immediately.

Do not wait until the fire is out of control before trying to put it out.

The operator may ask you a series of questions to assess the situation and will offer vital information to help you put out the fire yourself. If required, they can also dispatch firefighters to your home.

Remember that the fire department can always return to the station if the fire is extinguished before their arrival.

Turn off the stove

If a cooking pot catches fire, the first action is to remove the heat source. Turn off the stove, oven, or broiler.

If there's a grease fire in the oven, keep the door closed. This deprives the fire of oxygen, which helps to extinguish it.

Try Covering The Fire With A Lid

Try Covering The Fire With A Lid

The simplest way to deprive a grease fire of oxygen is to smother the flames with a baking sheet or pan lid.

Using tongs to latch the lid protects your arms and hands. Using a fabric oven mitt might result in injury.

Avoid using glass and ceramic pan covers. These substances can be broken by the strong heat of open flames.

Extinguish the Fire

You should never use water to extinguish a grease fire, since you may be tempted to carry a blazing pot to the sink and turn on the faucet.

Instead, you may use baking soda and salt to properly extinguish a small grease fire.

When heated, baking soda emits carbon dioxide, which can suffocate a fire.

The salt creates a barrier between the flames and the air. This prevents the fire from acquiring the oxygen it needs to grow.

Note, however, that substantial volumes of baking soda and/or salt are required to completely extinguish a grease fire.

Sometimes it is quicker and more effective to instantly obtain a lid and cover the fire.

While baking soda and salt are effective in extinguishing grease fires, other powdered components can aggravate the blaze.

Flour and baking powder are very combustible and can explode under extreme heat conditions. Do not use them (or any mixtures that include them) on a grease fire.

Use The Right Extinguisher

If you are unable to extinguish the fire using baking soda, salt, or a lid, then use a fire extinguisher.

Each type of fire extinguisher is designed for a certain type of fire. Every tank is designated for a specific sort of flame by a letter.

Extinguishers of Class K are perfect for extinguishing grease fires. These are popular wet chemical extinguishers found in commercial kitchens.

They are designed specifically for cooking fires and operate by producing a soapy foam on the surface of the fire that inhibits airflow which puts out the fire quickly and safely.

If you don’t have a Class K extinguisher, a Class B extinguisher (which utilizes dry chemicals) will work, though not as well.

Since grease is water-based, never use a Class A fire extinguisher on a grease fire.

Class A is acceptable if Class B is also included in a multipurpose fire extinguisher. For example, an ABC extinguisher would work well and would be safe to use on a kitchen fire.

If you do end up using a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, ensure that the residue is removed properly.


Kitchen fires may be scary and dangerous. Since half of all kitchen fires are grease fires, it is essential to know how to prevent and extinguish them.

If there is a grease fire in the kitchen, leave the pan in place and turn off the heat source.

Cover the pan, or apply baking soda and/or salt to keep air from reaching the fire. Never use water on a grease fire.

A Class K fire extinguisher should be kept in the kitchen. Ensure that you (and everyone in your home) understand how to use it correctly. A Class ABC extinguisher could be an acceptable alternative.

Dial 911 immediately if you do not know what to do or if the fire is out of control.

It is essential to keep your cooking area clear of flammable objects and to frequently inspect your equipment so it's clean from any grease buildup.