Can you put out a grease fire with water?

By Allstate

Last updated: February 2023

You should never put water on a grease fire, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

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What happens if you add water to a grease fire?

Even a small amount of water dropped into a pan or deep fryer filled with burning oil will sink to the bottom, become superheated and erupt. According to the Scientific American, the reason oils do not mix with water is related to their properties. Water molecules are polar, and oils are nonpolar. As a result, oils are repelled by water molecules.

What should you do if you have a grease fire?

All types of fires should be treated differently, and grease fires are among the most difficult to put out. Here are the four main tips to help you put out a grease fire, according to First Alert:

  • Evacuate and call 9-1-1. If the fire is growing quickly, your first priority is to evacuate your home safely. Once you're safe, call 9-1-1.
  • Turn off the heat source. Turn off the heat source immediately and keep the pot or pan that is on fire where it is.
  • Use a metal lid to cover the pot or pan. The grease fire will no longer be able to thrive and spread without oxygen. Once the heat source is turned off, find a metal lid that will cover the entire pot or pan. Let the pan cool for a long time and do not remove the lid because the fire could start again.
  • Use a fire extinguisher. An efficient way to put out a grease fire is to use a fire extinguisher. One should be stored on every level of the home, especially in the kitchen.

Tips for preventing grease fires in the kitchen

Here's what you can do in your own kitchen to greatly reduce the risk of having a fire, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on your cooking. Unattended cooking is the number one cause of cooking fires.
  • Wear short or close-fitting sleeves, as loose clothing can catch fire.
  • Watch children closely while cooking and when they're old enough, teach them to cook safely.
  • Prevent food and grease build-up by keeping cooking surfaces clean.
  • Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.
  • Store solvents and flammable cleaners away from heat sources.
  • Never keep gasoline in the house.
  • Turn pan handles inward to avoid spills.

According to the NFPA, cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and injuries, and frying contributes to many cooking fires. Be sure to always stay in the kitchen and pay attention to what's on the stove when you're cooking with oil. Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, Easter and Christmas Eve.

Would a fire be covered by insurance?

Homeowners insurance typically helps pay for repairs to your home, unattached structures on your property and your belongings if they are damaged by fire.