Don’t throw water at a grease fire; it’ll make it much worse

Throwing water at a grease fire is dangerous and can make the fire much worse due to the following reasons:

  1. Oil and Water Don’t Mix: Water and grease (oil) do not blend well together. When water is poured onto a grease fire, it sinks to the bottom of the pan where the hot oil is. As water is denser than oil, it causes the water to vaporize into steam instantly.
  2. Rapid Expansion of Steam: The conversion of water to steam happens extremely quickly, leading to a sudden expansion in volume. This expansion creates a violent burst of steam that can propel burning oil droplets and hot grease in all directions, spreading the fire further.
  3. Splattering Effect: The steam generated can cause the hot grease to splatter, potentially igniting nearby objects or people and causing additional fires.
  4. Cooling Effect is Short-Lived: While water initially absorbs some heat from the fire, the effect is short-lived. As the steam rises and dissipates, the water quickly evaporates, exposing the hot grease, reigniting the fire.
  5. Fire Triangle Disruption: To sustain a fire, three elements are needed: fuel (in this case, grease), oxygen, and heat. By throwing water on the grease fire, you introduce a fourth element, steam, which can disrupt the balance of the fire triangle and potentially lead to uncontrolled flames.

What to Do Instead:

If you encounter a grease fire, follow these steps to handle it safely:

  1. Turn off the Heat: Immediately turn off the heat source to the pan or stove.
  2. Cover with a Lid or Baking Sheet: If it is safe, cover the pan with a lid or a baking sheet. This action will help smother the flames by removing the oxygen supply.
  3. Use a Fire Extinguisher: If you have a Class B fire extinguisher rated for flammable liquids and gases, use it to extinguish the fire. Aim the extinguisher at the base of the flames.
  4. Baking Soda or Salt: If the fire is small and manageable, try using baking soda or salt to smother the flames.
  5. Evacuate and Call for Help: If the fire becomes uncontrollable, evacuate immediately and call the fire department for assistance.

Remember, never try to extinguish a grease fire with water. It’s essential to remain calm, act quickly, and use the appropriate methods to safely control and put out the fire.

More details

Oil and Water Don’t Mix

Oil and water do not mix. This property is due to the difference in their molecular structures.

Water is a polar molecule, meaning it has a slight positive charge at one end and a slight negative charge at the other. This polarity allows water molecules to attract each other and form hydrogen bonds, creating a cohesive and stable liquid.

On the other hand, oil is a nonpolar substance. It consists of molecules with no significant positive or negative charges. As a result, oil molecules do not form hydrogen bonds and do not have a strong attraction to water molecules.

When water and oil are combined, they will separate into distinct layers, with water at the bottom and oil floating on top. This property is the basis for various separation techniques, such as in cooking, where oil and water-based ingredients are kept separate while preparing certain dishes.

Due to the immiscibility of oil and water, it’s crucial to remember that water should never be used to extinguish fires involving oil-based substances, like grease fires. Instead, appropriate fire extinguishing agents, such as baking soda, salt, or a Class B fire extinguisher, are essential to handle such fires safely.