Coconut oil is probably the “hottest” (as in most popular) oil of the 21st century. Some people use coconut oil as a miracle cure for just about everything.
But is coconut oil flammable? To put it simply, yes coconut oil is flammable. All cooking oils are flammable, although the smoke point of each oil varies. Coconut oil is still safe to use. Just be aware of its smoke point, practice cooking safety, and prepare for contingencies.
Flammable simply means that it can be set on fire, and this characteristic alone doesn’t give us a lot of information. You will probably want to know if that makes coconut oil any safer or more useful.
But don’t worry! We’re going to answer all these questions and more in the following article.
Is Coconut Oil Flammable?
Yes, to be clear: coconut oil is flammable, as is olive oil, vegetable oil, and all other cooking oils. This does not mean we should be scared to cook with them.
It does mean we should exercise a degree of caution when cooking with oil. In fact, you should probably always be careful when cooking, especially where high heat or open flames are concerned.
If you’re sauteeing some vegetables or fruit in a non-stick pan over medium heat, there is very little to no chance your coconut oil will catch on fire.
If you start combining oils with various smoke points, leave your burner on high, or broil oil in your oven, you may be playing with fire, literally.
Coconut Oil Smoke Point
Refined coconut oil has a smoke point of 450 F (or 232 C). But unrefined virgin coconut oil has a much lower smoke point of only 350 F (or 177C).
The smoke point of an oil is the maximum temperature at which it can be cooked before it will start to smoke or burn. Heated oil will boil, smoke, and then burn. If left exposed to too high heat for too long, it can burst into flames.
If you mix oils, such as combine coconut oil with olive oil in a pot for deep frying, you alter the smoke points of both oils which can lead to smoking, burning, and flaming even faster. Check the smoke points of all oils you cook with, especially when substituting oils in recipes.
How to Put Out a Grease Fire
Cooking related fires are the #1 cause of home fires. So it is a very good practice to know how to put one out if a pot, pan, or oven should happen to ignite accidentally.
Grease fires start when cooking oil is left on a heat source long enough to spontaneously ignite. This usually happens when there’s a distraction and your food is left unattended. We all deal with distractions, so it’s best to prepare for any situation.
First of all, never try to extinguish a kitchen fire with water. Water will not put out a grease fire and it can even cause it to splash or spread.
If the fire is in a pot or pan you can cover it with a metal lid or cookie sheet– never plastic or anything that will melt.
Baking soda or salt will also put out a grease fire if it’s small enough to be manageable. Do not try to use anything other than baking soda or salt, because other cooking agents can make the fire worse.
Once the fire is safely contained, turn off the heat source as quickly as safely possible.
If you have a Class B fire extinguisher, you can use it on a grease fire. However, if you’re unsure of what kind of fire extinguisher you have, it’s best not to use it as the wrong extinguisher can make things worse.
If the fire is in your oven, turn off the heat immediately. Do not open the oven door as the air will allow the fire to grow. Leave your door closed and, if the fire is small, it will die out on its own.
If at any point the fire becomes unmanageable with simple, quick action-taking, immediately leave your home and call the fire department.
Using Coconut Oil For Its Flammable Characteristics
Fire is not always bad. Fire is one of the main reasons humans have survived for as long as we have. If you’re responsible, coconut oil should not strike fear in your heart.
In fact, it can be a very useful fuel source. If you love to camp or bbq, chances are you’ve come across firestarters at some point in your life. These can often be made with flammable substances that are questionable for their toxic load, at best.
Soaking cotton balls, cotton pads, or small bunches of cedar chips in melted coconut oil and then cooling them can create an extremely efficient fire starter. You’ll have to keep them cold as coconut oil will turn into a melty mess if warmed at all.
To be safe, start with a few chips or pads at a time, to be sure the fire doesn’t get away from you. Use general fire safety tips and practices whenever working with fires, whether outdoors or in the kitchen.
It’s safe to conclude that, not only is coconut oil flammable, but so are all cooking oils, including olive oil and vegetable oil. They all have different smoke points, though.
Coconut oil will also burn if you light it with a heat source and it will continue to burn for a very long time. It is an extremely efficient fuel source.
For safety’s sake, know how to contain a grease fire and always use caution when cooking – whether you’re using coconut oil or not.