Are you searching for the answer to the question Is olive oil flammable? If yes, then you are in the right article.
It is a common sight to see olive oil when you are in any household kitchen. While it has various uses and the users can get very creative with it, it is essential to understand its proper usage to ensure you and your family are safe.
In almost all cases, cooking with olive oil requires heating. However, is olive oil safe for high-heat cooking? This question raises another question: Is olive oil flammable?
It will interest you to know that olive oil is flammable. However, olive oil doesn’t catch fire so quickly, and you need not be afraid yet. For olive oil to ignite, it must have to reach its flashpoint. Even before getting to the flashpoint, olive oil in cooking will show some signs before catching fire.
What signs should you look out for when cooking with olive oil? What is the flashpoint of olive oil? Are there other heating points you should be aware of? Read on as we unveil the many truths surrounding the flammability of olive oil.
Olive Oil: An Overview
Let us start by saying something you already know: olive oil is a cooking oil. Conventionally, olive trees grow in the Mediterranean, such as Jordan, Spain, Turkey, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Greece etc. The oil is obtained from pressing the olive fruits obtained from the olive tree.
The Greeks, Italians, and Spanish often incorporate this oil in their cooking. Recently, the usage of olive oil in cooking has spread all over the world, notably in regional cooking schools.
Looking at what olive oil is chemically, we can say it is mostly fatty acid. While oleic acid is the most prominent of them, there are others. Also, along with the fatty acids are several chemicals that enhance its flavor
Is Olive Oil Flammable?
The outright answer to the question “is olive oil flammable?” Is Yes. Before you get scared and promise not to use olive oil again, you want to know that while the oil is flammable, it is not a combustible liquid. Therefore, olive oil will not self-ignite itself; it must get to a specific temperature to start burning.
While you don’t want to be unnecessarily scared, you want to be fully aware of what happens when you heat olive oil to its flashpoint and beyond.
As we go further, we will find out what the flashpoint means and other important terms.
As advice, always use your oven within the usage directives as instructed by the manufacturers. Also, make sure that when you fix them, they become faulty instead of using them like that. A fire extinguisher and a baking mat will provide you and your household more safety. Still, do not be in a hurry to remove your food from the oven; undercooked food is hazardous to the health.
Flammables vs. Combustibles
As earlier mentioned, both combustibles and flammables can burn. However, combustibles must be heated to a certain temperature to burn, while combustibles can ignite quickly once excited.
What Is The Smoke Point Of Olive Oil?
Before getting to the flashpoint of olive oil, we want to mention a term, smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature at which the olive oil is still safe. This temperature is usually below 410oF. Once the olive oil reaches this point, it is ready to catch fire.
At what Temperature does Olive Oil Catch Fire?
From the onset, we have been mentioning the term ‘flashpoint.’ The flashpoint of olive oil is the temperature at which it is expected to catch fire. At flashpoint or beyond, the olive oil will be in flames.
The specific temperature at which olive oil catches fire is the flashpoint, which is around 500 degrees. Around this temperature and beyond, the oil molecules begin to break down, causing more heat and smoke circulation.
While cooking olive oil in high heat, such as at temperatures above 400, is not advisable because of the risk of catching fire, cooking it in low heat can also cause it to char. Therefore, you must ensure you cook the oil at the right temperature.
Should Olive Oil Be Heated?
There is no doubt that olive oil provides some excellent health profits, especially when incorporated into a balanced meal. You will find olive oil in many kitchens for these and more reasons.
It is a common concept that the quality of food or ingredients drops when heated, and olive oil is no exception. Let us consider some reasons not to heat olive oil.
- Heating olive oil can lead to losing Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids and other valuable benefits. High temperatures can compromise the quality of these nutrients, particularly Omega fatty acids.
- Polyphenols, rich in antioxidants, contribute to various health aspects but can be diminished when olive oil is cooked over high heat.
- This reduction in nutritional benefits can be especially noticeable in high-quality extra virgin olive oil, which tends to be more expensive due to its delicate nutrient composition.
- When olive oil surpasses its smoking point during heating, it can release toxic smoke, potentially hazardous to human health. The low smoking point of olive oil increases the likelihood of emitting these fumes, which may go unnoticed but can have health implications.
- Some olive oil brands mix their products with cheaper oils like soybean or canola oil, a practice that might surprise consumers. This mixture can lead to unknowns about the composition of the oil and its behavior under various heat sources.
Choosing the Right Olive Oil to Prevent Fires
While extra virgin oil is a common olive oil, it is not the only type. There are different olive oil types with several flavors and smoke points.
The olive oil depends on what you would like to use it for. Below is a highlight of different olive oil types.
– Light: This olive oil doesn’t necessarily have reduced calories or fat. However, it’s recommended to avoid it, as it’s a blend of olive oil and other oils with an uncertain composition.
– Pure: Despite its name, it might not be entirely pure and is not as flavorful as virgin and extra virgin olive oils. It’s ideal for deep-frying, baking, and roasting. Pure olive oil is obtained from the olive’s second pressing or chemical extraction.
– Virgin: Virgin olive oil has a milder taste. It’s best suited for medium-heat pan-frying and sautéing and is created from the olive’s second pressing.
– Extra Virgin: Extra virgin olive oil boasts a robust and pleasing flavor. It’s an excellent choice for sautéing and gotten from the olive’s first cold press.
How to Put Out an Olive Oil Fire
If you have a fire in your kitchen and are unsure how to put it out, try pouring olive oil. Olive oil is great for putting out small fires because it has a low flash point (meaning it will combust at a lower temperature than other oils) and is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
When dealing with an olive oil fire, it’s best to follow established safety procedures:
- Protect everyone’s safety by getting them away from the fire.
- The next thing to do is shut the heat source, such as a stovetop burner.
- Use a blanket or dry towel to kill the flames. This can be effective for small fires.
- Use a fire extinguisher explicitly intended for kitchen fires or alert the emergency services if the fire is uncontrollable.
If the fire is spreading speedily, it’s crucial to prioritize your safety and that of others by leaving the area and requesting professional assistance. Using baking soda to kill the fire is another method that can work for minor oil fires, but again, using the right fire safety gear and techniques is the most effective and safest line of action.
Frequently Asked Questions – Is Olive Oil Flammable?
Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil Extra Flammable?
Extra virgin oil has a flashpoint of 325 degrees Fahrenheit, the least among different types of olive oils. At the temperature and beyond, extra virgin olive oil will catch fire and, thus, can be said to be flammable.
Is Burning Olive Oil Safe?
Kathy McManus, a reputable nutritionist, makes a valid point; burning olive oil can not only negatively impact the dish’s flavor but also destroy some of the healthy features, like antioxidants present in extra virgin olive oil.
What Happens if Olive Oil Is Heated Too Much?
Heat can lead to the degradation of nutrients in olive oil. Olive oil has polyphenols known for their antioxidant properties and heart-healthy benefits. If exposed to high heat, these polyphenols can begin to degrade.
Conclusion- Is Olive Oil Flammable?
Most cooking oils are flammable, and olive oil is not an exception. It’s crucial to avoid overheating olive oil above its smoke point, as excessive heat can cause its compounds to break down, thereby reducing its intended health benefits.
Furthermore, it’s important not to let olive oil reach a point where it smokes, as this indicates that it is reaching a hazardously flammable point and could potentially catch fire.
By adhering to these safety precautions, you can effectively use olive oil in your cooking without the risk of initiating kitchen fires, ensuring your family’s safety.