It takes just minutes for an unattended pot of oil left on the stove to catch fire. An oil fire happens when your cooking oil becomes too hot. When heating, oils first start to boil, then they’ll start smoking, and then they’ll catch on fire. Most vegetable oils have a smoking point around 450°F (232°C), while animal fats like lard or goose fat will start smoking around 375°F (191°C). If you have the unlucky fortune of dealing with an oil fire, here’s what to do.
Evaluate safety. The safety of you and your family is far more important than the safety of your house. If the fire is still small enough and contained in one pot, it is safe to put it out yourself. If it is already spreading to other parts of the kitchen, get everyone assembled outside and dial for emergency services. Do not place yourself in the way of harm.
Turn off the heat on the stove. This is your first priority, given that a grease fire needs heat to stay alive. Don't try to move the pot. You might accidentally splash yourself or your kitchen with burning oil. If the grease fire is unruly or you feel like you have enough time, put on some oven mitts to cover susceptible skin. That way, any spattering grease isn't likely to hurt you if it does come in contact with your hands.
Put something on top of the pot to remove its oxygen source. Before doing this, if your clothing is flammable or dangling, remove it. The following items are suitable for placing over the pot: Place the lid of the pot back on with an oven mitt. The easiest way to smother a grease fire is to cover it with a pan lid. With the lid on (and the heat off), the fire should quickly consume all the oxygen and put itself out. Do not use glass lids; they can break from the extreme heat of open flame. Place a cookie sheet over the lid.
If the grease fire persists, throw baking soda onto it. The baking soda cuts off the oxygen supply. Baking soda will put out small grease fires, but won't work as effectively on larger ones. It will take a large amount of baking soda to get the job done.
Use a chemical fire extinguisher on the grease fire. If you have a chemical fire extinguisher on hand, it's plenty fine to use it on your grease fire. Although it can contaminate your kitchen, it's a good idea if the extinguisher is the last line of defense between you and a burned down home.
Wait for the pot to cool and the fire to go out before touching. Call emergency services if you're too afraid to go near the fire or don't know what to do. Do not risk life and limb to save a kitchen.