General Question

flo's avatar

What can cause hot food in the pan (on stove top) explode? See detail.

Asked by flo (13313points) May 28th, 2021
18 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

Whether it’s in the middle of cooking or just after, what can cause the food to end up all over the place but the pan, sending the cook to the hospital, with serious injury? What kind of food it be and could it not be?

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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Water explodes when added to hot oil.

Strauss's avatar

A pressure cooker with the lid not properly secured, or opened while contents are still under pressure.

janbb's avatar

Do you have a link for context? Is this a news story you read?

kneesox's avatar

I’ll bet it wasn’t broccoli.

RocketGuy's avatar

Microwaving food, esp. eggs and fatty meats, can cause them to explode. If the door is opened just before the explosion, the food will hit the person’s face. That could cause some injury.

Similarly, liquid water in hot oil will cause a big pop and hot oil will come flying out.

You can also get some excitement by freezing food in a glass “Corningware” container then baking it in the oven. Because recently made Corningware is ordinary lime glass instead of the original borosilicate glass, it has a high coefficient of thermal expansion. Any uneven heating will cause thermal strains in the container that will make it explode. That sends hot glass shards and food all over the place.

kneesox's avatar

@RocketGuy, you mean Corningware isn’t Corningware anymore? Is that even legal? If people trust it to behave in a certain way that it used to, and now it doesn’t, it seems like their Legal Dept would be pretty concerned.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Microwave water until it is Superheated !

smudges's avatar

My husband and I were awakened one night to what sounded like gunshots in the house. After grabbing a pipe that he kept under the bed, my husband slowly moved through the house, me huddled right behind. Imagine the laughter when we discovered that we had gone to bed forgetting that there were eggs boiling on the stove in their shells. The water had boiled away and the eggs exploded.

sorry's avatar

@smudges This happened to my mother and father. But it was canning jars. Someone had bumped the stove element under the metal tray the jars were sitting on. Boiling black current jam and glass shards EVERYWHERE!

LuckyGuy's avatar

Lemon juice poured onto a frying salmon filet.

Frozen food dropped into hot oil.
When I was a kid I worked at a Chicken Delight. They deep fried everything: chicken, ribs, shrimp, fries – and it was delicious!!! (Ad theme song: Don’t Cook tonight! Call Chicken Delight!)
Anyway, one of us figured out we could surprise our coworkers by dropping an ice cube into the hot oil and walking away. The ice cube melts and the water sinks to the bottom of the cooker and slowly spreads out as it warms, until…. virtually all of it reaches the boiling point at the same time and turns into steam which blurps up and sprays hot oil all around. We were lucky no one was ever hurt. Yikes!

ragingloli's avatar


RocketGuy's avatar

@kneesox – Corningware is a trademark name. The new owners can put it on any product they want. There is no legal requirement to use borosilicate glass, so they don’t use it (to save production cost). If you are nice to it, it will not explode.
My mom was cleaning out her kitchen cabinets, looking for old stuff to give away. I saw a “real” borosilicate glass Corningware casserole dish. I snagged that baby right up, and carefully wrapped it so I could safely fly home with it in my carry on.

kneesox's avatar

@RocketGuy, how can you tell which is which? I have some old Corningware. How does it look different from the new? Is the new stuff marked for composition?

flo's avatar

Thanks all.
It’s about stove top incidents by the way, those of you who responded about microwave, Your posts just as super usefull, even to people who don’t have/use micowaves.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (0points)
smudges's avatar

@sorry I’ve heard that’s a real danger when making preserves or whatever!

@LuckyGuy Lemon juice poured onto a frying salmon filet. Yeah, I do that several times a week. Have learned that 5–6 drops is better than a big squirt!

RocketGuy's avatar

@kneesox – when you look on-edge, “classic” Corningware looks clear/white. New “Corningware” looks green. There are no special markings, which I consider deceptive.

kneesox's avatar

@RocketGuy, thanks, I will definitely be on the lookout. I think you’re right about deceptive. Must be hard on the proud folks of Corning, NY.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Moisture inside the food can cause pressure to build as it turns to steam, if the food has skin, a coating, or other reason the steam won’t seep out gradually, it t will eventually cause enough pressure to explode. If it mingles with animal fat, the effect will be more powerful.

I like to cook fish and chicken with butter when it is done. I turn the heat on high, and pour in lemon juice. Within seconds there is a tasty crispiness coating the outside. That crackles, but it does not explode. The colder the lemon juice, the better it works.

Mmmm mmmmm!

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