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Sep 12, 2007 03:36 AM

Milk on a Grease Fire?

In the cooking class I teach, we've been going over safety in the kitchen. When we got to what to do if you have a grease fire, one of the students said, "throw milk on it!" Before I could admonish him, he claimed to learn this fact from another teacher who had been teaching this remedy for years...I'm of the belief that, next to water, it's the dummest thing you could toss on a grease fire, but maybe I'm wrong...After 20 minutes of searching the web, I haven't found a clear answer..Can someone please give me the straight dope?

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  1. I agree with you. It would be just as bad as using water and will spread the flames just as much. Sounds like another one of those silly or dangerous kitchen myths.

    You have to suffocate a grease fire by covering it with some non-flammable like a pot lid or a special fire extinguishing non-flammable blanket, or dumping baking soda or salt on it, or using a Class B fire extinguisher. Although there is some disagreement on fire extinguishers for grease fires because they can sometimes spread the fire. I saw that happen once and it took awhile for the extinguisher to put the fire out.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JMF

      didn't i hear somewhere that throwing flour on it makes it explode?
      milk is just as bad as water.

      a useful link for fire safety for all hounds: (and I was correct, NO FLOUR!)

      But his site gives bad info (says to use flour!:

      some extinguishers are made for kitchen fires. was the fire extinguisher you saw, jmf, a special one that would supposedly deal with grease fires? if so, that is worrisome.

      1. re: alkapal

        didn't i hear somewhere that throwing flour on it makes it explode?

        Yup! That is essentially what happens. Ever see a picture of the aftermath of a grain silo explosion? Bombs have doe less damage.

      2. re: JMF

        I used a "personal" Class B fire extinguisher on a grease fire one night a couple decades ago. It did the job but it was like holding a blunderbuss; the two-second blast was enough to blow the cast iron pot off the stove and send extinguishing powder throughout every corner of my apartment. Clean-up was a drag but I know it would've been a lot worse without it. I have two under my sink (currently) that I keep charged for such emergencies.

      3. I'm not a scientist and I don't play one on the internet but what is the big difference btwn water and milk? Milk is made up primarily of water, protein, fat and lactose. Water being nearly 90% of the total. What component would put out a grease fire?

        1 Reply
        1. re: KTinNYC

          I have no idea and think the same..which is why I'm totally disturbed that a fellow teacher would be teaching this "safety" tip.

        2. As they used to teach us in grade school, fire needs three items: fuel, oxygen, and temperature. theoretically, if you put enough water/milk on it, it will go out eventually, because water will cool down fuel so that it no longer burns. Thus, it would be extinguished.

          However, unless you have a tremendous constant deluge (i.e. an entire kitchen fitted with a sprinkler system), the water will almost certainly cause the fire to spread, which would expose it to more fuel. The temperature would not go down significantly, so the fire spreads.

          1. maybe he meant powdered milk. Enough of that would work. ;-)


            5 Replies
            1. re: evans

              I would think powdered milk would be only slightly less flammable than flour.

              1. re: Scrapironchef

                Powdered milk is much more flammable than flour because of the fat content. It is a better fuel than starch

              2. re: evans

                powdered milk makes pretty sparks when it burns I think its pretty combustable.
                Sprinkled almost empty package into the fire as a kid , it sparked . Betting its the fat.

                1. re: coastie

                  its actually because its such a fine particle. In fact, if you ever want to have fun camping, bring the biggest container of that fake, non-dairy creamer you can find and throw handfuls of it into the fire! A nice fire ball will be produced. Just about anything that has been refined into an extremely fine powder is combustable(think grain silo explosions). I would think powdered milk would work if you dump it on quickly. If it gets to atomized, it will burn/explode! as far as liquid milk, well thats just tasty, white water.......just as bad of an idea as water.

                  1. re: nkeane

                    i like the campfire fireball idea --as long as it is not in drought season.

              3. I should think the Fire Chief, or indeed any Fire Fighter in your town, would be the person to ask for proper information. The Internet is fraught with misinformation.