Welcome back to Air Fryer Bro, we appreciate you coming back to read yet another “bro” article! As air fryers are so new, there is this concern around the fact that they are in some way unsafe or have the potential to blow up! Well, maybe not blow up, but you get the idea!! So, today we will look at the questions such as “Is my air fryer safe? Will my air fryer catch on fire? Is it a fire risk!!??”
The short answer is no! Although there have been occasional reports of air fryers catching on fire, this is not the norm for air fryers. With proper use, you should not experience an air fryer catching on fire. Other than user error, the only way is if your air fryer has been shipped with a fault from the manufacturer. The alternative is a vat of hot oil, which is a much more hazardous proposition.
Before we get into the full and detailed answer, we will be giving a little background to air fryers.
Remember life before you bought your first air fryer? When you had to juggle between using instant pots and slow cookers to cook till you had kitchen appliance fatigue? And the excitement you felt when you placed an order for an air fryer online? Few things can match the happiness you felt when you discovered a kitchen appliance that seemed like a miracle worker.
You finally thought to yourself that cooking lunch or dinner was going to be a breeze. No more visits to McDonald’s or wasting money on home-delivered French fries and chicken wings from fast food outlets. Then you unboxed your new baby, and…you were excited, but at the same time worried. For some people air fryer technology is almost like alien technology! And this is what may have let to some people thinking air fryers may be fire hazards!
What’s The Deal With Air Fryers?
For the uninitiated, air fryers are one of the hottest counter top kitchen appliances currently on the market. As the Air Fryer Bro, I can confidently term air fryers as one of the world’s greatest inventions!!! Since 2010 when Phillips Electronics unveiled the first air fryer, dozens of brands have flooded the market. The reputable multinational tech corporation coined the air fryer catchphrase “air is the new oil.”
But this didn’t capture our attention until celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Emeril Lagasse started talking about them. More and more people, especially those concerned about their health, are now appreciating the fantastic health benefits of cooking with air fryers.
These almost effortless kitchen gadgets come in various models and price ranges. Remember that time as a kid when you couldn’t keep your hands off French fries, and your folks warned you about the dangers of overeating fries? Well, an air fryer will allow you to cook your favorite crispy, crunchy, golden yellow treats (a trademark of traditionally deep-fried foods) with way less cooking oil than you’re used to, in a matter of minutes. And there’s little to no compromising on the taste.
Reasons Why We Do Air Frying?
The cruel fact of life is that fried food tastes good. There’s a growing concern that ingesting too much fat into our bodies can result in all kinds of health problems such as high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease, and even cancer. In our quest to cut fats, somehow we still want to maintain the same taste and quality of fried foods.
Thanks to the recent arrival of air fryers, you can cook healthier versions of the usual suspects – French fries, potato chips, chicken nuggets, etc. And you can use them for cooking a range of other non-fried foods like cakes, roasted garlic, bacon, pizza, Brussel sprouts and toasted nuts. You can even add your own spices and herbs to shake things up.
Cooking Crispy ‘Fried’ Food Using Hot Air
The concept behind this multifaceted kitchen appliance is nothing new. Air fryers work by speedily circulating sweltering air around foods with a small coat of oil until it’s cooked through. Imagine 70-80 percent less fat than traditional deep frying, sounds cool, right?
Air fryers are also less hazardous than a pot of viciously bubbling hot cooking oil that can easily catch fire, or spatter and burn. Oh, and did I mention that with an air fryer, you no longer have to deal with disposing or recycling smelly, used cooking oil once you’re done with cooking? We could go all day discussing the benefits of air fryers, but that’s not what this article is about. Today we are focusing on the safety of air fryers.
Are Air Fryers Dangerous?
An air fryer can be an amazing appliance if you use it appropriately and see its full potential. Apart from cooking delicious and healthy meals, air fryers can also lead to major problems if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Misusing air fryers can pose a threat to you and your loved ones. You need to familiarize yourself with potential safety and health hazards. Earlier this year, an air fryer started a fire that severely damaged a 2-story home in Crestview, Florida. But this is not specific to air fryers, a wide variety of household electrical items could cause a fire if misused.
Air fryers are, however, much safer than traditional deep frying. It is worth mentioning that though some concerns are relevant, others are totally irrelevant. Do not believe everything you see or hear; some could be fake news.
The video below has been circulating on YouTube for a while now, and the title is talking about a Power XL air fryer being a potential fire hazard. Put plainly and simply, I would take a guess that this guy either got a faulty unit or is using way too much oil when he cooks. He talks about “smoke”. I have an article to talk about how to stop your air fryer smoking. This is something that happens sometimes when oil gathers and gets to its smoking point, usually when you add too much oil or the food you cook is very oily or fatty.
So, try not to worry about these reports. The problem with the internet, is it is easy to come across these kind of reported problems, even if they are incredibly rare. Look at the number of reports online anyway. It is literally a handful, with all the thousands of air fryer users worldwide. Believe me, if you use your air fryer correctly, you are incredibly unlikely to have a problem.
Common Misconceptions about Air Fryers
To help you with this, let’s discuss two of the popular misconceptions about air fryers.
Air Fryers Don’t Maintain EMF Standards – Some websites claim that air fryers emit electromagnetic fields when cooking, which in turn damages the functionality of other gadgets within its range. This is untrue as air fryers are manufactured to standards set up to govern the safety of Electro Magnetic Fields in appliances.
Extreme Heat Levels Are Dangerous – As we mentioned, air fryers use rapid hot air circulation technology to cook your meals. It is understandable to expect the outer body to get heated when in use. The extreme heat used to cook the dishes will never lead to any danger.
This is because air fryers are made up of high-quality materials responsible for absorbing extreme heat levels. It is still advisable to keep a distance from your air fryer whenever you’re cooking and use gloves on any hot surfaces.
The problem arises when people don’t realise that air fryers often vent hot air in order to keep the inside dry. This vented air can be very hot. If you place it too close to a plastic electrical outlet, for example, it will probably melt it! Other than this, the extreme heat an air fryer generates is perfectly safe.
Potential Air Fryer Hazards to be Wary of:
- Investing in a cheap, low-quality brand of air fryer.
- Improper placement of air fryers.
- Using too much oil.
- Overcrowding the basket.
- Washing incorrectly or infrequently.
- Setting it and forgetting.
Important Safety Tips Related To Air Fryers
You cannot just turn on your air fryer, throw in your food, and wait for a nice meal. Okay, you can. But there are a few tricks and safety tips you need to know before you start using your prized appliance. It’s necessary for you to learn more about your air fryer before you make a purchase to avoid unforeseen circumstances. Ignoring these air fryer safety tips could lead to accidents like burnt dinners, a broken fryer or in the worst-case scenario, fire!
1. Read Your Air Fryer’s Manual
Yes I know what everyone is tempted to do, I am the same!! Your first instinct is to toss the manual in the bin! But there is key safety information in there!
Before you start using your air fryer, it is vital that you read the instruction manual that comes with it. It may be long and boring, but remember your safety comes first. Don’t wait for your kitchen to catch fire to read your manual.
Most of us are guilty of disregarding the manufacturer’s instructions until something terrible happens. A lot of avoidable issues can arise just because you don’t want to spare a few minutes to read your instruction manual. Don’t use the air fryer for any other purpose except the one the manufacturer prescribes. You can begin with assessing the required voltage. I understand the excitement of being eager to use your brand new appliance. For most people, they just set up the appliance, turn it on and hope that nothing bad happens.
By making sure your electrical system and fuses are correctly rated for the power of your air fryer is important. You should do this with any powerful kitchen appliance, not just air fryers!
2. Clean After Every Use
You can be tempted to use your air fryer over and over again without cleaning it in between cooking sessions. The guy in the linked video above mentioned he only cleans his every few weeks!
Food particles or crumbs can start to burn the next time you cook, especially if they are stuck to the heating element. Lucky for you, the main air fryer compartment should be dishwasher safe (again check the manual). Wait for at least 30 minutes before cleaning to allow the air fryer to cool down.
For cleaning the air fryer’s non-stick surface, we recommend you use warm soapy water. Avoid using rough materials like steel wool and abrasive sponges with the non-stick surfaces. When you use hot water to clean the non-stick surfaces, they combine with the abrasive chemicals in detergents to wear the coating over time.
Operating issues can arise if you don’t clean your air fryer regularly. So, step up to the plate and do it! Trust me, it will be worth it in the long run!
3. NEVER Wash The Electrical Components
Many first time users expose their air fryers directly to water to wash them ‘properly.’ What they fail to realize is that just like other appliances, when electrical components come into direct contact with water, it can affect the functionality of these appliances. It can also lead to short circuits and electrical shocks that put you in danger.
The air fryer basket is the only part you can submerge in water. Everything else, just use a damp cloth.
Before starting the cleaning process, make sure you read the appliance manual carefully. Remember to keep power cords far from hot or wet surfaces.
4. Use The Right Amount Of Oil
To make fried food crispy and delicious, most folks tend to use excess oil. What they ignore is the fact that an air fryer adds the crispness level with considerably less oils than what is used with standard frying techniques.
In fact, most air fryers claim to be oil-free. In reality you won’t need to use more than the commonly suggested 1 tablespoon, and you won’t need to use any oil while cooking in some recipes. Certain foods don’t necessarily need oil as they already have some fat. They can include fatty cuts of meat and dark meat chicken. Adding more oil than required can lead to fire dangers. To counter this risk, only use the appropriate amount of oil. Try using a spray-on oil to spread the oil over a large area more evenly instead of directly applying it onto the food. We have a whole article about oil and air fryers HERE, if you wish to read it!
5. Grease The Air Fryer Basket
Your food may not require oil to cook in an air fryer, but it doesn’t hurt to grease your air fryer basket now and then. You can grease the basket by spraying or rubbing a little bit of cooking oil on the bottom grates. Doing this will ensure that your meals won’t stick and the potential burning and smoking will be less. Try using oils with high smoking points such as soybean or safflower oil for best results. Again, we have a full article on this website which discusses the best oil to use in air fryers.
6. Avoid Overcrowding The Basket
No one likes soggy dishes, give your food some room to breathe. Some people look to save time and energy by making big batches at once, a huge mistake! If you want your fried foods to be as tasty and crispy as possible, ensure you don’t overcrowd the basket. Too much food in the basket will prevent hot air from circulating freely resulting in an unevenly cooked mess.
Some air fryer models are bigger than others. Standard air fryers are best suited for 2-person cooking. Instead of overcrowding, try cooking your food in batches, or better yet purchase a family-size air fryer such as the Phillips XXL or even one of the new fangled oven style air fryers!. Bigger models can make portions for up to 6 people.
We talk more about stacking techniques for air fryers in THIS article too.
7. Dry your hands
This is pretty much a common safety tip for all electrical appliances in the home, but it’s worth reminding you all the same. Never operate your air fryer with wet hands.
8. Invest In The Right Accessories
Once you opt for the air frying route, it is advisable you invest in a few accessories for your new magic appliance. And you will be surprised that you may already have some. Oven-safe bake pans or baking dishes should be air fryer-safe as well. Ensure that your accessory fits comfortably inside the air fryer basket and can be safely used in temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
We have an article on this website talking about our own favourite air fryer accessories, this could be a great starting point.
9. NEVER Use Non-stick Aerosol Spray Cans
Aerosol sprays (often used for oil sprays such as PAM) are notorious in causing chipping in air fryer baskets. This can be attributed to the fact that aerosol spray cans contain additives and harsh agents that are not friendly with the coating on the baskets. Invest in a premium quality oil mister to avoid chippings caused by aerosol spray cans. Sometimes, these aerosol oil sprays can begin to build up a sticky residue over time too, which is not good. Stick to pure oil, and you won’t have these worries!
If your food sticks, it could burn next time you cook! Especially with build up over time.
10. Shake (or Flip) the Contents To Ensure Even Cooking
When air frying French fries, chicken wings and other smaller items, it is recommended that you turn, rotate or shake the contents every few minutes. This aspect may seem strange to you but shaking the basket while cooking will re-distribute the ingredients and allow even cooking.
Shaking is particularly helpful if your air fryer doesn’t have a self-stirring mechanism. Certain types of food require more periodic shaking than others. If you are cooking large items, you can use a pair of kitchen tongs to flip them instead of shaking. You should note that the air fryer should pause temporarily when you open the basket to shake, but will resume cooking your meal at the same temperature when you close the basket. Check your air fryer model to make sure it has this feature!
11. Place Your Air Fryer On An Even And Stable Surface
To prevent falls and leaks, find the right place for your appliance in your kitchen. Ensure that your air fryer is on a stable, heat-resistant counter top.
In terms of fire safety, leave at least 5 inches of space behind your appliance, where the exhaust vent is usually located. As stated above, I have seen way too many melted electrical outlets from people not thinking about this.
12. Adjust Temperature Accordingly
All foods (and air fryer brands) are not created equal. While some foods cook best under high temperatures, others can dry out quickly. The same is true of air fryers – temperatures may vary between different models. Don’t be too quick to crank the heat to the highest temperature. Test the temperature and cooking style of your own air fryer first.
13. NEVER Leave The Air Fryer Unattended
When cooking in your air fryer, it is tempting to walk away into another room and start doing your daily chores or feeding the cat! Don’t fall for this! Whenever your air fryer is being used for cooking, it should be kept under close watch.
As well as this, ensure that you keep your appliance safely from the reach of kids and pets. The last thing you want is your young child pulling a hot air fryer and its contents onto themselves!
14. For Repairs, Leave It To The Professionals
Most air fryer owners fail to take advantage of manufacturer warranty. If your warranty is still active, you can get a free repair or replacement for a defective product most of the time. If your warranty has expired, there are some options left.
Even if you are a DIY enthusiast, it is better to hire an authorized technician to handle your air fryer if it needs repairs. You can alternatively take it to an authorized service center. If you are not sure where to take your air fryer for repair, you can request your manufacturer to recommend a reliable service solution.
When buying an air fryer, the warranty should be a factor in your decision. Try to buy one with a full and lengthy warranty if possible. And read up on the exact details of the warranty. Some companies don’t include the “air fryer accessories” in their warranty!!
15. Turn off your air fryer when not in use!
This is the simplest solution, but one that is often forgotten. When your air fryer is not being used, make sure to unplug it from your mains electric. I have to admit this is even something I myself forget, and need to get into the habit of doing!
What Should I Do If My Air Fryer Catches Fire?
There are very few cases of air fryers catching fire. Extinguishing the fire caused by this appliance would be relatively easy as you can do this by turning off the source of heat.
Other than this, putting a wet towel over your air fryer would be a good idea here. Your air fryer is probably unusable after the event anyway, and better to save your house than your air fryer!
PRO TIP: some recent models of air fryers are designed to have a delay in their shutting down process. If the fan continues to blow hot air from the unit after you switch off the air fryer, no need for alarm. DO NOT press the power button again as this will turn the appliance back on. Give it time, and the air fryer will turn off automatically.
Here at Air Fryer Bro, we love air fryers and believe they are here for the long haul. Taking preventative measures can prove to be highly effective in reducing the chances of unforeseen accidents in the future. By making the best use of your air fryer while enjoying tasty meals, you are sure to fall in love with the whole air frying scene just like us! I have seen so many new air fryer users wax lyrical about how amazing their new machine is! Let’s keep it this way, by following these few safety tips.
If you have your own experiences or opinions about air fryer safety, we would love to hear all about them in the comments section below. Any firemen out there, we would love your take too!!