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Fat fire - a danger to the home and family

By: Florian Hörhammer - Munich Fire Brigade

A common cause of fire includes in the home there are so-called fat fires. Excessive heating of the fat can cause it to ignite and, as a consequence, to house fires and / or burn injuries of the worst proportions.

Fat Fires - How Do They Start?

To put it simply, from an everyday kitchen situation. A moment of inattention and the fat in the pot or pan begins to smoke.

The step from this harmless everyday scene to a fat fire is very small. If it would normally suffice to defuse the situation, simply pull the cooking appliance off the stove, conversely it is sufficient to keep increasing the fat temperature in order to start a fire.

In the background are simple scientific rules, according to which - to put it bluntly - every substance, every object starts to burn if only enough energy (temperature) is supplied to them.

We have prepared this scenario "kitchen-ready" for you.

If the fat on the stove continues to heat up as a result of a brief distraction (e.g. a telephone call), a lot of smoke occurs and the fat begins to boil.

At this point the fat has not yet reached its flash point; there is therefore no direct fire hazard. Nonetheless, boiling fat can cause serious skin injuries on contact.

Smoking, boiling fat


Please remove the cooking vessel immediately from the hotplate or heat source and put the lid on the cooking appliance.

Aggravation of the situation

If energy continues to be supplied, i.e. the pot is not taken off the stove, the fat will continue to heat up and ignite automatically.

Overheated fat starts to burn

Renewed ignition of the fat


Here, too, you should remove the cooking vessel from the fireplace immediately, put on the appropriate lid and leave it on for a long time.


If available, you should protect your hands with grill gloves or something similar.


If you remove the cover too early, it may flare up again; treacherously it can take some time before it starts to burn again.

Put the lid back on the cooking appliance immediately or, even better, leave the lid on the pot for a few minutes.


Under no circumstances should you walk through the apartment with a burning pot or pan. Just imagine what can happen if you trip or the hot fat spills over your unprotected hands!

If more and more energy is supplied, the fat temperature reaches a particularly critical range.
The fat continues to burn despite the covering.

This mainly happens when the lid doesn't close properly!

Fat continues to burn despite being covered

Pan covered with wet cloth


It is clear that you should immediately remove the cooking vessel from the fireplace and press the lid firmly onto the pot (use grill gloves). Also cover the cooking vessel with a wet towel.

If the fire continues, close all windows and doors immediately and notify the fire brigade and your neighbors immediately. If you have a grease fire extinguisher, you should now use it.

But please inform yourself about the correct handling;
Under no circumstances may you use a water or foam fire extinguisher! Powder or CO2 extinguishers are not really suitable either, as a flare-up when the concentration of the extinguishing agent decreases cannot be ruled out. In addition, damage to the extinguishing agent must be accepted when using a powder extinguisher.

Adding water to a grease fire results in a deflagration that is similar in scale to an explosion.

Deflagration by adding water

While trying to extinguish the fire yourself with the right extinguisher (grease-edge extinguisher, fire class F), a grease fire must never be extinguished with water.

Even the smallest amount of water (1 glass) leads to a violent reaction, the so-called fat explosion. Since the burning fat burns much hotter than the boiling temperature of water, the liquid that is introduced evaporates suddenly. As a result, the burning fat is torn out of the container with the water vapor and comes into contact with the oxygen in the air, more or less finely distributed. A pillar of fire several meters high now leads to the most severe burns and possibly ignites the entire kitchen furniture.

A video with the fire protection container of the Munich professional fire brigade illustrates this impressively.

Professional fire brigade Munich

In such a stressful situation, having to look for the emergency number of the fire brigade from the phone book can overwhelm many people. In any case, it costs valuable time.

So it is best to leave the emergency number (112) next to the phone, stick it directly on the phone or program the number.


Also remember that the grease filters above the hob are flammable;
the more the longer these have not been exchanged.

VIS article:

External links:

In order to clarify the problem of fat burns, we have linked to two external videos:

The Free State of Bavaria provides you with independent, science-based information on consumer protection on this website.
Unfortunately, we cannot offer individual legal information and personal advice. We are also not allowed to warn companies that behave in an anti-competitive manner ourselves.
If you have any questions about your specific situation, please contact the contact points listed under Service.

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