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1. What Causes Grease Fires?
Grease fires occur two ways. When fat or oil from food comes in direct contact with a flame or if the vapour from the fat or oil gets too hot and spontaneously combusts.
From a grilling perspective, Pit-Boss and Louisiana Gills pellet grills have a curved flame broiler plate, onto which oil or grease from your food drips down. Then, it catches in the lip area of the plate to eventually flow down into the grease bucket. Things start to go wrong when too much grease builds up and pools on the plate or if the flame broiler is open and fat drips directly into the flame.
2. You've Got A Grease Fire, Now What?
You can tame it pretty quickly, with three easy rules:
1: DO NOT- we repeat, DO NOT use water.
Water is essential to life- just not to grease fires. It's bad for electrical equipment, and more importantly, it reacts poorly to oil and can immediately escalate a grease fire into a raging bonfire; burning your sweet juicy brisket right along with it.
2: Cut off the oxygen supply.
Fire needs oxygen. The more oxygen, the larger the flame.Therefore, if you can safely close the lid, close it. That's the fastest way to try to Lower the oxygen supply. Then, unplug the grill to kill the igniter and fan forced convection.
3: If needed, smother the fire.
If you can't close the lid or if the flames start to get too wild, throw some baking soda or salt on them. Baking soda CO2 and salt draws the heat out of the fire, which help extinguish flames immediately. It takes a decent amount of either kitchen item to be fully effective, so it's best to have a refrigerator sized box of baking soda on hand for small fires or at least a cup or more of salt for larger ones. otherwise, as a last resort, go straight for the fire extinguisher.
3. How To Prevent Grease Fires?
Tip #1: Defense is always the best offence.
The best way to prevent one of those fatty infernos is to keep your grill clean. See our earlier blog on proper pellet grill maintenance for a detailed guide to properly clean your pellet grill.
Tip #2: Keep a close eye on fat-rich foods.
Proteins with high-fat content like bacon, brisket pork butts, or ribeye steak produce more grease than other foods. If you're grilling up one of these, make sure the slide plate flame broiler is clear, so all the oil has a safe place to go. Before starting up the grill, check that there isn't already grease pooled in the lip of the plate and that its also clear of any food that might block the flow into the grease management system.
Tip #3: Avoid doing a burn off right after grilling fat-rich foods.
Most experienced pellet grillers like to do a burn off right after a grilling session to help clean their grill. If there is still a lot of grease sitting inside it's best to do the burn off after the grill is cleaned to reduce the chances of the oil it's flash point temperature- around 600 F.