Are Dehydrators Safe To Leave On Overnight or Unattended?

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As dehydrating foods using a dehydrator can take up to 24 hours you maybe wondering what you should do with your dehydrator overnight, while at work etc.

The good news is electrical food dehydrators are safe to leave on overnight and unattended. Just ensure they are in a ventilated area, show no signs of damage and aren’t covered by any tea-towels etc.

An while there are some risks to leaving any electrical appliance on overnight they are minimal provided that you check the safety recalls of your appliance.

Be sure to check your appliance to ensure it is not damaged and ensure that your smoke alarm is fully working.

Then leave your dehydrator on a fixed surface and away from anything which could catch fire as a result of heat such as towels and water.

While electric food dehydrators pose no more of a risk than other similar appliances in the household it’s always important to ensure they are used in safe conditions.

This includes using them on a fixed surface and away from anything which could catch fire such as towels and water. As well as regularly checking that the appliance is free from safety recalls.

Can You Over Dehydrate Food?

You can over dehydrate food to the point the food loses all forms of texture.

One of my first experiences was with dried meat which I’d dehydrated for longer than required. I totally forgot the appliance was being used.

I set it going midday on Sunday, went to bed that night, woke up for work, missed the appliance altogether and went straight to work. As a result, it had been turned on dehydrating some jerky for over 18 hours.

As a result of the meat simply crumbled in my hand every time I tried to eat it. While it was still safe to eat it was incredibly small, the texture wasn’t great and it was very messy!

Signs of over dehydration of foods includes;

  • Bad taste
  • Different smell
  • Change in texture
  • Smaller in size

Dehydration can occur from the temperature of the dehydrator as well as how long you leave the food inside the appliance for. Therefore be sure to consider both settings prior to dehydrating any foods.

You can rehydrate foods that you over dehydrate should you wish to do so, however, this is often more complex than dehydrating. In the past when I’ve over dehydrated foods I’ve simply looked for an alternative way in which I can use them.

Do Dehydrators Have Timers?

One solution to leaving your dehydrator turned on for longer than required is to purchase one with a built-in timer.

These can be slightly more expensive than basic dehydrators, however, in my opinion, I’ve found it to be a worthwhile investment.

This Magic Mill dehydrator has 10 wire racks and includes a countdown timer and digital temperature controls.

That said if you’ve already got a dehydrator you could opt to purchase a wi-fi enabled smart plug and control the power coming through the plug socket from there.

They are often significantly more affordable than replacing the entire appliance (and add timer functionality to appliances that simply don’t have that functionality whatsoever).

Are Dehydrators A Fire Hazard?

While any electrical appliance is a fire hazard to some degree dehydrator are no more dangerous than a fridge, freezer or computer etc.

The fire hazard is significantly reduced as a result of the low temperatures that dehydrators run at when compared to other cooking appliances such as a toaster oven or kettle.

Prior to using the dehydrator, you should check for damage to the plug or the cord and as always to minimise and protect yourself from or during a fire you should ensure that you have a working smoke alarm which is tested regularly.

You should also check the safety recalls for your make and model of dehydrator every six months or so.

In some cases, appliances can be recalled due to a fault which has been reported multiple times and therefore made the appliance unsafe for use by all who own it.

Can You Stop & Start A Dehydrator

If you’re concerned about leaving your dehydrator on while it’s unattended then you may instead want to turn the appliance off and turn it back on in the morning or when you’re home from work.

This does have a small impact on the food as it’s almost dried in that fixed state when you stopped applying the heat.

Therefore reapplying the heat afterwards can cause many foods to become incredibly brittle and break easily.

However, it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind.

Things to keep in mind when you’re stopping and starting the appliance include;

  • The foods you’re dehydrating
  • The amount of time it’ll take for the appliance to re-climatise
  • The amount of time you’ve already dehydrated the food for
  • How full your dehydrator is