There have been many horrible tales about pressure pots blowing up and causing terrible burns. The Instant Pot (available on Amazon.com) has become more popular, and therefore, that fear from regular pressure pots may have also affected you as an Instant Pot user. After all, Instant Pots are similar to traditional pressure pots, so are they really safe?
Instant Pots are safe. They have at least ten built-in safety systems to ensure that they remain safe when used properly. Unlike the older pressure pots, Instant Pots are unlikely to harm people because these systems will regulate the pressure or automatically turn them off if the levels get unsafe.
This article will explain the ten safety systems of Instant Pots and give you tips on how to stay safe while using your Instant Pot. Keep reading!
Are Instant Pots Safe?
Instant Pots are safe because they have ten safety systems that keep them safe while in use. Some of these functions will monitor the pressure, temperature, and electricity to keep it at a safe level, while others will stop the pot from working if set up incorrectly.
If these Instant Pot systems fail, the installed fuses will automatically turn the pot off to keep you safe. Let’s explore the 10 safety systems included in the Instant Pot.
1. Lid Position Detection
The lid detection feature stops the pressure functions on Instant Pot from working if the lid is not positioned the right way. When you take off the lid of your Instant Pot or put it on incorrectly, the warm and sauté modes are the only ones that’ll work, while pressure cooking will automatically go off.
This feature is vital because the Instant Pot works with pressure. The pot heats up the water in your food, and as the water boils, the lid traps the steam. If the lid is locked correctly, it should stay firm enough to keep all the steam in.
As the trapped steam builds, its heat drives up the temperature of your food and starts to cook it. This mechanism is what helps the Instant Pot cook food in such a short time.
If the lid of your pot is not set correctly, it can’t stay firm to trap the steam. The pressure that should normally build up inside the pot and cook your food can fling the lid off or blast hot steam at you. To avoid this, the Instant Pot will not start pressurized cooking if the lid isn’t set right.
2. Automatic Pressure Control
The Instant Pot has a pressure sensor feature that monitors the pressure buildup inside the pot. The safe pressure range of the pot is between 10.12 and 11.6 pounds per square inch (psi). If the pressure gets higher than the 11.6 psi limit, the sensor will notice it and get into action.
High-pressure levels in a cooker can make it dangerous because it becomes more likely to explode. To avoid this, the Instant Pot pressure control system detects the high pressure and stops heating the pot for a while. The pressure control also kick-starts other safety systems like the Steam Release (which I’ll get into next) to bring the pressure down.
3. Steam Release
The steam release is an opening that automatically opens to safely let out steam from your Instant Pot when the pressure climbs as high as 15.23 psi. If the reduced heat from the pressure control feature can’t drive down the pressure in the inner pot fast enough, this feature kicks in.
When you’re using an Instant Pot, you should know that the steam inside a working Instant Pot is at a higher temperature than boiling water; hot enough to cause severe burns. Because it can be so dangerous, you can’t get the excess steam out by opening the pot. Instead, the release feature automatically opens the release valve at the top of your Instant Pot to let out steam and control the pressure.
It’s important to note that the pressure is so high that it might cause your Instant Pot to hiss while the release valve lets out steam. There’s nothing to be scared of when you hear this hissing; it’s simply a safety feature.
4. Anti-Block Shield
Because the steam release pipe is crucial to keeping your Instant Pot safe, it has to remain freely open. A common issue with the release valve, as seen in older pressure pot versions, is that it can easily get clogged up with food, liquid, or particles. As the clogging worsens, the release valve can get blocked altogether, leaving no way for the pot to release steam.
To avoid this blockage, the Instant Pot’s steam release valve has a stainless steel cover that shields the release pipe by preventing food from getting into it. This anti-block shield also keeps other particles from getting into the valve. The shield helps to ensure that steam can always be conveniently released to maintain a safe pressure inside the pot.
5. Leaky Lid Protection
It’s not safe for a pot to release steam while actively cooking. If this happens, the liquid will evaporate faster than usual, and it’s pretty likely that the food inside will burn. To help with this, the pot automatically switches from pressurized cooking to the “keep warm” mode.
Your steam release should be sealed when you start cooking to build up pressure. Leaving it to vent will make the pipe give off steam all through your cooking, dry up the liquid, burn your food, and possibly overheat the pot. If your Instant Pot detects that the release is not sealed, it won’t pressurize.
Besides that, the cooker also monitors pre-heating time. It’s meant to reach working pressure in less than 40 minutes. If it doesn’t, the sensor will reduce heat output to keep the pot safe.
6. Safety Lid Lock
When a pot is under pressure, it has a lot of scalding steam trapped inside, so it shouldn’t be opened. If the steam gets in contact with the skin, it can cause nasty burns.
Opening the pressurized cooker and getting burned by steam is a common mistake in older cookers, so Instant Pot has an automatic Lid Lock feature for that. This feature keeps the pot’s lid locked in as long as it’s under pressure.
Until the steam has condensed and the pressure has reached a safe level, the Instant Pot safety lid lock will stop you from opening it and hurting yourself.
7. Automatic Temperature Control
Similar to its pressure sensor, the Instant Pot also has a built-in thermostat, which is a temperature sensor that automatically controls the temperature inside the pot. Each of the pot’s cooking modes has a temperature limit, so when you set your cooking mode, the thermostat makes sure that the temperature doesn’t go beyond the limit for that mode.
The temperature control works by reducing the heating or turning it off when it starts to get too high. When the temperature goes back down, the thermostat will turn the heating back on. This way, your pot will remain safe, and your food won’t get burnt during cooking.
8. Overheat Protection
Apart from high heat input, other factors can make your Instant Pot overheat. The settings that could go wrong in the pot to cause overheating include:
- Using too little liquid while cooking.
- Using cooking liquid that’s too thick.
- Leaving leftover food stuck to the bottom of the pot after using it for “sticky” cooking, like sautéing or searing without deglazing it.
- Having dirt stuck between the bottom of the pot and the heating element to break their contact.
These reasons, and many others, can cause your Instant Pot to overheat. When the sensor detects this, it’ll display a “BURN” or “OVHT” message on the screen display. This means that it’s turning down the heat going into the pot so your food doesn’t get burnt.
9. Thermal Fuse
A thermal fuse is essentially a strip of wire that melts to break the connection in an appliance when the temperature starts rising beyond the limit. The thermal fuse in your Instant Pot is a feature that kicks in only when the other safety systems can’t bring the temperature down.
If the cooker keeps working at an uncontrolled temperature beyond the safety limits, it’ll become a hazard to you. The fuse will cut off power to the pot and shut it down altogether to ensure your safety.
10. Electrical Control
Similar to its thermal fuse, the Instant Pot has an electrical fuse. This fuse is a strip of wire that breaks the connection in the cooker when the electric current rises beyond the limit. If it keeps working under a higher current than the safety limit, the electricity could damage the entire pot or even affect your power.
The fuse avoids this by stepping in to melt itself, cutting off power to your cooker, and keeping it safe. If every other part of your pot remains unaffected, you can get it back in action by simply replacing the fuse!
Safety Tips for Using an Instant Pot
The Instant Pot has many features to keep you safe while cooking, but you have to play your part by using it safely. Here are a few tips for you to stay safe while using your Instant Pot:
- Read and follow the manual. Like every other appliance, the safety guidelines of your Instant Pot are in the manual. It’s pretty easy to overlook reading manuals until you have a challenge with your pot, but you can avoid a ton of problems by carefully reading the manual to use your cooker the right way.
- Add a moderate amount of liquid to your cooking. Every pressure cooker works with steam, so you must add some water to whatever you’re cooking in your Instant Pot. Because steam expands, you should also be careful not to add too much. All of the combined liquid from water and other sources in your cooking should not be more than 1 ½ cups.
- Don’t overfill your Instant Pot. Inside the pot, there are lines to indicate the limits for filling it, and you have to take note of them to avoid damaging your cooker. Ideally, food in your Instant Pot should never go higher than the 2⁄3 mark. For starchy or expanding food, don’t fill it any further than the 1⁄2 mark.
- Stay away from the released steam. The steam from the pot is hot enough to cause burns. When it’s being released through the vents, you should stay away from it.