Instant pots first came out in 2010 and, since then, they have become incredibly popular with cooking enthusiasts. But can it explode, and if it can, what can you do about it?
An instant pot can explode, but the risk of explosion is far less than that of a pressure cooker as it has many safety features. By following your instant pot user manual closely, keeping it clean, inspecting it regularly, and replacing the seal when needed, you reduce the risk of explosion.
This article will explain more about instant pots and why they’re safer than pressure cookers. We’ll also discuss the rare circumstances under which they can explode, so let’s get started before you start your next instant pot meal.
Why Instant Pots Are Safer Than Pressure Cookers
Instant pots are considered safer than pressure cookers due to their many automatic safety features. Below are their safety features:
- Lid locking mechanism: All instant pots come with a lid locking mechanism. As soon as a pressure cooking cycle starts, the lid automatically locks, and it won’t unlock until the pressure has released, which helps to prevent the pot from exploding.
- Steam release valve: Instant pots have steam release valves such as the SENLIXIN Steam Release Valve (available on Amazon.com) to help regulate the pressure. When the appliance detects that the pressure is becoming too high, it’ll automatically release steam through the valve.
- Temperature fuse: When closed correctly, instant pots form a sealed vacuum. As it heats up, the steam expands and builds pressure. If the instant pot’s temperature fuse detects excess temperatures, it automatically cuts off the power supply. This is a safety mechanism to prevent burns and explosions.
- Automatic pressure detection and control: Instant pots have automatic pressure detection and control mechanisms that monitor the inner pressure while cooking. If it detects that the pressure is too high, the instant pot will automatically stop building pressure to avoid a pressure explosion.
- Electric fuse: Instant pot explosions due to excess electrical current are rare, but the manufacturers have taken no chances. Each instant pot has an electric fuse to automatically cut the power supply if it detects excess electrical current.
- Lid leak detection: If your instant pot’s sealing ring is faulty, the steam valve isn’t in the correct position, or you haven’t secured the lid correctly for the cooking cycle, it can cause the contents to leak out. Instant pots have leaking lid detection mechanisms to alert the user to the problem. If the instant pot leaks during pressure cooking, the hot food contents can explode onto the user when they open the lid.
- Anti-blockage vent: The instant pot’s anti-blockage vent is a piece of metal mesh covering the steam vent to prevent food build-up. It’s highly effective, but food particles can still pass through it and block the vent in rare cases.
- Lid position sensor: Instant pots automatically alert users when the lid hasn’t been sealed and locked correctly.
As you can see from the above, instant pots have far more safety features than pressure cookers. Instant pot safety features are also automatic, helping to eliminate human error.
We can, therefore, conclude that the chances of an instant pot exploding are minimal.
Circumstances Under Which an Instant Pot Can Explode
We have determined that instant pots are far safer to operate than traditional pressure cookers and have concluded that they are much less likely to explode than pressure cookers. It’s rare for an instant pot to explode, but there are certain circumstances under which it may explode.
Let’s look at them now.
Sealing Ring Malfunction
Your instant pot’s sealing ring such as the ZoneFly Sealing Ring (available on Amazon.com) is a vital safety component as it ensures that the appliance is sealed and operates safely while cooking. Most instant pot users need to replace their sealing rings every year or two, but it’s good to inspect them regularly for cracks, holes, or signs of wear and tear.
Luckily, sealing rings aren’t expensive and can easily be ordered online.
Leaving Your Instant Pot Unattended When Pressure Cooking
Although instant pots are much less likely to explode than ordinary pressure cookers, there’s still a tiny chance something can go wrong.
When pressure cooking foods in your instant pot, it’s a sensible idea to keep an eye on it for early warning signs of a problem. Instant pots usually switch off automatically when the pressure, electrical current, or temperature is too high, but staying close by can alert you to other issues.
Deep Frying Foods
If you’ve just bought an instant pot, you might want to pressure fry chicken or fries.
Even though instant pots can prepare a wide range of foods in many different ways, they’re not designed to pressure fry. Deep frying foods can damage your instant pot and potentially cause an explosion.
Not Cleaning or Inspecting the Instant Pot Regularly
Instant pots come with in-built, anti-block shields to prevent food particles from blocking the steam release valve. However, the anti-block shields aren’t 100% effective, and tiny food particles can clog the steam release valve.
Clogged steam release valves can affect how your instant pot regulates pressure and, in rare circumstances, cause an explosion.
The instant pot manual advises users to ensure that the appliance is clean and free of built-up debris before cooking. You should also check the sealing ring and inner pot for signs of cracks or damage before you start preparing food in the instant pot.
Ignoring Instant Pot’s List of Approved Foods
After reading your instant pot manual, you’ll notice that it has a list of approved foods and recipes for cooking.
Foods not contained in this list, such as some cereals, fruit, and certain pasta types, tend to sputter during the cooking process. These foods can easily clog the steam release valve, resulting in a potential explosion.
Fortunately, there are few foods on this list, and you can easily substitute them with something else.
Opening the Instant Pot Before the Pressure Cooking Cycle Ends
Common sense says that you should allow your appliance to finish its cycle before removing the lid.
It’s typically impossible to remove the lid before the cooking cycle ends due to the safety locking mechanism. However, there have been reports of instant pot users forcing the lid open before it unlocks, resulting in steam burns or the contents exploding.
Clogged Steam Release Valve
One of the instant pot’s most vital parts is the steam release valve. If the steam release valve becomes clogged up with food, there’s nowhere for the steam to escape during pressure cooking.
This can result in an explosion, making it essential to check that your steam release valve is clear of debris before starting a cooking cycle.
Not Including a Cup of Liquid for Pressure Cooking
Instant pots need at least one cup of liquid to maintain the optimal pressure level during the cooking process. The liquid can be anything you like, such as vegetable stock, milk, or wine. If you’re concerned about your dish becoming too runny, you could always add a little flour or cornstarch afterward.
It’s easy to fill your instant pot correctly as it has a maximum fill line inside. However, if you exceed the maximum fill line, the hot food may explode when you open the lid. If you’re preparing a dish with foods that expand, such as rice, pasta, or lentils, you should fill your instant pot up to the halfway line only.
What Is an Instant Pot?
An instant pot is a multicooker that has several cooking functions, including pressure cooking, sautéing, rice cooking, steaming, yogurt making, warming, and slow cooking. It gets its name because it reduces cooking time by around one-third.
Instant pots plug into a power socket and come in various capacities to suit the consumer’s needs.
Popular dishes to prepare in an instant pot include:
- Butter chicken
- Mushroom risotto
- Zuppa Toscana
- Spaghetti and meat sauce
- Chicken and dumplings
What Is a Pressure Cooker?
A pressure cooker is a vacuum-sealed pot that generates steam under high pressure to cook a range of foods. As the steam increases, so does the pressure, resulting in temperatures up to 210°F (98.89°C). The high temperature can cook food at a faster rate than other methods.
Pressure cookers were invented in the 17th century and became popular as very little water was needed to cook, helping the food retain its original nutritional content. Unfortunately, traditional pressure cookers had a reputation of exploding when not handled safely and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Since an instant pot can pressure cook foods, many folks are concerned that they pose the same danger of explosion as traditional pressure cookers.
Traditional pressure cookers are more likely to explode than instant pots due to the following reasons:
- Manual temperature control: Traditional pressure cookers aren’t plugged into a power source but heated up on the stovetop. Therefore, it’s up to the user to control the temperature, which affects the extent of pressure build-up. It’s easy to forget to decrease the stovetop temperature as you may focus on other meal preparation aspects.
- The user needs to ensure that the lid is correctly placed before cooking. With older pressure cookers, you need to check for yourself that the lid has been securely latched before use. If the lid is improperly locked onto the pot, it can cause an explosion.
- No pressure fuse: When using an older pressure cooker, you need to wait for the valve to whistle, indicating that it’s reached the optimal cooking pressure and to decrease the stovetop heat. If you forget to listen for the whistle, excess pressure can build up resulting in an explosion.
- Manual lid-locking: Traditional pressure cookers have manual lid-locking features. If you inadvertently open the lid before pressure cooking is complete, the contents can explode onto you, causing burns and possible injury.
Electric pressure cookers actually work much like instant pots in that they have automatic temperature controls, and a timer that you can set and forget. They also have different settings to choose from, such as “meats,” “poultry,” “beans,” and so forth.
These settings allow you to cook food much in the same way as you would with an instant pot.