There’s no mystery to why air fryers have become such a trend – they’re convenient, easy to use, and offer a healthy cooking alternative by using less oil. However, it’s worth considering, can they often set off smoke alarms?
Air fryers usually do not set off smoke alarms. However, if food particles or other objects come in contact with excess heat, they may burn and release smoke. Too much grease or extremely high temperatures can cause enough smoke to set off your alarm.
In this article, I’ll delve into how air fryers may set off smoke alarms, what you can do if you find yourself in this situation and what steps you can take to avoid it from happening altogether.
How Do Air Fryers Set Off Smoke Alarms
Air fryers are designed and built to cook like a convection oven, so ideally, smoke should not be a problem as it’s supposed never to come out in excessive amounts. However, there are are some instances when this might happen:
- Food particles and other objects are stuck to the heating elements. Air fryers have heating elements or coils usually found on the top part of the machine. These elements are responsible for heating the fryer to up to 400 °F (204.4 °C) and, subsequently, cooking your food. When a particle or crumb comes in close contact with them, it burns quickly and produces large amounts of smoke.
- Overcrowded food can lead to splatter. It can be tempting to test the limit of your fryer’s basket but you shouldn’t. Overcrowding can cause some food particles to splatter onto the heating elements. When they do, they burn and create smoke, which would set off the alarm.
- Too much oil can overflow. Like too much food, too much oil can also be a hazard. It can overflow and spill onto the heating elements, which leads to smoke. Additionally, you don’t need to use too much oil when cooking with an air fryer in the first place.
- Small or light food can end up in the heating coil. Air fryers work using air convection flow. Air moves around, allowing for a more even heat distribution, just like in a convection oven. But as air moves, it may drag along small or light food particles, like herbs, thin meat slices, and so on. These may come in contact with the heating elements and burn.
- Paper or foil can touch the heating elements. When using parchment paper or foil inside an air fryer, it needs to be weighed down properly. Otherwise, it may move and touch the heating coil. When it does, there’s a big chance of it burning and producing smoke, or worse, combusting into flames since parchment paper or foil can burn quickly.
- Grease buildup leads to smoke. Grease buildup is not just icky; it can be dangerous. When heated to high enough temperatures, it can burn and even cause a fire. Therefore, it’s important to thoroughly clean your air fryer after every use.
- High-fat foods can release too much oil and grease. It’s not ideal to cook fatty foods in an air fryer. They can release too much oil that can spill onto the heating elements..
The Temperature Is Too Hot
It’s crucial to set your air fryer to the correct temperature. Excessive temperatures can char your food and cause smoke or, worse, fire. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that the heat level you’re using won’t cause oil to burn either.
The Air Fryer Has Electrical Problems
Smoke from your air fryer may also be a sign that the equipment itself has an electrical problem. Electrical problems combined with the high heat used in cooking can be more dangerous than you’d think. Make sure to turn off the machine immediately when this happens to avoid a fire.
What To Do When the Air Fryer Sets Off the Smoke Alarm?
Here’s what you can do when the air fryer sets off the smoke alarm:
- Wipe off any excess oil/grease.
- Remove the food from the air fryer.
- Clean the air fryer.
- Test your air fryer.
- Take your air fryer to a specialist.
- Check your smoke alarm.
Wipe Off Any Excess Oil/Grease.
First and foremost, turn off the air fryer. By doing so, you’ll also avoid a large fire from happening if the house wiring gets affected as well.
Take out the basket with food and try to wipe off any excess oil or grease. Alternatively, you can also place a piece of bread on the bottom of the equipment or add a few drops of water to reduce the smoke.
Afterwards, turn on the fryer again and resume cooking. However, if this doesn’t solve your issue, move on to the following approach.
Remove the Food From the Air Fryer
Turn off the air fryer again and take out the food. If the food is not cooked yet, it’s safer to finish the process using other methods, such as an oven or stovetop. Do not risk overworking your air fryer.
Usually, this approach will help significantly reduce the smoke. If not, it might be time for a more thorough clean.
Clean the Air Fryer
When it’s cool enough to touch, you can clean your air fryer. There may be some oil or food particles stuck in the heating elements or on the bottom of the unit that are causing the smoke. Removing all the oil and grease is crucial to preventing your fryer from releasing smoke again.
Pour out the extra oil. Then, use a tissue or towel to wipe the oil from the fryer. You can also use some bread or other absorbent materials to remove excess fat from the basket. Although it may seem tempting, refrain from eating the bread afterwards.
Take out the fryer’s removable parts and wash them with soap and water. You may also put them in a dishwasher.
For the inside of the air fryer, use a moist sponge to clean it gently. Do not douse it in water – it is dangerous and can expose you to a variety of safety hazards. Make sure that the plug is removed while cleaning the machine, just to be safe.
Do not forget to clean the heating elements as well. You may wipe them or use a soft-bristled brush. I want to reiterate the importance of letting them cool down completely before cleaning to avoid any burns. Additionally, don’t forget to wipe the outside of the fryer.
Test the Air Fryer
Before using your air fryer again, you’ll want to test it first to ensure the root cause of the smoke has been removed. The best approach to testing your equipment is to try cooking with it and checking if smoke still comes out. If not, then the excess oil or grease may have been the only culprit of the issue.
Take Your Air Fryer to a Specialist
If your air fryer is still smoking even after cleaning it, there may be some electrical damage or other technical problems that go beyond your skill set. If this is the case, you’ll want to take your equipment immediately to a professional. You might even want to check if your warranty covers it.
Check Your Smoke Alarm
There have been people who’ve reported that their air fryers trigger the smoke alarm even without smoke. This has stumped them, but some responded that this might likely be because the smoke alarm is faulty. Check if yours is beyond the replacement date. If so, replacing the smoke alarm altogether may solve the problem.
How To Avoid Setting Off the Smoke Alarm When Using the Air Fryer
Preventing a problem is easier than resolving it. Therefore, here are a few considerations to take note of that could help you avoid setting off the smoke alarm when using your air fryer:
Do Not Cook Too Much Food in an Air Fryer
As I’ve previously discussed, overcrowded food can cause splatter or spill, leading to burning and smoke. Avoid cooking too much food in your fryer. If you plan to cook a large batch, using alternative cooking methods, like an oven, may be better.
Avoid Cooking Fatty Foods
Not all foods are suited to be cooked in an air fryer, and fatty foods may be one of them. Try to keep cooking high-fat foods to a minimum, as they could lead to excess oil and accumulated grease. If ever you have to cook them, make sure to clean the equipment thoroughly right after.
Clean Your Air Fryer Regularly
Cleaning your air fryer regularly, although unpleasant, can prevent excessive build-up from blocking its openings. If possible, it’s best to clean the equipment after every use. This helps keep the grease at a minimum. Additionally, it helps prevent damage and helps your air fryer function optimally.
Use Little Oil or High Smoke Point Oil
Too much oil in an air fryer can lead to splattering and smoke, so you should keep it at a minimum. If you have to use oil, use high smoke point oil. Examples of this would be avocado oil, processed safflower oil, and sesame oil. Olive oil is also good to use, but its smoke point can vary, depending on the type. Extra light olive oil is the one of the highest smoke point varieties.
High smoke point oil burns at high temperatures, allowing you to cook with it much longer and on higher temperatures without smoke emission. Therefore, you wouldn’t have to worry about your oil burning and triggering the smoke alarm.
Place Your Air Fryer In a Well-Ventilated Area
Using your air fryer in a well-ventilated area can help keep it from excessively emitting smoke. However, it should not be placed too far from the smoke alarm. The smoke alarm helps protect your house from any possible incidents, so it should still be near enough to the air fryer to protect you and your home.
Weigh Down Parchment Paper and Foil
When using parchment paper or foil, make sure it is weighed down properly. It should never move around too much, as otherwise, it may come in contact with the heating coil. If that were to happen, you can imagine the excessive burning and smoke that would follow, not to mention the unbearable smell.