When I first got my Instant Pot I was both scared and confused. One of the biggest questions during my trial run of using the machine was “when do we know if safe to open?”
Every Instant Pot has a float valve. It’s a metal tip which is often dipped inside the black plastic top of the lid.
When the Instant Pot valve is up and in line with the rest of the plastic the Instant Pot is fully pressurized and can not be opened – a safety feature prevents it.
You will need to wait until the float drops back into the plastic (although you’ll still be able to see it) before you move to open the Instant Pot.
How long the Instant Pot takes to depressurize will depend on whether you decide to adjust the vent from the sealing position to the venting position.
When adjusting this setting you’ll want to keep your head away from the Instant Pot and use a tool to adjust it instead of your hands as the machine will likely be very hot.
If your Instant Pot is set to natural release then the pressure will likely take anything from between 10 minutes to one hour (the exact time will depend on the temperature and settings your Instant Pot is set to) to come down to a point in which you’re able to open the Instant Pot.
However, if your Instant Pot is set to quick release then you’ll be able to open your lid around two minutes after the timer has stopped counting down (again the exact time will depend on the setting and temperature you’ve been running the machine on)
Quick-release will mean that the steam comes out of the vent in a higher volume which can be more dangerous so be sure to give the machine some space (don’t put it under a cabinet) and keep your face away from it at this time.
To open the Instant Pot lid turn it counter-clockwise until the arrows on the lid line up with the arrows on the machine labeled ‘open’. If the machine is plugged in it’ll play a fancy tune.
When you do open your Instant Pot be sure that you do so by pointing the inside of the lid away from your face.
What To Do If Your Instant Pot Lid Wont Open
If you are unable to open your Instant Pot lid after the pressure has released and the metal valve is down then you may have a problem with your machine.
I would advise you to wait at least 15 minutes on the quick release setting before attempting any of the following methods. This will ensure that there’s not been a fault with the pin or the valves (such as a piece of food getting stuck in them) which has resulted in the machine providing you with a false ‘open the lid’ reading.
The first thing I would check is that the sealing ring hasn’t got stuck. This will require you to apply some additional pressure to the lid to ‘unstick’ the ring. If this is the cause and you do manage to open the machine I would remove the ring from the lid and clean it as per the instructions before resetting it to avoid this happening again.
Next, I would slightly wobble the pin just to ensure it’s not caught on something. I’d use an object for this instead of your hands such as a knife. Again, it’s key to ensure that the pressure has released before doing this and proceed with incredible caution. The pin is a safety feature of the lid which prevents the lid from opening if the machine still contains pressure.
If you’re still not managed to get the lid to release I’d contact Instant Pot directly who may be able to assist you based on your specific issue.
How To Clean Your Instant Pot Lid
There are two parts to the Instant Pot lid, the actual lid and the silicone ring which goes inside.
The silicone ring is one of the most essential parts of the machine and as a result should be cleaned with great caution. Although you should find new machines come with a replacement ring, and further replacements can be purchased online.
If you find that your Instant Pot lid smells it’s likely to be the silicone ring inside. This should be cleaned separately to the actual lid of the Instant Pot (which is suitable for the dishwasher).
I’ve found that the Instant Pot lid rarely requires anything more than a wipe down with a damp cloth. However, it is also dishwasher safe. Although it’s recommended you remove the sealing ring and the anti-block shield beforehand.
How To Replace Your Instant Pot Lid
Should you damage your Instant Pot lid beyond repair you can purchase a replacement online.
The Instant Pot website has replacement lids for all the major machines. These cost between $30 and $60 depending on the machine you have. Shipping is free for orders over $50 and can take up to three weeks.