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 that 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. Once this valve is down and clicks it is safe to open your Instant Pot.
How Will I Know It Is Safe To Open My Instant Pot?
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.
When the instant pot lid looks similar to this with the metal valve dropped below the plastic level this is when the instant pot has depressurized and it is safe to open the lid.
If the instant pot looks more like the image below where the metal valve is still visible this is a clear indication that the instant pot has not depressurized and is unsafe to open.
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 Is Quick Release On An Instant Pot?
Instant pots have 2 ways of releasing the pressure from the pot a quick release and natural release. Depending on your time, what you are cooking and how you like to cook will depend on which one you choose to use.
Though the safety latch on the instant pot works the same way with each setting this may also may cause delay in opening your instant pot.
While the quick release is obviously quicker it can also cause mess and be harmful if you are not careful. The quick-release of the steam and pressure can still cause a delay in the pressure fully leaving the pot. Once the instant pot is ready to be opened the small metal latch will have dropped.
If you wish to use the quick release you would be expected to wait roughly 2-5 minutes at the most. Turn the black nozzle to venting until it clicks up, this will completely open the vent to let the pressure out. I suggest using a long tool as to keep your hands away from the steam.
What Is Natural Release On An Instant Pot?
On the other end of the scale, there is a natural release for instant pots, this is the way that is most commonly used as it is slow, steady and much safer.
The natural release happens when you turn the black nozzle on the lid to venting, once it is as venting it will slowly depressurize naturally and will take anything from 10-15 minutes.
The natural way is safer, causes less mess with water spewing everywhere and easier. Once the pot has reached a certain level and has depressurized this will then trigger the metal tab to fall and click.
During the natural release you will see the screen turn to L000 – this is the timer for how long the food has stopped cooking and the natural release has taken place. Different foods and recipes with require different release times so make sure to look out for that while you are releasing your instant pot
This timer will go up in minutes as time goes on, this does not indicate that the release is done, which can only be identified when the metal valve has dropped.
This will indicate it is ready to open, even once the instant pot is ready you should still take care when opening the lid for access steam.
What To Do If Your Instant Pot Lid Won’t 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.