How to heat-proof oven mitts?
November 20, 2010 9:55 AM   Subscribe

When making oven mitts, do I need that special reflective insulating, or can I use regular cotton batting?

As far I know about commercially made oven mitts, there aren't really any standards for heat-proofness, but as an honest craftswoman am I better getting the awesome shiny stuff? Right now I have a med-light weight cotton quilting fleece. They would be shelled and lined with regular quilting cotton. Are my hands going to burst into flame when I test these out on a cookie sheet? The problem is I'm in a small town where supplies are few and far between, requiring the shiny stuff would probably mean ditching the project.

posted by Carlotta Bananas to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
From what I understand professional chefs and bakers often just use cotton towels to move hot pots and pans around, instead of mitts. So I don't think there's anything really wrong with cotton, unless you're going to be making the mitts for really high-heat applications like pizza ovens, or grills.
posted by Hither at 9:58 AM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

According to this page, the ignition temperature of cotton is 250 degrees Celsius, or 482 F. You might be safe to a bit above that, because mitts are generally exposed to the high heats very briefly, so they wouldn't have much time to heat up.

Do you know if the cotton is treated to be fire-resistant?
posted by Hither at 10:04 AM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've seen Insul-Bright recommended a few times on sewing blogs. I think if you use heavy enough cotton fabric on the outside regular batting will work fine.
posted by biddeford at 10:17 AM on November 20, 2010

I use cotton teatowels to move hot pans and take things out of the oven. The heat resistance is fine as long as you fold them over a couple of times and don't need to stand around holding the hot thing for more than a few seconds. They've never caught fire, except that time I didn't fold it properly and dangled a corner in the gas flame (oops).
posted by corvine at 10:22 AM on November 20, 2010

How about using finely woven wool? Wool is self-extinguishing--if it were to catch fire, it would put itself out rather than go up in flames. My mother used to make potholders from scraps of wool fabric, lined with cotton batting (or more wool scraps), and they lasted forever.
posted by Corvid at 10:23 AM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Corvid, thank you. I hadn't seen these felted recycled woolen potholders, but what a great idea!
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:49 AM on November 20, 2010

My oven mitts are all cotton. They get a little singed over time, but I've never had them burn. Often if they're at the other end of the kitchen I just use a tea towel. I guess the one extra thing I might really want in the mitts is some kind of barrier layer against hot fat for those occasions when a pan slops coming out of the oven. It'd be more convenient not to have to throw off a mitt really fast.
posted by Ahab at 11:45 AM on November 20, 2010

The issue with regular quilting batting is that, over time, the batting compresses, which is desirable for creating a flexible quilt with a nice drape, but in an oven mitt, the users fingers will get closer and closer to hot items and eventually get burned.

Better, use actual terry to line your mitts (mimicking the use of dish towels for the same purpose), felted 100% wool layers (this is a good use for old or 2nd-hand sweaters), or something like Insul-Bright.

It's tempting to use the quilt batting, but over time the mitts won't hold up (which is a big requirement for me when I am making items by hand).
posted by rumposinc at 12:19 PM on November 20, 2010

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