Not burning the house down
July 1, 2014 6:31 AM   Subscribe

So I was going to cook some chicken in the oven this morning, and I opened the oven door just to make sure everything looked all right before preheating.

I noticed a little bit of residue at the bottom, so I went to wipe it up. In the process, I think I knocked a small piece of carbon into the very bottom of the oven, where it heats up (this is a gas oven). Should I be worried that this small piece might ignite and start a fire? I don't think I can remove that part on the bottom to get a better look. I realize that I'm probably being paranoid (it's an old oven and stuff has probably dripped in there before), but I'd like to know for sure. Thanks!
posted by EggplantPizza to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Best answer: I wouldn't worry. Carbon is what gets left when you cook a sugar: it breaks down to water/steam, carbon dioxide and carbon. You might get a little smoke.
posted by plinth at 6:41 AM on July 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: You'll probably get a smoky kitchen (ask me how I know), but that's about it. Our gas oven has a self clean cycle and gets way hotter than what you'd be cooking chicken at. I've never had carbon deposits ignite running self clean.

Long story short, cook your chicken. You'll be fine. :)
posted by kathrynm at 9:11 AM on July 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

You will be fine. As said above, it might smoke for a bit. But you only really need to worry about oven fires if there is substantial build up of grease/spilled oil inside the oven. Spilled flour and the like will not start a real fire. (I have field tested this theory: When my kids were little, setting my oven on fire again was my cue to clean the oven.)
posted by Michele in California at 11:09 AM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We recently had a fire in our oven due to some leftover charred crusties in the bottom. Thick smoke was pouring out of the exhaust pipe, so we called the fire department just to be safe.

It turns out an oven is made to contain heat really well, so there was very little chance of the fire spreading. They told us to just let it burn itself out and we did. We ran the auto-cleaning cycle afterward and had a tiny bit more smoke, but things were fine after that.
posted by tacodave at 2:17 PM on July 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

We have a dedicated fan for our smoke detector, just for these situations...
posted by ovenmitt at 2:53 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

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