Use a hood over a gas stove?
December 30, 2005 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Do I need a hood with this?

I confess, I've already got a hood. The real question is do I need to use it all the time?
I've got a gas stove and stove top, with a powerful hood overhead. Our kitchen is pretty big, with tall ceilings (12 ' I think). The house is poorly sealed, since it was built in the 1920, and we get plenty of fresh cold air in the kitchen under normal circumstances.

The reason I don't want to use the hood is that it is noisy. Usually the food I cook smells good.

Why do I need to use the hood at all? What situations would it be beneficial in? What's the risk of not using it?
posted by daver to Food & Drink (15 answers total)
You don't need to use the hood at all if you don't want to. I've had kitchens (with gas stoves and ovens) without them. They are, however, really useful if you're chopping onions, or if you burned something, or if you're cooking in the summer.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:14 PM on December 30, 2005

We have to use a hood because we have a crazy sensitive smoke detector. If you don't mind not exhausting all the airborne cooking products then you don't need to use it.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:30 PM on December 30, 2005

Growing up, we had a gas stovetop and we never used the exhaust hood unless the food was smoking. We didn't die or anything. And consider that the oven isn't vented, even if it's gas, and no one seems to mind.
posted by smackfu at 7:45 PM on December 30, 2005

Sometimes cooking fish, curry, or garlic dishes can stink up the house for a few days, so for those types of meals we sometimes use the hood for that.
posted by mathowie at 8:06 PM on December 30, 2005

Ditto with Dipsomaniac. Ours is doubly bad because the smoke alarms are wired into the house, so we can't just take them down when the alarm goes off.
posted by jmd82 at 8:22 PM on December 30, 2005

The reason for the exhaust hood is primarily to exhaust moisture and odors. If the house gets plenty of air exchanges anyway, and you don't mind the odors, it shouldn't hurt at all not to run it much.
posted by gwenzel at 8:24 PM on December 30, 2005

Hm, I thought about it, and the only time I've used the hoodvent was when I burned something. Otherwise, in the 12 years I've lived here, I haven't used it once.
posted by puke & cry at 11:37 PM on December 30, 2005

I've never had a hood at home and I've never really missed it. Except for those odd times that I'm drying my cast iron skillet on the stove and it sets off the smoke detector in the hallway.

But then, I tend to relish in food and the smell of it. When I cook dinner the whole house knows it and generally people come out of the woodwork to join in the ritual and enjoy the product. It's a party.

If you don't want what you're cooking to become the center of attention in the house, turn on that hood. But generally, I wouldn't use it if you don't like it.

Restaurants use them because the volume and variety of dishes being cooked can overwhelm the dining room with voluminous, clashing smells. Homeowners are led to believe that they need a restaurant kitchen and all its trappings these days, but in this case it really isn't true.
posted by scarabic at 12:27 AM on December 31, 2005

Somebody with more knowledge in this area is needed, but...

The fume hood is typically required over a gas stove, but not over an electric. It could be an an artifact of manually lighted stoves or something, but I always thought it was related to the combustion products. I have heard 'experts' say that you should be using the fan even over electric stoves because regular cooking can create unnoticed combustion products that should be exhausted.

I am definitely not worried about such things in practice, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
posted by Chuckles at 12:44 AM on December 31, 2005

Use the hood to exhaust:


*Grease from cooking that will otherwise condense on all the other surfaces in your house.

It's the second one that sneaks up on you. You won't see the results of not venting the stuff outside for a long time, but once it's there, it's tough to get rid of. It can eventually start to smell, too.

Does your hood fan only have one speed?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:11 AM on December 31, 2005

I'm with Kirth. We throw the exhaust fan on anytime we cook on the (gas) range, because it's got a removeable filter and I've seen the grease that builds up on that thing. I don't want that on my walls.

I can see scarabic's point -- nobody likes to wake up to the smell of frying bacon more than me -- but on the other hand there's something vaguely trashy about walking into a quiet house in the middle of the day and being overwhelmed by the smell of last night's fried food.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:26 AM on December 31, 2005

Use the hood when you're cooking something greasy and aromatic.

Things you need a hood for:

  • Deep-frying (vaporized oil)
  • High-temperature searing (smoke)
  • Stir-frying (vaporized oil and smoke)
  • Indian cooking (the smell of the spices gets into everything)

    Food smells are great, and you wouldn't need to use the hood if you were just simmering a pot of soup or something, but I've never had a hood in my own home and it gets really frustrating when all of my clothes (in the kitchen, and in the adjoining rooms) have a greasy-frying-chicken smell after I cook something. Even frying something with a neutral flavor will vaporize a lot of oil, which will then settle on surfaces all around the stove and make them sticky and gross over time. Better to suck it up the vent first.

  • posted by rxrfrx at 5:48 AM on December 31, 2005

    Just a bit of clarification regarding hoods...This is true regarding venting the grease ONLY if your hood actually goes to the outside. I've seen a lot of pitiful hoods that just suck the stuff off the top of the stove and shoot them straight into a taller persons eyes. If you're just venting the grease/smoke off the stovetop and into the house, then it's better not to vent and just clean the grease when it settle, rather than degreasing the whole house.
    posted by bilabial at 8:01 AM on December 31, 2005

    As someone who has painted the walls of a few kitchens, I would recommend throwing on the fan when you cook with oils, maybe. Sometimes, I'd have to do MAJOR, MAJOR de-greasing before I could paint. Otherwise, the kitchen walls shed latex paint like water off a duck's back. They LOOK clean but... wow.
    posted by fireflies to stars at 1:11 PM on December 31, 2005

    Actually, most hoods incorporate a grease trap, even if they don't actually vent outdoors. It's worth using, even if tall people have to duck.

    The grease traps are best cleaned using a dishwashing machine.
    posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:37 PM on December 31, 2005

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