14 January 2011

Is a self-cleaning oven safe?

This is what you might (literally) call a burning issue! Some people out there are worried about the potential of self-cleaning ovens to create toxic gases, so what’s the truth?

Self-cleaning ovens are a labour-saver, with a highly attractive process that allows you to skip the chemicals and elbow grease normally needed clean the inner walls.

Many people prefer the idea of a self-cleaner, to cut out the use of chemical solvents inside the oven, but while the risks of using a self-cleaning oven are limited, it is important to be aware of the potential hazards involved with one.

The process used is generally called pyrolytic decomposition cleaning, where the system superheats the oven to approximately 1,000 degrees F, at which point it oxidises and burns off any food detritus, sugar and grease deposits.

Most, if not all self-cleaning ovens, automatically lock during the process, and not just because of the chances of users being burnt. A lot of smoke and fumes are caused by the burning-off method, particularly from sugar residue and grease, releasing a small amount of toxic carbon monoxide. While the amount of Co2 is safe, it is wise to install a carbon monoxide tester and ventilate your kitchen in case of a malfunction.

Alternatives to the pyrolytic system include continuous cleaning ovens, where the oven inner is coated with a catalytic surface that helps break down residue over time thought oxidisation – again generating small amounts of Co2. Some steam ovens use a wet-soak cycle to loosen dirt, allowing easier manual removal.

Most importantly, whatever your system, read your manual very carefully and follow every step suggested. To minimise any chance of fire hazard, make sure you haven’t left anything inside the oven.

I must stress, there is NOT anything inherently dangerous about self-cleaning technology, but using that extra bit of care will make them even safer, and that has to be a good thing. However, if you are in any doubt, please give us a call – you know the number – 0800 747247.

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