Ask a Dumb Question: Fire Extinguishers vs. Flour

Q: I heard that instead of using a fire extinguisher, I can just use flour to put out kitchen fires. Am I an idiot for believing this?

A: You’re not an idiot, just…uninformed. “Flour can actually explode when put on a fire,” says Gabe Gurule, who works for the Corvallis Fire Department. “The easiest way to put a small cooking fire out is to put a lid on the pot or pan, turn off the [heat] element, and wait for the pan to cool before removing the lid.”

When people speak of kitchen fires, they’re usually talking about the fires that occur when cooking grease ignites on the stove or in the oven.

“In the case of a cooking fire, pouring water on the fire can cause a violent reaction where a fire extinguisher will live up to its name and put the fire out,” says Gurule. Fire extinguishers (the 2A10BC extinguisher is the standard) are good for all three types of fires that occur in the home: combustibles, electrical, and flammable liquids.

So yeah, cover all your bases and procure a fire extinguisher.

Our town may hold a record number of PhDs, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have dumb questions! If you have a burning question for an expert in Corvallis, just send it to: The Advocate will get it answered for you! (So you don’t have to ask it yourself.)

by Mica Habarad