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View Full Version : Can aluminum (tin) foil catch on Fire?


Alexlamf
05-07-2005, 12:26 PM
Hi all:
Recently someone told me not to cover the stove drip pans with aluminum foil, because it may catch on fire. Is this true?
I have an electric stove with over the top coil heating elements (2600watt 8") that can be pulled out to clean the drip pans. The aluminum foil is standard commercially available foil. Unlike pure quality aluminum which is highly reactive (used mainly in lab demos).
The conditions are that the stove is clean, so is the aluminum and that the heating element reaches a max of about 152 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit

Polycarp
05-07-2005, 12:46 PM
Aluminum immediately oxidizes on contact with air to form a ultra-thin, transparent, near-impermeable alumina coating to the bare metal. The temperature at which aluminum metal (as opposed to powder) will combust, if there is one, is well above anything available in households.

However, aluminum is highly conductive of heat, and so the drippings that inevitably collect in the drip pan may be heated to the combustion point by the aluminum lining conducting heat from the burner to them. That may be what "it will catch on fire" is intended to mean, since the effect is much the same.

Johnny L.A.
05-07-2005, 12:52 PM
However, aluminum is highly conductive of heat, and so the drippings that inevitably collect in the drip pan may be heated to the combustion point by the aluminum lining conducting heat from the burner to them. That may be what "it will catch on fire" is intended to mean, since the effect is much the same.
Sometimes I'll broil a steak in the oven, in a 'pan' that I make from foil. The grease from the steak will ignite, causing the foil to melt.

bizzwire
05-07-2005, 01:11 PM
However, aluminum is highly conductive of heat, and so the drippings that inevitably collect in the drip pan may be heated to the combustion point by the aluminum lining conducting heat from the burner to them. That may be what "it will catch on fire" is intended to mean, since the effect is much the same.

You could also argue that, being such a good conductor, the heat from the drippings is quickly reduced.


Here is the material safety data sheet on "Consumer/Foodservice use aluminum foil" from Alcoa (http://alcoa.com/global/en/environment/msds_view.asp?LoadMSDS=900061) (Warning: PDF). It says "Non-combustible as supplied," so I don't think you have much to worry about.

pool
05-07-2005, 03:19 PM
I'm pretty sure I recall an incident where I put aluminum foil in the microwave and it caught on fire.

mittu
05-07-2005, 03:51 PM
Metal and microwaves are a big no-no ;)

If you want to see a real fireworks show put a CD in a microwave (a microwave and CD you no longer want, they will both bite the big one to satiate your desire for fun).

bizzwire
05-08-2005, 11:42 AM
I'm pretty sure I recall an incident where I put aluminum foil in the microwave and it caught on fire.

It was arcing, not burning (Which I'll define as a self-sustaining process)

butler1850
05-09-2005, 11:25 AM
<snip>
The conditions are that the stove is clean, so is the aluminum and that the heating element reaches a max of about 152 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit

I'd hope your element, assuming a contact electric element, gets a whole lot hotter than 212F. That'd only boil clean water, at sea level. It'd never get a stew, soup, or anything I might cook up to a good rolling boil.

I don't know how hot they get, exactly, but it's enough to light a cigarette, so it has to be somewhere near 450F (as standard paper ignites at 451, from the name of the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

If you're looking to get a good set of reflectors, I'd go buy a set, rather than attempting to make your own.

Alexlamf
05-15-2005, 12:55 PM
I'd hope your element, assuming a contact electric element, gets a whole lot hotter than 212F. That'd only boil clean water, at sea level. It'd never get a stew, soup, or anything I might cook up to a good rolling boil.

I don't know how hot they get, exactly, but it's enough to light a cigarette, so it has to be somewhere near 450F (as standard paper ignites at 451, from the name of the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

If you're looking to get a good set of reflectors, I'd go buy a set, rather than attempting to make your own.

Hmm im not sure about how high in temperature my heating element can get in reality. I got those temperatures from GE online on a "heating element" replacement manual. They do get red hot tho, when heated at max.
Nope Im not planning on getting a set of reflectors, just wanted to know whether it can catch on fire by it-self.

Thanks All, for all your replies....

ouryL
05-15-2005, 01:57 PM
They tell not to be this because the foil in conjunction with oil or fat can catch fire more easily. Fats and oils that collect in the bottom of the bowl is less likely to vaporize and flame than it is if it is spread over a convoluted, multiple layered surface of the foil. :smack:

Ruby
05-15-2005, 04:05 PM
Anecdotally, I've used aluminum foil on my drip pans for years and have never had an incident of fire.

It would seem to me that if you didn't change the foil when the gunk started to collect, then you may ignite the gunk but that doesn't have anything to do with using foil.

I've also used foil in an oven under pans, over turkeys, and as a baking sheet for cookies and have never had an incident of failure of the aluminum.

sewalk
05-15-2005, 06:02 PM
That may be what "it will catch on fire" is intended to mean, since the effect is much the same.
Actually, the effect would be quite different. Burning aluminum would be much more hazardous than burning fat. Nonetheless, no household oven should ever be capable of generating enough heat to ignite aluminum.

danceswithcats
05-15-2005, 07:01 PM
FWIW, NIOSH states the following about Alumnium Metal: Melts @ 1220F, no flash or ignition point listed. It is a combustible solid, and finely divided dust is easily ignited. Incompatibilities and reactivities listed are: Strong oxidizers & acids, halogenated hydrocarbons.

picunurse
05-15-2005, 08:02 PM
Why line them anyway? I wash mine with the dishes every time I cook. I have to, my husband thinks the range is a counter top. I never know what odd brew is waiting for me, and burning peanut butter and plastic milk jug rings don't leave your kitchen smelling spring fresh. :rolleyes: If only I'd sent him to obedience school, like his mother suggested..

Karina82
02-21-2017, 03:25 AM
I just had a mini fire at home. Aluminium pans that are empty can catch on fire. They can catch on fire on open flames. Our was in the broiler. It catches on so quick. Be careful

Isilder
02-21-2017, 07:43 AM
I just had a mini fire at home. Aluminium pans that are empty can catch on fire. They can catch on fire on open flames. Our was in the broiler. It catches on so quick. Be careful

No. Aluminium pans that are purely aluminium will not be ignited by range tops, broilers, baking ovens, toasting ovens...

What you may have burning is a plastic coated tray, or a cake tray made with foil and cardboard, or some other sort of composite (not pure aluminium ) material.

That said, aluminium in a glowing hot fire will decay slowly, so too the hottest range top or oven elements that are basically steel glowing red hot are going to decay the aluminium slowly.

Chronos
02-21-2017, 08:46 AM
Quoth danceswithcats of twelve years ago:

FWIW, NIOSH states the following about Alumnium Metal: Melts @ 1220F,...
Which is just about "red-hot" temperature, so it's quite plausible that aluminum in contact with a stove burner might melt. Which would probably make rather a mess.

california jobcase
02-21-2017, 10:14 PM
I kept aluminum foil on stove drip pans for years. It never caught fire. As others have mentioned, other gunk (fat, usually) will catch fire in drip pans if allowed to accumulate, but this will happen with or without covering the pans in foil. The reason I used the foil was to keep the pans from rusting out and getting ugly so fast. I never could find any on which the chrome finish was worth a hoot.

If you're form-fitting the foil to the pans and are making sure the foil can't touch the contacts of the element, you shouldn't have any problems.

TSBG
02-22-2017, 08:17 PM
I've thrown foil-wrapped potatoes in a charcoal fire and had the aluminum "burn through"--there were clear holes in it. I did not see signs of melted metal though. What happened? Or did I hallucinate?

Mr. Duality
02-22-2017, 08:53 PM
They stopped making warship superstructures from aluminum because it was learned the hard way that aluminum WILL BURN if hit by an exocet missile or the equivalent.

jsc1953
02-24-2017, 02:21 PM
Every year when I go camping, I find a wad of aluminum foil in our fire pit left by the previous occupant. So a lot of people are lazy slobs and seem to think that aluminum foil will burn.

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