Is Flour Flammable? What Makes Flour Explode?

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Flour is one of the most common substances to use for baking and cooking in general.

We use it as the foundation of making pies, cakes and puddings, so you might be mistaken for thinking that flour and heat are a marriage made in heaven. However, the reality of flour might surprise you.

If you put a naked flame near your flour, then you’ll soon see that it will explode upon contact. This is because flour is actually very flammable.

The main reason for this is that flour is a carbohydrate that is made up of sugars, so flour will act in much the same manner as marshmallows when held over an open flame.

So when should you avoid using flour and fire? How can you prevent flour from exploding in your face? How much flour do you need for a decent explosion? How can you keep safe when you are cooking with flour?

Well, if you want the answer to these flour-related questions and a whole lot more, then we would suggest that you keep reading. We have all the information that you need to keep your safe when you are baking in the kitchen. We’ll discuss whether you can put flour in the microwave and why flour is flammable in the first place.

The Big Question: Is Flour Flammable?

Contrary to what you might be expected to believe, flour is indeed flammable. Because it is a very sugary substance, it burns in much the same manner as sugar, that is, very quickly.

This is why you should keep flour away from naked flames. Simply put, one grain will burn another in one rapid sweep.

This is why flour is so good for baking – on a low heat and tempered with other ingredients , flour burns extremely well. You can be certain that you’ll have a completely warmed-through dish even when put on a medium flame.

Why Is Flour Flammable?

The reason why this flour is so easy to ignite is the sugar content. If you have ever burned sugar to a high degree, then you’ll know that it will melt extremely quickly. One of the worst burns that you can get is if you have burning or boiling sugar on your skin.

When handling flour, certain plants have to be very careful, as there have been over 100 explosions in flour factories since they first started being mass manufactured in 1924.

These grains burn instantly, so you’ll need to make sure that you are wearing gloves and safety goggles if handling flour at very high heat.

What Makes Flour Explode?

The reason that flour does not explode in the oven is that it is usually mixed in with wet ingredients such as egg, butter and cheese. This means that it is much more difficult for it to catch fire.

The reason that flour explodes is because of the number of sugar grains that it contains and the rapidity at which the flames spread.

This is why it is called an explosion, as the flames will spread through the flour very quickly. We wouldn’t recommend that you put raw flour in the microwave or oven by itself, as this will cause you a lot of damage.

Other sugar powders are similar as flammable as this, mainly cocoa powder, sugar and pudding mix. Again, this is because of the sugar content of all of these ingredients.

We would recommend that you prepare your cooking areas thoroughly before you place your flour near any heat.

If you burn sugar on a plate or glass tray, then you can expect it to basically fuse to the surface completely. We’ve tried burning sugar numerous times and have had to throw out numerous plates in the long term.

If you have ever watched the news and have heard of a grain explosion in a factory, then the likely cause of it will be that a naked flame has become introduced to the grains or the flour. In such large quantities, this can cause a really catastrophic explosion which has even resulted in a loss of life for some of the workers.

Can You Put Flour In The Microwave?

We would highly recommend against putting flour in the microwave or the oven. This is because microwaves burn sugar very quickly, which basically results in an explosion within a few seconds.

If you are going to put flour in the microwave as part of a meal, then make sure you mix in wetter ingredients first so that the mixture is not as flammable. If you are trying to make a recipe, then we would suggest that you mix in some butter, milk or maybe eggs before you start heating it.

Flour on its own is not really prone to exploding, so you won’t have to worry about storing it in the kitchen or in a warm place. We would also recommend that you keep your flour packet wrapped when you are not using it. This means that flour grains will not escape and get into an area where it might cause a fire.

How Can You Prevent Flour Exploding?

You should make sure that you keep your flour in a safe container, ideally one made from plastic or metal. Preserving your flour and keeping it away from heat sources will be the best method of preventing flour fires.

Our Final Say

We hope that our article on flour and its flammable properties will help you when you are next cooking a meal. If you have young children or teenagers that want to help you out in the kitchen, then you should make sure that you teach them about the flammable properties of flour before giving them any cooking tasks.

We would also recommend leaving your flour in the reach of animals, as they can digest large amounts of it, which will cause problems with their digestion.



About David

With over 12 years experience in the fire protection industry, David is our resident Fire Safety expert. He's also a plumber with years of experience in HVAC systems; welding extraordinaire and spends his weekends thinking up gardening projects.

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