Why Does My Oven Smoke? 7 Possible Reasons!

The reason for smoke could be as mild as a residual food particle burn that is charring up.

At worst, it may be an alarm for oven failure and fire. There can be many reasons why your oven smokes. Read on to find out more.

The smoke alters the taste and smell of food. It can also irritate people and pets at home with respiratory conditions. 

A smoking oven is not a good sign. You need to find out the cause and fix it up accordingly.  Allow me to explain the causes in detail.

What Causes the Oven to Smoke?

Smoke coming out of the oven is not an uncommon problem. It can occur in any oven at any time. Your oven could be gas or electric, new or old. 

It may be cooking with food inside or be at any operational setting like preheating, self-clean, broiling, etc. 

To cure the smoke issue, you need to find out about your oven and the circumstances that started the smoke. 

Here are a few common causes of a smoking oven and their cure : 

The Factory Coating Is Burning Off 

This is quite common in brand new ovens. 

You are likely to see smoke a couple of times while operating your oven. 

What happens is that new heating elements are coated with an oil-based factory coating. This coating burns off gradually when the elements are heated, giving off smoke. 

Most manufacturers recommend burning the coating by operating an empty oven once or twice before using it for food. 

This is because the smoke lends a burnt flavor to the food inside the oven. 

The booklet provided with the oven usually specifies the recommended temperature to use for ” burning off” the factory oil coating on the heating elements. 

Turn on your new oven and set the knob to “bake”

The recommended temperatures may range anywhere from 400 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Do this for half an hour once or twice till you no longer see any smoke coming out. Your oven is now ready to use for cooking/baking or broiling food.

Baked on Food Residues

This is another common reason for your smokey oven. The food particles stuck inside the oven burn off emitting smoke. 

We often forget to clean the fallen food particles. This results in gradual building up that gets stuck or ‘baked’ on the oven surface due to repeated heat exposure.

These burn off producing smoke. 

Residual food particles are the most common cause of smoking.  Always wipe clean the fallen food particles and debris.

Do not leave it for later on or they can become quite stubborn and get baked on, eventually burning off during repeated oven usage. 

In the worst-case scenario, a lot of gunk can flame up creating fire!

Use baking sheets to put underneath your food. Use a dripping tray underneath your raw food. 

Splattered food and grease should always be wiped clean on the floor of the oven, the roof, and the side walls. 

To stop the smoke, turn your oven off. Let it cool down and then remove the large burnt debris with the help of tongs. 

If a small fire is started, immediately shut down your oven and use a fire extinguisher or a large amount of smoke.

Clean the rest of the area with baking soda solution and lemon/vinegar. 

The Cleaning Agent Residue Burning Off

This happens when you use a commercial oven cleaning solution. The residues from the solvent solution burn off emitting smoke. 

I would highly encourage you to skip out the chemical cleaning solutions for oven cleaning.

Not only do they smoke, but they can damage the inner enamel lining of the oven chamber. And don’t forget the offensive smell of chemical burns that can put anyone off. 

Use a homemade solution of baking soda or vinegar. You can also use the self-cleaning option once in a while if you have it in your oven settings. 

Turn off your oven and let it cool down. Take a wet kitchen towel and carefully wipe off all the surfaces of the oven including racks. 

Self-Cleaning Operation Going On 

An oven can emit a lot of smoke during the self-cleaning mode. 

This happens due to the leftover food particles burning up when exposed to intense heat.

These burn off producing smoke according to their quantity. A lot of leftover food can release a lot of smoke. 

To reduce the smoke emission, clean up your oven with a wet cloth before starting the self-cleaning cycle.

You can also shut down the oven in between the self-cleaning operation. Let your oven cool down.

Open up and clean away the removable gunk. Now, start the self-cleaning setting again for a shorter duration. 

The Heating Elements Have Turned Faulty 

The heating elements may turn short and burn to produce smoke to you a give warning before dying out.

The smoke here may be accompanied by an electric buzzing sound. 

Excessive collection of cobwebs, dust, and food gunk restricts the heating element from smooth airflow and heat transfer.

This in turn decreases the operating capacity of the heating element. 

The heating element wears out due to overheating. The best thing you can do is clean the heating elements once they have cooled down. 

Do this with a non-metallic oven scraper. 

If your elements have turned faulty, they will no longer glow like before and need to be replaced. 

Frequent exposure to the self-cleaning cycle can also short heating elements due to repeated intense heat build-ups.  

Try to use the self-cleaning operation sparingly and keep your oven clean as soon as you see food and grease spills.

When needed, use homemade solutions of baking soda and lemon or vinegar. 

The Pressure of the Gas Is High 

This happens in a gas oven. When the pressure turns high, the flames start reaching the racks. This produces a good amount of smoke. 

Higher the pressure, the taller the flames that can lead to an oven fire! 

Call in customer care to reduce the amount of gas pressure. Adjust the height of the flames to low and your oven will stop smoking. 

Wrong Positioning of Food 

The food placement can be a cause for your oven to smoke. 

This is especially true when you are broiling or baking food high in fat content. 

Food placed too near the top or bottom of the element can smoke, scorch and even combust.

For broiling, keep food at least three inches away from the broiling element on the roof of the oven. 

For baking, keep food three inches away from the bottom heating element/gas flame.

Place a drip pan to avoid drips on the heating element/gas flame on the bottom of the oven. Falling grease while roasting can cause a fire inside the oven. 

Tips to Avoid a Smoking Oven

  • Use baking sheets and drip pans underneath to catch drips and falling food particles
  • Do not place pizza and steaks directly on the rack. Use baking or broiling or steak pans to place them
  • Remove melted aluminum as soon as you spot it inside the oven. 
  • Do not place any mats or sheets covering the holes in the bottom of your gas oven 
  • Avoid placing high-fat food too near the heating elements. They can burn and even catch fire. Keep a distance of three inches between the top and bottom heating elements(flame burner in case of gas ovens) and your food.
  • Wipe out the walls, roof, and bottom with a wet cloth followed by a dry wipe after every oven use. 
  • Clean your oven with baking soda or vinegar every month. 
  • Remove the racks and wash them down separately with warm soapy water.
  • Use the self-cleaning function sparingly. If possible, use it only five to six times a year.

Conclusion 

As you now know, there can be many reasons for a smokey oven. 

You have to find out the cause by analyzing your oven and fixing it up accordingly.

The cause can be anything from a food particle residue burning up to a faulty heating element. It could even be the way you have placed your food inside.

Place high-fat food at a gap of three inches from the broiling element above and the baking element underneath. Catch drips with drip trays.

In the case of gas ovens, high pressure released from the gas valve is the culprit. New ovens tend to smoke until the factory oil coating burns away. 

Avoid using chemical solutions to clean your oven. They tend to leave residues that burn out and give off smoke. 

Frequent self-cleaning can also put a load on the heating element, causing it to die out due to overheating. 

Whatever be the case, take a deep breath and switch off the oven.

Let it cool down for a bit and then wipe up the insides of the oven thoroughly with a wet cloth. Use scrappers to remove the stuck-on gunk.

Keep your oven clean and wipe away all the residual food and grease. Restart your oven and continue baking.

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