Why do Pressure Cookers Explode? Possible Reasons + How to Avoid it?

Pressure cookers have been associated with accidents and damage for a long time. Modern pressure cookers are much better than their predecessors but they can still be dangerous if not handled with care. 

There are many reasons why a pressure cooker can explode. 

It could be a technical or an operational malfunction- a blockage in the valves or improper seal due to low-quality products, or a wrong operational technique. 

It could also be a manufacturing defect that could not be caught due to inadequate testing.

Let me divulge some of the finer details to help you understand how the explosion is caused by a pressure cooker.

Why does a Pressure Cooker Explode?

Pressure cookers use hot steam inside a locked lid to cook food fast.

When the water boils, it releases steam that gets accumulated inside the cooker. As steam increases, the temperature and pressure also increase. 

An explosion occurs when high-temperature steam that is under pressure is suddenly released by the pressure cooker pot.

The pressure cooker that is available now in the market must pass consumer testing standards. 

Protective measures include primary and secondary valves and lids that open up only when the pressure goes down.

Despite all the precautions, a pressure cooker can explode. Let us look into the possible reasons to find out more

Possible Causes of Pressure Cooker Explosion

Let’s looks at some of the possible cause that can lead to a pressure cooker to explode in your kitchen:

  1. When the primary and safety valves are blocked due to grease and old food particles, steam finds no pathway to release. It results in abnormally high pressure builds causing an explosion.
  2. If the gasket or lid latches are not sealed properly, high pressure and steam will force open the lid resulting in an explosion
  3. Knowing the right operational technique is equally important. Forcing open a pressure cooker before the steam is released or has died down can result in an explosion
  4. If the water dries out from a pressure cooker,  the gas and steam start to expand quickly burning and overheating the cooker. This can result in an explosion
  5. Defective or badly designed pressure release vents may allow the lid to open prematurely causing an explosion. 
  6. Safety mechanism failures in the form of latches or improper locking of the upper lid are dangerous and can cause an explosion.  
  7. Do not overfill your cooker. Overfilling can cause food to expand and foam, blocking the valves.
  8. Parts of an old cooker tend to wear and tear with time resulting in the breakdown of protective equipment and explosion
  9. When the sidewalls of the pressure cooker are licked by flame, it results in high temperature and pressure that may cause an explosion if the valves malfunction and do not vent out steam.
  10. In the case of traditional cookers, failure to adjust temperature and pressure can cause excessive pressure build-up and may cause the cooker to explode if the lid latches become loose.
  11. Do not use excessive amounts of oil in a pressure cooker. When oil becomes hot, it becomes difficult to handle and can melt the safety features. 

What happens when a pressure cooker explodes?

A pressure cooker can create a temperature 40 degrees hotter than the temperature point required to boil water. 

When the cooker explodes, it releases large amounts of boiling liquids and food contents. 

Steam is released with a tremendous amount of force that has the power to cause severe second and third-degree burns. It can also result in painful scalds in the skin.

The hot food ejected causes burns and scarring by sticking on the skin. 

Excessive pressure steam damages the kitchen causing glass and metal pieces to fly. It results in bleeding, cuts, and even blindness when the pieces hit the eye. 

If the lid or cooker ends up hitting on victim’s head, it causes brain injuries and concussion. The patient may end up losing consciousness along with fractured bones due to his fall.

The pressure is strong enough to shatter properties like walls, windows, cupboards, stovetops, and even ceilings. For real-life experiences from victims, filing a lawsuit, and watching a recorded video after a pressure cooker explosion, do visit this webpage.

How to avoid pressure cooker explosions? 

  • Check your pressure cooker thoroughly before purchasing. Watch out for the faulty gaskets, damaged valves, improper seals, and latches.
  • Do not let food or grease build up in your valves or gaskets. Choked up valves are a major cause of explosions 
  • Follow the booklet guide and let the steam vent out or die down before opening the pressure cooker 
  • Do not buy a cheap and locally made pressure cooker. Although the price might tempt you, the low-quality valves and gaskets are a recipe for disaster
  • It is also not a good idea to buy a second-hand branded pressure cooker.  This is because as time passes, the cooker is bound to go through normal wear and tear. The gasket can become loose and the valves are susceptible to frequent blockage.
  • The pressure cooker should not run out of water and get dry. Not only will your pot burn, but the temperature of the cooker will also become abnormally high causing an explosion. 
  • Deep frying in a pressure cooker is not recommended as improper handling of hot oil can result in an explosion 
  • Overfilling the pressure cooker can block the valves and gasket. Keep the cooker fill up to ⅔ and leave ⅓ empty. 
  • Improper sealing due to loose or faulty gaskets can lead to an explosion. Check for the gasket quality and position before closing the cooker. Lock the lids properly.
  • Read the list of recalled pressure cookers before purchasing any pressure cooker. 

Conclusion 

I hope I have been able to explain well why the pressure cooker explodes. I would highly recommend searching the brand well before purchasing the pressure cooker. 

Once you decide to use it, follow the manufacturing instructions on the correct operational technique

Keep an eye out for any food, grease, or dirt blockages in the valves and lid of the cooker and clean immediately

Go through the above checklist on all the possible causes and how to avoid pressure cooker explosions completely

Stay safe and I wish you all the best for a delicious cooking experience!

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Hey there! I'm Sasha, just your regular mom-turned-kitchen-appliances enthusiast. When I gave my kitchen a makeover, I took a shine to new kitchen appliances like Induction Cooktops, Air Fryer, Instant Pot, Microwave, and Oven. I'm always up to some fun experiment, whipping up a storm, and writing about common questions people have about the efficient use of these kitchen gadgets