Though not everyone likes it, mayonnaise can be a wonderful thing. As long as it’s freshly made and eaten straight after preparation, it adds a creamy, buttery taste to many dishes and it may be a bit healthier than butter too. However, one thing that we’ve never seen is a flaming mayonnaise sandwich, but does that mean that mayonnaise doesn’t burn, or should we watch the naked flames around our sandwiches?
Mayonnaise is flammable. It is essentially a type of cooking oil. Most cooking oils will catch fire fairly easily, though the exact temperature will vary. Mayonnaise can catch fire and burn.
Lets take a look at what mayonnaise actually is, what makes it flammable and how that effect you. Check it out.
Your # 1 priority is keeping your family safe. As a firefighter, I recommend everyone has updated smoke detectors that don’t require battery changes, like these ones from Kidde, a fire extinguisher, like this one from Amerex, and a fire escape ladder if you have bedrooms above the first floor, I recommend this one from Hausse.
Also read: What Makes Something Flammable?
Table of Contents
What Is Mayonnaise? (Chemically)
Mayonnaise is a tasty spread made of oil, egg yolk, and either a little lemon juice and/or vinegar.
You can make nearly endless varieties of mayonnaise with enough time and patience.
It’s worth noting that for the purposes of this article, we are considering traditional egg-based mayonnaise, while there are new versions of mayo for vegans and those with cholesterol problems – we don’t have the data on the flammability of mayonnaise with egg substitutes.
We would tend to assume that they are probably a little less flammable than an egg mayonnaise, but we can’t support that with hard data and thus, we would say – you are best to treat vegan mayonnaise as though it is every bit as flammable as an ordinary mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise is a relatively recent invention, as far as we can tell, and it appears to have originated in 18th century France though it’s certainly not the first emulsified sauce (that is bits of fat floating in a solution of other things), which date back, at least, to the 14th century.
The emulsifying agent in mayonnaise are lecithin, the fat in the egg, and egg proteins.
And while mayonnaise may, originally, be French it is used throughout the world now in nearly every cooking culture.
The ratio of ingredients is normally about 80% oil, 8% water, 6% egg and the rest is vinegar/lemon juice, salt, and sometimes a little sugar and yes, mayonnaise is very calorific thanks to all the oil.
Also read: Is Vinegar Flammable? Can it Catch Fire?
Is It Ever Flammable?
Yes! Mayonnaise is flammable as it is essentially cooking oil and as we all know, cooking oil is easy to set fire to. It may require higher temperatures to ignite than some other flammable oils.
From a user’s viewpoint, this technical distinction is not really worth very much and it’s important to try and keep mayonnaise away from naked flames in the kitchen.
Also read: Is Rice Flammable? Can It Start a Fire?
Can You Burn Mayo?
Yes, you very much can burn mayonnaise.
In fact, mayonnaise burns so well that it’s worth making a video of and the YouTube channel below has done just that:
We should note at this point that not only will mayonnaise burn, but because it is oil, if you get burning mayo on your skin or clothes – it will be very hard to get off and may cause serious injuries.
It really is best not to set your mayonnaise on fire, if you can help it and if it does catch fire – you should treat it in the same way as any other kind of oil fire and only tackle the blaze if you feel confident to do so.
We would note that there appears to be some bad advice circulating out there that advises you to use mayonnaise to cover minor burns.
Don’t do this. Please.
In reality, grease is more likely to make the burn worse and it may also help clothing or other material to stick to the burn, which can cause even more damage in the long run.
Of course, if the burn appears to be serious – you should also seek medical attention.
Also read: Is Olive Oil Flammable? Can it Catch Fire?
Should You Burn It When Grilling?
No, while the Los Angeles Times does, indeed, encourage people to use mayonnaise while grilling, it recommends lightly brushing the meat you will cook in it and adding it to the potato salad.
This isn’t to burn the mayonnaise, but to prevent the meat from sticking to the rack of the grill and because mayonnaise tastes great in a potato salad.
Burning mayonnaise will not improve the flavor of your dish (burned oil is generally unpleasant tasting) but it might cause you an injury, please don’t do it.
Also read: Is Honey Flammable? Will it Catch Fire?
Does It Burn More Easily Than Butter?
Mayonnaise has a slightly higher “smoke point” than butter and that means it won’t burn as easily when cooking on higher heat.
It’s a good reason to put mayo on your grilled cheese sandwiches in preference to butter.
What’s The Boiling Point?
Mayonnaise would boil at the boiling point of the cooking oil that it’s based on – around 570 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the yolks would curdle and cook through at around 190 degrees, leaving nothing but oil to boil off.
What’s The Flashpoint?
Mayonnaise doesn’t have a flashpoint, but rather a smoke point and that is around 450 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on the exact nature of the mayonnaise – this may vary substantially, so be careful of taking this figure as anything more than a guideline).