Rice is the preferred carbohydrate of billions of people. There are dozens of cuisines that simply couldn’t exist without rice to pair with the flavors and sauces of that school of cookery. It’s cheap, tasty, and filling. However, many people are concerned that rice might be a fire hazard in their kitchen, are they right?
Rice can catch fire but is not very flammable. It requires high temperatures in order to ignite. With high enough temperatures, most things will burn, including rice. However, rice will not catch fire at low temperatures.
Here’s what you need to know about rice when it comes to flammability and fire safety. Take a look.
Also read: What Makes Something Flammable?
Table of Contents
What Is Rice?
Rice is a seed from one of two species of grass. There’s Oryza sativa which is Asian Rice and Oryza glaberrima which is African rice.
Rice is the number one staple food on the planet for billions of people and, by far, the most consumed carbohydrate.
It is also the third most commonly produced agricultural product on the planet, after only maize and sugarcane. Yet, much of the maize and sugarcane crops are used for things that don’t include human consumption – rice is grown only for human consumption.
Thus, rice is the world’s most important food crop. 20% of all calories consumed by the population of the world today, and every other day, will come in the form of rice!
It can be grown almost anywhere, and it is common amongst nearly all cultures of the world, despite originating in Asia and Africa.
Rice tends to be separated by grain length before it is sold into the world’s kitchens. Long grain rice is used almost exclusively for savory dishes and short grain rice for desserts. Medium-grained rice can be used for both.
Also read: Is Cornstarch Flammable? Will it Catch Fire?
Is It Ever Flammable?
We supposed the important question here is: is the rice cooked or not and if so, is it freshly cooked?
Rice is boiled to cook it and that means the cooking process adds a lot of water to rice. It’s always hard to burn anything that’s wet and wet rice is only going to burn if you dry out most, if not all, of the water.
Rice which has been cooked and sat around for a day or two, on the other hand, is likely to have dried out, at least a bit, and is going to be easier to burn.
“Fresh” dry rice is going to be the easiest to burn and yet, it’s not that easy to burn. Though it is a carbohydrate, it’s quite a complex carbohydrate and it won’t just catch fire because you wave a match at it.
Now, it is possible for rice dust to come into contact with a kitchen burner at that heat (or above) and catch fire, but assuming you’re not working with tons of rice, it’s very unlikely to happen or for there to be enough dust around to sustain a fire.
So, we have to conclude that rice is not flammable, but it combustible.
However, in most kitchens, the only time you will burn rice is if you fail to put enough water in the pot to cook it with and allow the put to boil dry and even then, most chefs will tell you – you only burn the rice in contact with the bottom of the pot.
If you work in a rice warehouse, however, then you should be very cautious of potential rice dust fires, as they can be explosive.
Also read: Is Olive Oil Flammable? Can it Catch Fire?
Can You Use Rice To Put Out A Fire?
Rice could potentially put out some fires but smothering out the oxygen, however, because rice can catch fire, there are much better options.
We’ve read people claiming that rice is a good way to put out a fire. We’d humbly disagree.
Sure, if you had a small fire, say in a trash can, and you quickly dumped a pan of fresh rice on it – the water content would, probably, extinguish that fire.
But as we’ve already determined – rice is combustible, and it will burn. That means, in general, if you dump rice onto a fire, you’re more likely to be giving fuel to that fire than you are to put it out.
So, please don’t use rice as a substitute for a fire extinguisher.
It could get you into real trouble and even burn the place down around you.
What About Beans?
No, under most circumstances it would be pretty hard to burn beans because they tend to have fairly high water content.
As with pretty much anything, if you were to evaporate off all the water content, then beans would be combustible, but they aren’t flammable normally.
Also read: Why Are Doritos Flammable? Let’s See…
Are There Any Other Flammable Foods?
Yes, there are foods that can catch fire easily and they all seem to revolve around a similar theme – they are being cooked in oil of some kind or form fine powders.
- Garlic can catch fire because it produces its own oil
- Bacon will also leak fat which becomes oil as it cooks, removing this oil between batches keeps fire risks low
- Stuffed peppers can end up breaking open and the oil inside sprays all over the place
- Flour dust is more explosive than rice dust by a fair margin (as is powdered sugar)
And of course, anything with alcohol in it is a little risky.
However, did you know that you can make use of this property when it comes to butter and make your own candles from it?