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  #1  
Old 05-07-2005, 12:26 PM
Alexlamf Alexlamf is offline
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Can aluminum (tin) foil catch on Fire?

Hi all:
Recently someone told me not to cover the stove drip pans with aluminum foil, because it may catch on fire. Is this true?
I have an electric stove with over the top coil heating elements (2600watt 8") that can be pulled out to clean the drip pans. The aluminum foil is standard commercially available foil. Unlike pure quality aluminum which is highly reactive (used mainly in lab demos).
The conditions are that the stove is clean, so is the aluminum and that the heating element reaches a max of about 152 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit
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  #2  
Old 05-07-2005, 12:46 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Aluminum immediately oxidizes on contact with air to form a ultra-thin, transparent, near-impermeable alumina coating to the bare metal. The temperature at which aluminum metal (as opposed to powder) will combust, if there is one, is well above anything available in households.

However, aluminum is highly conductive of heat, and so the drippings that inevitably collect in the drip pan may be heated to the combustion point by the aluminum lining conducting heat from the burner to them. That may be what "it will catch on fire" is intended to mean, since the effect is much the same.
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Old 05-07-2005, 12:52 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polycarp
However, aluminum is highly conductive of heat, and so the drippings that inevitably collect in the drip pan may be heated to the combustion point by the aluminum lining conducting heat from the burner to them. That may be what "it will catch on fire" is intended to mean, since the effect is much the same.
Sometimes I'll broil a steak in the oven, in a 'pan' that I make from foil. The grease from the steak will ignite, causing the foil to melt.
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Old 05-07-2005, 01:11 PM
bizzwire bizzwire is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polycarp
However, aluminum is highly conductive of heat, and so the drippings that inevitably collect in the drip pan may be heated to the combustion point by the aluminum lining conducting heat from the burner to them. That may be what "it will catch on fire" is intended to mean, since the effect is much the same.
You could also argue that, being such a good conductor, the heat from the drippings is quickly reduced.


Here is the material safety data sheet on "Consumer/Foodservice use aluminum foil" from Alcoa (Warning: PDF). It says "Non-combustible as supplied," so I don't think you have much to worry about.
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Old 05-07-2005, 03:19 PM
pool pool is offline
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I'm pretty sure I recall an incident where I put aluminum foil in the microwave and it caught on fire.
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  #6  
Old 05-07-2005, 03:51 PM
mittu mittu is offline
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Metal and microwaves are a big no-no

If you want to see a real fireworks show put a CD in a microwave (a microwave and CD you no longer want, they will both bite the big one to satiate your desire for fun).
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Old 05-08-2005, 11:42 AM
bizzwire bizzwire is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pool
I'm pretty sure I recall an incident where I put aluminum foil in the microwave and it caught on fire.
It was arcing, not burning (Which I'll define as a self-sustaining process)
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Old 05-09-2005, 11:25 AM
butler1850 butler1850 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexlamf
<snip>
The conditions are that the stove is clean, so is the aluminum and that the heating element reaches a max of about 152 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit
I'd hope your element, assuming a contact electric element, gets a whole lot hotter than 212F. That'd only boil clean water, at sea level. It'd never get a stew, soup, or anything I might cook up to a good rolling boil.

I don't know how hot they get, exactly, but it's enough to light a cigarette, so it has to be somewhere near 450F (as standard paper ignites at 451, from the name of the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

If you're looking to get a good set of reflectors, I'd go buy a set, rather than attempting to make your own.
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Old 05-15-2005, 12:55 PM
Alexlamf Alexlamf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by butler1850
I'd hope your element, assuming a contact electric element, gets a whole lot hotter than 212F. That'd only boil clean water, at sea level. It'd never get a stew, soup, or anything I might cook up to a good rolling boil.

I don't know how hot they get, exactly, but it's enough to light a cigarette, so it has to be somewhere near 450F (as standard paper ignites at 451, from the name of the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

If you're looking to get a good set of reflectors, I'd go buy a set, rather than attempting to make your own.
Hmm im not sure about how high in temperature my heating element can get in reality. I got those temperatures from GE online on a "heating element" replacement manual. They do get red hot tho, when heated at max.
Nope Im not planning on getting a set of reflectors, just wanted to know whether it can catch on fire by it-self.

Thanks All, for all your replies....
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  #10  
Old 05-15-2005, 01:57 PM
ouryL ouryL is offline
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They tell not to be this because the foil in conjunction with oil or fat can catch fire more easily. Fats and oils that collect in the bottom of the bowl is less likely to vaporize and flame than it is if it is spread over a convoluted, multiple layered surface of the foil.
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  #11  
Old 05-15-2005, 04:05 PM
Ruby Ruby is offline
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Anecdotally, I've used aluminum foil on my drip pans for years and have never had an incident of fire.

It would seem to me that if you didn't change the foil when the gunk started to collect, then you may ignite the gunk but that doesn't have anything to do with using foil.

I've also used foil in an oven under pans, over turkeys, and as a baking sheet for cookies and have never had an incident of failure of the aluminum.
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  #12  
Old 05-15-2005, 06:02 PM
sewalk sewalk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polycarp
That may be what "it will catch on fire" is intended to mean, since the effect is much the same.
Actually , the effect would be quite different. Burning aluminum would be much more hazardous than burning fat. Nonetheless, no household oven should ever be capable of generating enough heat to ignite aluminum.
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  #13  
Old 05-15-2005, 07:01 PM
danceswithcats danceswithcats is offline
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FWIW, NIOSH states the following about Alumnium Metal: Melts @ 1220F, no flash or ignition point listed. It is a combustible solid, and finely divided dust is easily ignited. Incompatibilities and reactivities listed are: Strong oxidizers & acids, halogenated hydrocarbons.
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  #14  
Old 05-15-2005, 08:02 PM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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Why line them anyway? I wash mine with the dishes every time I cook. I have to, my husband thinks the range is a counter top. I never know what odd brew is waiting for me, and burning peanut butter and plastic milk jug rings don't leave your kitchen smelling spring fresh. If only I'd sent him to obedience school, like his mother suggested..
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