How common are/were pressure cooker explosions(while cooking)?

In this thread, several posters have recounted stories of pressure cooker explosions that happened while cooking. In India at least, pressure cookers are used very widely(for cooking), and I’ve never heard of an incident where the pressure cooker blew up. I’m positive that explosive failure of relatively modern pressure cookers (say from 1990 onward? Maybe earlier?) must be a vanishingly rare occurrence. What’s the straight dope?

Pretty hard with modern ones. Mine has a regular pressure release valve (which is possibly to clog or malfunction), a second back-up release valve (again, possible to clog, but pretty unlikely to do at the same time as the first), and if both of those fail, it’s built so that the rubber gasket keeps in cooking pressures, but higher pressure will push the gasket out of its seating, allowing the pressure to escape. That last fail-safe would be really hard to clog or or malfunction.

Now, you can certainly burn yourself with the steam pretty easily, if you’re careless. And while there’s an interlock for the lid that only releases when the pressure equalizes, if you really work at it, you can probably manage to get the top open before all the pressure is released, which spews food all over the place. So I’m not saying pressure cookers are suitable for toddlers, but it’s pretty unlikely to have a full-blown explosion. Finally, you could certainly cause problems if you left the stove on and walked away, but that’s true of any kind of cooking pot.

In the other thread, someone pointed out how many older cookers were designed to that (especially after a little wear) the lids could fairly easily pop off at high pressure. I bet a lot of ‘explosions’ were not actually having the pot rupture, but just the lid popping off at pressure (which would still throw hotter-than-boiling food, water and steam everywhere, so nothing I’d like to experience, but not really an explosion in the sense of flying chunks of metal everywhere).

So how are you supposed to cook them?

I use a large microwave oven. Just shove real hard. :smiley:

I have a pressure cooker that’s 40-45 years old. It has a steam vent in the lid that the pressure thingie perches on (leave off thingie for mere steaming rather than pressure cooking).

The safety valve is a smallish hole in the lid plugged by some low-melting-point-type solder.

I cooked plenty of stews and steamed vegetables in it with no problems. If I got a new rubber gasket for it, I’d use it again without worry.

For the record, it is a Mirro M-0404 (four-quart, aluminum, flanged interlock of lid and pot) with one pressure only (canning pressure cookers typically have a multiple-choice pressure thingie) – pretty much the smallest, simplest, and cheapest model.

As I mentioned in the other thread I think pressure cooker explosions are like Korean Fan Death, a cultural phenomenon. Lids blowing off can happen, that’s a safety feature, but even that requires misuse and inattention.

The basic info I provided in the other thread:

Another point, the main reason a release valve gets clogged up is from foaming or overfilling the cooker. Never fill the pot more than halfway, and soak beans and the like before hand to get some of the starch out and prevent foaming.

And as hard as you try to screw up, it’s still very difficult to get a pressure cooker with a relief system to blow up.

Is there such a thing as a pressure cooker designed for use in a microwave oven?

It happened to a family member, but it happened because of a boneheaded mistake. The pressure cooker itself didn’t blow up, but the jars of carrots inside did.
The pressure cooker, after cooking for a good long time, dried up of water. This person removed the lid, and added tap water to the cooker. The hot jars inside didn’t appreciate the sudden temperature change, and voiced their displeasure by expolding, showering broken glass and hot carrot goop on the walls, floor, and ceiling. (…and bystanders.)


Kewl! (The hotter the kewler!)

Anybody have experience with this or any similar microwave pressure cooker? Do they really work well?

I think people use them in RVs where all they have is a microwave.

The lid doesn’t blow off. Instead, a safety valve/plug blows, which releases the pressure in a (semi) safe way. Typically a bit of a mess, but no shrapnel, no injuries - except possibly to someone hovering over the device when it happens to blow.

Some units are designed deform and the top will come off, but the hitting the ceiling type of thing only happens with old units with only the single outlet when it gets clogged. Modern ones will just shoot a bunch of steam out as the pot deforms, and sometime the lid will pop open. This is common for aluminum pots. Other types have a pressure lock lid and the lid will never come off, but all of them should now have secondary relief mechanisms.

As a kid in the 60’s and 70’s, mom had a pressure cooker boiling peanuts go rogue. The police were soon knocking at the door.

So no statistics then? (They’re what I was hoping for)

FromNational Fire Protection Association

That doesn’t categorize the type of accident. They all could be burns from controlled steam release or touching the hot cooker.

We use them all the time to heat rations in the field, never had an explosion (and I know some soldiers that would certainly try to blow them up, if possible).

Thanks. That’s true. Still a fairly high proportion.

“A young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.”

I used to find an excuse run out of the house when ever mom and dad fired up their pressure cooker. That damn thing was downright scary to be around. If that’s what it took to make pot roast edible I didn’t want anything to do with it.