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Are Toaster Ovens Safe? – Learn the Risks Involved

Over time, toaster ovens have gained popularity, this is as a result of it being easy to use, portable and generally convenient.

In spite of all the user approvals and reviews, one cannot help but ask the question, “Are Toaster Ovens Safe?”

The short answer is a RESOUNDING Yes! Toaster ovens are completely safe when used according to instructions.

Accidents and hazards that occur through the use of toaster ovens are usually due to misuse of the appliance. 

A toaster oven is a great kitchen appliance with advanced safety measures – and like any other electric powered device, can experience some mechanical or electrical malfunctions on very rare occasions.

These malfunctions are usually the result of not using the Toaster Oven according to the instruction manual.

For example, connecting the toaster oven over a power extension cord / power outlet that does not support the required amperage can result in the power cable burning off.

When dealing with electrical machines, you can’t rule out a feasible risk. But rather observe the guidelines and instruction on the manuals.

Also Read: What is a Toaster Oven in Detail

Are Toaster Ovens Safe?

Breville Toaster Oven
Toaster Ovens are generally quite safe, however, their relatively small size as compared to conventional ovens results in quick heating which introduce different types of risks. Source: Breville

In order to answer this question in detail, let us look at some of the dangers involved. This will not only give you insight into the risks involved but also prepare you in how to deal with them.

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Dangers of Toaster Oven

Discussing the dangers of a toaster oven does not confirm it unsafe but instead gives an insight on how to identify and respond in case there is danger. The dangers of a toaster oven include:

1. Burns

Considering the level of heat that a toaster oven emanates, there is a potential risk of injury.

It can be quite difficult to remove items from a toaster oven without getting burned.

This could lead to painful blisters on the skin. Also, the outer part of some toaster oven tends to emit heat, which could cause burns when you accidentally come in contact with it.

Therefore, it is important that you prepare yourself with some insulated oven mittens before you touch the appliance.

Also Read: Best Toaster Ovens with French Doors

2. Fire

A lot of things can cause a toaster oven to catch fire. Some of these reasons are;

  • The use of inflammable material such as parchment papers
  • Accumulation of food particles at the bottom
  • Problem in design
  • The problem of electricity supply
  • Leaving something at a higher heat for a length of time.

All these reasons, while consequential, can be avoided if the instructions are followed.

Another issue related to fire is smoke. Sometimes, when a toaster oven is experiencing technical malfunctions, there could be exudation of fumes whenever the toaster oven is turned on.

One of the biggest causes of fires in the kitchen is”Careless Cooking”. According to Huntersville Fire Department, 33% of all home fires are attributed to unattended cooking.

Therefore, when using toaster ovens, make sure you are mindful of your cooking.

3. Explosion

Apart from fire, another danger that can be encountered is an explosion. A toaster oven can explode for so many reasons such as accumulation of pressurized air inside due to high heat.

Although the likelihood of an explosion is extremely low. When an explosion occurs, the glass door has been known to shatter.

Also Read: Best Small Convection Toaster Ovens

4. Electrical Shocks

Like any other electrical appliances, toaster ovens are likely to cause electrical shocks when touched with conductive substances like forks, knives or spoons.

They can also discharge heavy doses of electrical currents when doused with water or liquids either internally or externally.

For these reasons, it is important to keep the insides of the oven, dry at all times. Frayed cords and extension could also lead to electrical shocks on their own or when exposed to conductors.

Make sure you are grounded and you your home has sufficient earthing protection installed.

Safety Tips for Toaster Oven Hazard Prevention

As the saying goes, “it’s better to be safe than sorry”. Here are some safety tips to keep your mind at rest about your toaster oven.

  • Spend some time reading through your toaster oven instructional manual
  • Unplug your toaster ovens after use, establish that it is properly switched off and ensure that the plugs are properly secured
  • Make enough room around your toaster oven and secure any and all combustible materials such as paper, plastic, etc.
  • Always make use of a mitten when placing or removing objects from the oven.
  • If you are quite forgetful, to prevent fire hazards, look for a model with auto-shutoff at the end of a cooking circle.
  • Use toaster oven-safe bowls and utensils to prevent burns and scalds
  • Clean your toaster oven after use -only when your toaster oven is cool.
  • Place your toaster oven in a strategic location that is dry, stable and out of children’s reach.
  • Do no place your oven on a damp surface or close to running water to prevent splashes which could in turn cause surge in electrical current, fire or shocks.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher present in the kitchen at all times and make sure you know how to use it.

Also Read: What is Oven Self Clean Feature and the Risks Involved?

General “Don’ts” of a Toaster Oven

As we have established the safety measures needed for a hazard-free toaster oven, there are some common kitchen practices that need to be corrected.

  • Don’t use a toaster oven that has caught fire before.
  • Don’t cook in an open toaster oven; make sure its door is always closed.
  • Don’t use a toaster oven with frayed cords.
  • Don’t apply cleaner directly unto your oven. Apply first on a piece of clothing.
  • Never immerse your toaster oven into water.
  • Don’t clean your toaster oven while it’s connected to a power source.
  • Don’t use your toaster oven when it shoots sparks.
  • Don’t cover your crumb tray, especially with foil. This is because this leads to overheating which can result in a fire hazard.
  • Don’t overload your toaster oven power source with heavy-duty machines such as washing machines, dishwashers, etc.
  • Don’t leave your cooking unattended, set alarms and reminders if you have to.

Objects Unsafe For Toaster Oven Use

You can avoid a lot of risks by discarding the objects that are hazardous for toaster oven use.

You will realize that most of the objects that are safe for a normal oven ARE NOT SAFE for a toaster oven. This is because Toaster Ovens increase their temperature rapidly and the heating elements are very close to the food.

You can learn about about the difference between toaster ovens vs conventional ovens here.

The most common objects unsafe for Toaster Oven are as follows:

1. Glass Dishes

We all grew up learning to use glass dishes for cooking, broiling and/or baking.

Whether you can use a normal glass dish or microwave grade glass dish has been asked by plenty. However, the answer is generally the same, any type of glass dish must be avoided when using a toaster oven.

2. Parchment Paper

Are Toater Ovens Safe
While Parchment Paper is safe for use in a conventional oven, it is a fire hazard in toaster ovens. Source: Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Parchment paper is combustible. They should not be utilized in a toaster oven.

Instead, apply oil unto your baking pan or make use of a baking mat.

3. Aluminum Foil

Everyone uses aluminum foil to cook. In fact, the use of aluminum foil for cooking is adapted in some recipes and cookery books. Now begs the question, are aluminum foil safe for toaster oven use?

There are various arguments supporting the use of aluminum foil. But here’s a fact: Foil contains metal, and when the metal comes in contact with a hot heating element, it can cause a spark.

Sparks are hazardous and lead to fire, explosion or total damage of your toaster oven.

This is not a huge concern on larger ovens where there is a lot of room between heating elements and the food. In most toaster ovens, however, that is not the case.

Many have the habit of using aluminum foil for crumb trays. However, that is also a very dangerous fire hazard. Covering the crumb tray leads to overheating which can lead to a combustion.

4. Metals and Plastics

Although this is quite obvious, a lot of us unconsciously make this mistake in our homes. It’s critically unsafe to place plastic materials in our toaster ovens.

It will melt and as a result cause malfunctions. Metals too are a no-go.

Occasionally, we unconsciously use a metal fork as a cake tester. This is absolutely unsafe.

5. Ceramic Cups and Mugs 

Porcelain
When using ceramic, make sure it is oven safe. Source: Photo by Jean-Marc Vieregge on Unsplash

There are two types of ceramic: Bone chinas are those made with sand, clay, and earthenware which are not safe for oven use, while porcelain which is made of kaolin clay and stoneware are safer for oven use.

Figuring out the best ceramic wares for oven use requires you to have a knowledge of your manufactures guidelines.

Also Read: Best Toaster Ovens for 12 Inch Pizza

What to Do When Your Toaster Oven Catches Fire

Toaster ovens are miniature ovens that perform a lot of important tasks. But in cases whereby your toaster oven catches fire, here some helpful tips on what to do.

  • If the fire has not spread to the socket, unplug the toaster oven first
  • If the fire is significant, go to your home’s main circuit breaker and turn it off immediately.
  • Always have a working fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Alternatively, you can employ the use of a wet blanket.
  • When the fire is out, do not try reusing the toaster oven.

Conclusion

While here we generally looked at a very important question that many new buyers ask i.e “Are toaster ovens safe?”, the most important thing that you can do before using one is to read its instruction manual.

We simply cannot stress about this enough. READ THE MANUAL!

Your Toaster Oven’s instruction manual should talk about all the compatible materials, safety measures as well as uses in detail. If in doubt, contact your toaster manufacturer’s helpline.

All in all, Toaster Ovens are safe. They carry as much as risk as any other cooking appliance like stoves or microwave ovens. It is up to the user to perform the required effort in understanding the appropriate use to avoid any hazards.

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