Are Instant Pots Safe? Thanks to the improvements found in recent models, Instant Pots are convenient and safe appliances to use in your home, but there are some precautions you need to take to avoid Instant Pot accidents.
If you are new to Instant Pot safety and would like to know how to avoid common mistakes, we are here to help. If you’ve had an accident with an Instant Pot, or are afraid you will have one, read on to find out how to keep this from happening in the future.
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Really, Instant Pots are incredibly safe devices that can be used without fear or worry of burning yourself or causing an explosion, although it’s difficult to tell yourself that when you’re worried.
Put your mind at ease. Let’s cover why certain accidents happen and the most common mistakes you can avoid when cooking with Instant Pots.
Why Most Instant Pot Accidents Happen
While Instant Pots perform the function of a pressure cooker, they use a slightly lower pressure of 10 to 12 psi. This reduced pressure, along with dozens of modern Instant Pot safety features, means you have very little to worry about.
However, without the proper precautions, you could face one of the accidents listed below. So educate yourself now to avoid an incident later.
- Faulty machine
- Improper care
- Filled too full
- Seal is broken
- Pressure valve is blocked
- Attempting to open when under pressure
- Opening the pot too soon when it contains hot liquid
- Unsafe containers were used (see what pots are okay to use in the Instant Pot)
Instant Pot Mistakes to Avoid
1. Overfilling the Pot
Even when following a recipe, it is possible to overfill your Instant Pot. Some ingredients, like rice, expand during the cooking process, and can become too much for the pot to hold.
When there isn’t enough space inside, as the Instant Pot builds pressure, food can inadvertently block the pressure release valve. The steam release valve is one of the pressure cooker’s main safety systems and any obstruction could cause it to fail, which can cause a host of other problems.
How to Avoid This
It is important to be mindful of the max fill line and to think ahead when filling the pot. Overfilling an Instant Pot leads to a build-up of excess pressure and can cause a blocked pressure release valve.
If the food you put in will not expand, you can fill it to the max line with water. However, if there are elements in the pot that will expand, you cannot fill with liquid to the line or the pot will become overfilled when the food expands.
As a rule of thumb, fill the pot no more than two-thirds full with food, but only fill halfway if cooking liquids or any foods that expand.
2. Blocking the Steam Release Valves
Aside from filling the pot too full so that there isn’t ample room for expansion, there are other ways you could block the steam release valve and cause issues.
If you haven’t cleaned the parts well enough, food debris can make its way into your steam release valve. Luckily there is a safety mechanism for preventing this – the anti-block shield. The anti-block shield is meant to prevent food from entering the steam release valve, but several things can go wrong.
One is that you’ve forgotten to put it back on after removing it to clean it. If the shield is missing, the exhaust valve and the float valve are more likely to become blocked.
Another issue is that you haven’t properly maintained it.
How to Avoid This
The anti-block shield should be removed and cleaned after each use, especially after making foods that splatter, like soups.
Once cleaned, always put the anti-block shield back on immediately, so there is never a time that the pot is sitting around without the shield on. The next person using the pot might not know you’ve removed it. This will also prevent losing it.
Check the valve before using the pot to make sure it’s clean of any debris. Never use the pot if the anti-blocking shield is missing.
3. Not Maintaining the Seal
The silicone gasket that seals the lid to the body of the Instant Pot is of great importance. Without this seal, the element heating the contents of the pot has to work harder to produce pressure.
Another risk is that the escaping liquid or steam can cause harm to people or damage to appliances nearby. It’s extremely important to check the seal regularly for damage.
How to Avoid This
To maintain your silicone gasket and prevent your Instant Pot from hissing and blowing hot steam, ensure the seal is seated correctly and free from debris or dry food. If the machine is hissing, push down on the lid to firm up the seal. If the pot continues to hiss, turn it off and wait for the pressure to fully release before opening it and inspecting the seal.
Don’t put the seal in the dish washer, which can eventually dry it out and lead to cracking. If you do put it in the dishwasher, be sure to replace it regularly to avoid any issues.
4. Surroundings or Instant Pot Casing Melts
Another Instant Pot Accident that can occur is that the surrounding wall or cabinet, or the Instant Pot casing itself can melt when it’s not used properly. While this isn’t an accident that usually causes bodily harm, it’s still a pretty big issue that will take a lot of patience to rectify.
Let me must ease your mind by saying this won’t happen unless you’ve placed the pot in a tight space without proper ventilation, or near another heat source.
There are a few things you should never do with the Instant Pot:
- While in operation, do not cover the appliance with anything – even a kitchen towel. Don’t drape anything over the top of the machine.
- Don’t position it near flammable materials including curtains, draperies, walls, and fabric upholstered furniture. The casing of the machine can become quite hot and it will melt things that are too close to it.
- Don’t close the Instant Pot into a tight space while it’s running, like inside a cabinet or cubby, too close to a wall, or underneath a cabinet. Steam is hot! Give it space to breath.
5. Food Explodes When Lid is Taken Off
This is an extremely rare thing to happen, but it can. The food inside the pot is being heated and pressurized to a very high degree. It’s not unheard of for it to still be volatile after being pressurized. It is for this reason that you should allow at least a short amount of natural pressure release.
How to Avoid This
When releasing the pressure manually, twist the pressure valve and stand back while all of the steam releases. Only after all the steam releases should you attempt to unlock the lid. If you feel any pressure at all in the lid when twisting it off, leave it locked for 2-5 more minutes before opening.
When opening the lid, always be careful and mindful of holding the lid away from your face and hands, so if liquid does exploded from the machine, it is directed away from yoi.
Why Use An Instant Pot?
The Instant Pot is one of the most useful kitchen appliances you can buy, because it drastically cuts down on the cooking time for developing flavors in soups and stews, getting tough cuts of meat tender, and even baking a cheesecake. And there are many accessories that will help you get more out of your Instant Pot.
While Instant Pots are miles ahead of their predecessors in terms of safety, there are still simple mistakes to be avoided. We hope that the accidents and the tips we have shared help you to feel confident cooking with your Instant Pot.
Now that your worries have been put to rest, consider which Instant Pot to buy with our guidance.
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Laura spends a lot of her time cooking and creating recipes to share. She loves traveling and learning about new foods around the world to bring into her own recipes at home.