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Okay, I have a situation here that is blowing my mind and hopefully someone here can help me. The other night, I attempted to cook a burger on the stove. Smoke was coming up (eventually pouring up) from the sides of the pan, but I initially ignored it because I just figured that was, um, normal. Within minutes, my smoke alarm went off. Once that situation was taken care of, I gave up on the burger, and attempted to bake some homemade granola in my oven. Soon enough, smoke was coming out of my oven. Nothing was ever on fire during either of these situations, just a lot of smoke.

During both occurrences, I was cooking/baking with coconut oil. I usually use coconut oil, but this time I had purchased a new brand I had never tried before. I originally blamed these two mishaps on the "cheap" oil I purchased. Also, another note: I am using Calphalon Contemporary pots and pans from Crate & Barrell and have been for the past year. I am using an electric stove.

Anyway, I have set the coconut oil aside with an intention to exchange it for my regular brand. So the next day, I go to boil some water for my tea. Smoke is pouring up the sides of my small sauce pan! This NEVER happens! I turn on my vent and halfway panic while I quickly call it quits and pour the simmered water over my loose tea. Steam is coming from my teapot which really isn't normal.

Later on, I try to scramble some eggs in a different pan. Same thing happens. Smoke pours up the sides.

At this point, I figure there must be some coconut oil residue covering my stove as it must be impossible for every Calphalon pot/pan to go bad at once. So, I clean and scrub my stove. I clean each pot/pan just to be sure. Now, with a pristine stove, I grabbed my one pot that I have literally used only ONCE in my life...there's no way there can be a problem now, right? I put some brown rice in this hardly used pot, and as the water starts to heat up, sure enough, lots of smoke starts coming up the sides!! HOW can this be?! My mother thinks my pots and pans are garbage and I should return them, but to me, it just seems impossible how every pot is all of a sudden "ruined". Is my stove ruined? What did I DO?!

I have never had a problem with my stove or my pans until I attempted to cook that burger. I am going crazy trying to figure out what all of a sudden happened. Tomorrow I am going to buy a new pan from Target just to test it out. Any insight is greatly appreciated as this is really bothering me! Thanks in advance!

**Edited to add: My oven is electric/glass top and the smoke is coming from the INSIDE of ALL my pans!

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Is the smoke pouring up the outside or inside of the pots and pans? –  jalbee Apr 17 '13 at 5:23
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Did you clean under the burners thoroughly? And have you tried turning on the stove without a pan on it? When smoke came out of the oven, where did it come from? Was it inside the oven? Or maybe from the burner that has an opening at the bottom, to vent from the oven? Or is all this wrong, and in all cases you'd put some oil in the pan (not just heated it empty) and the smoke was coming from the oil? (You've given a lot of detail about the things you've done, but not the actual important bit about where the smoke's coming from.) –  Jefromi Apr 17 '13 at 5:25
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TBH, the only that that makes sense to me with all your pans smoking from the inside is either the stove is shorted out and is always set to some crazy high heat, or there is some residue (from the oil or cleaning solution) that is burning at a low temperature. –  jalbee Apr 17 '13 at 7:01
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Are you sure the smoke is coming from the inside of the pans? Sometimes, if the smoke is crawling up the sides and "emitting" from the rim of the pan, it can be hard to tell if it originated on the inside or the outside. –  Marti Apr 17 '13 at 14:09
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Please try just heating the stove by itself to confirm that the smoke is coming from the pans, not the stove. Then try heating your pot with nothing in it and the lid on to make it really easy to tell whether the smoke is coming from inside. –  Jefromi Apr 17 '13 at 16:53

2 Answers 2

It is possible you have some soap or oil film from the washing process that has not been cleared off these pots and pans. From what I read, all of them have been washed at least once. I suggest the following steps:

  • Replace your dish washing sponge with a new one and wash the pans properly by hand and and rinse them thoroughly under running hot water. If you see any suds anywhere, rinse more (dish soap is carcinogenic). Don't place them in the dishwasher (at least for now).

  • If you're going to Target buy a new pan, buy a heavy bottom Stainless Steel one (they are better for cooking anyway).

  • Pour 1/2 inch of water in a pan or pot. If you see a film or any funny color on the water surface, wash and rinse again.

  • Turn the heat to medium and wait for smoke (if any). Oil smoke is usually thicker, and heavier whereas soap smoke seems (to me at least) lighter and ghosty.

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Thank you for your response. I am going to re-wash them all with a new sponge right now and try again. Like I mentioned above, I have tried out every pan I own, including a couple that are rarely used, and the same thing happens. But I'm going crazy (and not to mention, I'm starving!) trying to figure out the root of the problem so it's definitely worth another try! –  Jackie Apr 17 '13 at 19:09

That inconvenient happens when:

  • A bit of oil has jumped from the pan/boiler and fell on the burner / resistance / heat generator.
  • A bit of fat is sprayed on the walls of the oven
  • You forgot to remove some label or protection under the pan
  • Did you use a new product, to wash the pans, that leaves a coating fat
  • (You have left burning bakelite handles)

In these cases the fat is not seen but begins to burn at high temperatures, making smoke. It can happen even in the microwave. If some of these hypotheses can explain your problem, you can take the necessary remedy (clean each part with a strong degreaser; check any remaining labels, which will be completely removed; make sure the handles).

If none of these hypotheses is correct, I'm curious about the causes of this phenomenon.

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Also make sure to clean the surfaces under the stove top. Many stoves allow you to lift up the stove top and get to the gross surface underneath. –  jalbee Apr 17 '13 at 5:26
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+1 It certainly sounds most like the first point, but the others can happen too! @jalbee thanks for the photo! –  Jefromi Apr 17 '13 at 5:46
    
Thank you so much for your response, and thank you for the photo @jalbee! BUT, my stove is a glass-top...any other ideas? @violadaprile, I will definitely try cleaning the inside of my oven, but since my stove top is a GLASS top, do you know if cleaning the heat generator will help? And, um, where is the heat generator? I'm sorry, a beginner cook...clearly. :/ –  Jackie Apr 17 '13 at 6:44
    
If your top is a glass top, heat generators are the resistances under the glass. In this case, generally the top can not be opened. But the sides are sealed, so no, it is not necessary. –  violadaprile Apr 17 '13 at 15:01

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