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I just fried my first turkey and left the oil outside to cool. While we were inside enjoying the turkey we realized it had been raining for a while. I didn't have a lid on the pot. I was planning on filtering the oil and storing for later use. How bad will it be to reheat the oil with a bit of water in it?

UPDATE: I should have given more information about how much water may have entered the pot. It was probably raining anywhere from 2-4 minutes by the time I went out and covered the pot. The oil was still over 200 F at this point. I wouldn't think that much water really made its way in. Also, wouldn't any rain water that hit the oil have immediately evaporated?

  • I think it's going to depend on how much "a bit of water" really is. – Ross Ridge Nov 13 '17 at 1:03
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    Really, really bad. You'd want to decant the oil off the top, then heat it really slowly in a very tall container with a splatter screen. If any water is in it, it'll bubble and throw oil ... potentially starting a fire. (Which is why we want a tall container, and the splatter screen as a backup) – Joe Nov 13 '17 at 1:07
  • You need to get the water out. Also, frying other things may taste turkey-ish; you may want to try some other filtering. A little water is OK (it'll splatter a bit, just like when you put something a bit wet in hot oil). But this doesn't sound like a little water. Remember that oil fires are pretty easy to create and can be tricky to put out. – Batman Nov 13 '17 at 1:20
  • Heating it slowly could give water even more opportunity to pool at the bottom and go for your neck... – rackandboneman Nov 13 '17 at 10:39
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Generic, short answer, just to make sure a potentially dangerous state of things is not left uncommented.

Certainly unsafe for deep frying at that scale unless you can guarantee you got all the water out - any water separating out tends to collect at the bottom of the vessel, where it can boil suddenly when the setup is heated again, propelling hot oil out of the vessel. Hot oil being propelled in any way is usually very unsafe.

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    I do not consider my own answer all there is to say on it. All I said is "if you get water beneath the oil, bad news". Which needed to be said, quick. I think an answer that describes a process to avoid that deserves the green, not this one. – rackandboneman Nov 14 '17 at 8:14
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I ended up going to urgent care because of a little water in the bottom of the pot when frying falafel. It was boiling off rapidly, and the pot exploded when I turned the heat down. It jumped off the stove, and there was oil on the ceiling. I think I wasn't blinded because of the lid.

What happened was the Leidenfrost effect. You know when you put drops of water on a heated pan and instead of immediately turning to steam, the water skips around on a layer of steam. That's what set up the conditions for the explosion.

The water at the bottom of the pot was steaming enough that the oil didn't come in contact with it. When I turned the heat down, the oil contacted the water and all the water immediately turned to steam. I'd guess there was 2-3 tablespoons of water.

Boiling the water off may be dangerous. I'm not sure how you can prevent the water from boiling suddenly - perhaps by using a low heat with very little boiling over time. It's more dangerous than you'd think.

  • Ouch. I never thought of the leidenfrost effect in that regard. I'll still suggest decanting ... letting it separate, then pouring the top off ... before you try heating it. – Joe Feb 15 '18 at 1:07
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Unless you had a deluge you're not going to to have a lot of water in there, even if you do it's no big deal as long as you are thorough in getting rid of it. Oil and water do not mix and oil floats on water, so any water will pool on the bottom at the lowest part of the fryer. You can use a turkey baster to remove and water from the bottom, just squeeze the baster out, stick it down to the bottom, then suck whatever is there up and squeeze it out into a different container. Keep the process up until you are consistently sucking up only oil. Let everything settle for a couple of hours, then repeat the process. Do this until you consistently get only oil.

  • it might be worth putting something under the pot so it's not on flat ground ... so there's a corner for the water to collect, rather than a thin layer across the bottom of the pot. – Joe Feb 15 '18 at 1:07
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    "any water will pool on the bottom at the lowest part of the fryer" - "don't worry about all the black powder, we protected it by putting a bullet in front of it" :) – rackandboneman Feb 15 '18 at 10:42

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