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I have an electric hot pot that would be good for deep frying as it automatically controls heat. However, the pot itself is more of a pan - shallow and wide. I was thinking of things I could put in the pan (on one side) in order to:

  1. Increase the depth of oil (on other side)
  2. Decrease the volume of actual oil used
  3. Retain heat

So far, my questionably "best" idea/hack is to use basalt "hot stones" typical of massage therapy.

Seems like basalt is used in some cooking forms, e.g. as a hot plate for steaks etc. Some sub-questions to go along with this idea:

  1. Can basalt stones withstand deep frying conditions of 375F?
  2. Are most basalt stone products pretty much the "same" kind of basalt?
  3. Is it safe for cooking (e.g. leeching, chemicals, reaction to hot oil etc.)
  4. Are there any other safety issues I'm neglecting?

If people have any other ideas that can answer the question I'm all ears.

Electric "hot-pot" and "hot-stone" reference: hot-pot example hot-stone example

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    Keep in mind that a heat retaining material could increase the hazard in case something gets out of control - while you would have less smoking or even flaming oil to deal with, you would be unable to stop the heat quickly and safely.... – rackandboneman Nov 4 '18 at 18:33
  • Hm. It's a good point to consider. I think adding a heat retaining material could be dangerous if the temperature gets out of control and the material retains heat above flash point. I suppose this can be mitigated by two things: 1) auto-temperature control like an electric hot pot which should keep the heat below flash point, 2) if the heat retaining material is completely submerged in the oil so that the heat source lacks oxygen to ignite. – jmk2142 Nov 4 '18 at 18:38
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    I'm going to advise against even doing this. If you're concerned about wasting oil, just recycle your used frying oil (filter it through a cheesecloth). Adding stones or other things to the pan is going to be troublesome without much actual benefit. – FuzzyChef Nov 4 '18 at 19:36
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    You could try a smaller heat resistant recipient to occupy the volume without retaining heat, like a small stainless steel mug, for example – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Nov 4 '18 at 22:38
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    @FuzzyChef - you could be right. Might very well be more troublesome than worth. But it also feels like an interesting experiment. ;-) The benefit is really for the fringe case of having equipment like above, but not wanting to cook large batches, use so much material. It solves the add more depth problem, question is at what (possible safety risk?) But, for example - using an electric temperature controlled pot like above seems less a safety risk than a small pot over a gas stove. Anyway, I'm appreciating this discussion as to whether I should try this or not. Still undecided. – jmk2142 Nov 5 '18 at 4:18
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It's a neat idea and basalt is definitely a solid at 1000°C and is only a fluid liquid at 1200°C, so it's quite safe except it takes more time to heat up basalt than oil... So the oil you're going to save while using a large pan containing basalt is going to be offset by the extra energy you need to pump into the system.¹

  • On a camping site when you don't have enough oil? Yeah, go for it!
  • In your own kitchen? Up to you, but I would just buy a smaller pan.

Note¹: Basalt is volcanic rock and also takes more time to cool down, so be careful when you do use it; leave the pan overnight on your counter to allow the basalt to cool off...

  • Wouldn't the same be true in reverse though? While we need to pump more heat into the system, when we put foods into the oil, it'll also have more heat energy "reserves" in system to keep the temperature stable? Essentially, I think we're practicing the same thing when we use lots of oil - to make sure the entire system has plenty of energy to avoid large temp fluctuation. Along these lines, I wonder if something like a block of stainless steel would do the trick better? Allows us to transfer heat from oil to block quickly, but also store more energy in the system without the extra oil? – jmk2142 Nov 5 '18 at 4:34
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    Yeah, a stainless steel block would work as well. Same safety precautions apply. ;-) – Fabby Nov 5 '18 at 9:00
  • Getting interesting. Now I feel like I have to do a little research on thermal properties of these different materials. – jmk2142 Nov 5 '18 at 20:56
  • Don't forget to accept after your research completes! ;-) – Fabby Nov 6 '18 at 0:14
  • Yep. I'm waiting if someone can top this answer. – jmk2142 Nov 6 '18 at 5:12

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