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"Stainless pot left on the burner; are the fumes dangerous?"

Current question:

September 7, 2021 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

I have another related question: there are many topics regarding stainless steel cookware containing Cr. I understand that is normal and there should be no health concern from regular use of the pot. But what about burnt stainless steel pot? Are the Cr fumes toxic if there are any?

I forgot I had my stove on, the next thing I knew was our house was full of burnt fumes, I turned off the stove right away, but the stainless steel pot was completely black on the inside. (I was cooking sweet potatoes) and of course they are burnt also. It took forever to lget the smell out of the house, I think my house still smells a day after that.

My question is, will the Cr in the stainless steel pot become toxic fumes when the pot is burnt from the stove top?

Thank you so much for reading my question.
Be safe!

Farah Thomas
- Austin, Texas

September 2021

A. Hi Farah. The melting point of stainless steel is more than 2500 ° F. I don't think a pot on a stovetop can even approach that if left forever. And I've never heard of chromium fumes or other fumes from stainless steel anyway. I'm confident that there is nothing to worry about.

It's fine to be concerned about toxins and other hazards, of course, but with all the myriad dangers out there which could use our attention, this is the 2nd time in two months that you've sought assurance against possible chrome poisoning, and from different sources; I'm not sure that whoever is making you so attuned to possible chrome dangers isn't doing a bit of a disservice :-)

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Closely related Q&A's, oldest first:

April 27, 2010

How many of us has forgotten a pot on the stove, and come back to discover it burning. I left for work and was gone 6 hrs. and came back to discover I did exactly this. I'd forgotten a small stainless steel Farberware pot on the stove burner with 3 eggs boiling and just enough water to cover them. I arrived home and upon opening the door, thick, noxious smelling fumes poured out. I ran in several times my nose covered with a thick wet cloth, opening doors, windows, turning on fans. I stayed outside for 6 hrs. working, and waiting for space to be breathable. Next day I vented the house again for the full day. Slept in my room with room venting, overhead fan circulating the air. The smoke infiltrated the house, drawers, closets, clothes. Is this smoke dangerous and does it cling to items and surfaces. The smell has not completely gone away...house smells like a heavy smokers house.

Ambray Gonzales
homeowner - Austin, Texas, U.S.A.

April 27, 2010

Hi, Ambray. The stainless steel pot is not as issue. The burned-to-charcoal eggs probably do smell horrible, but this is so common that I doubt it's dangerous. Some reported cures are simmering vinegar or citrus fruit rinds, or the use of incense for long enough to mask the small until it dissipates. Baking soda, of course, anywhere it's practical to sprinkle. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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