When cooking in the kitchen you usually use some oil or butter to bake your meat and potatoes in. After some weeks without cleaning (which happens every now and then) the surroundings of the stove will get a greasy, sticky layer. Since this only happens relatively close to the stove, say a 1-2 meter radius, I'm assuming that it is caused by my cooking.

My question is: how does the grease get so far away from the stove?

I know that sometimes oil will spray a bit when you add something water-containing to it, but the grease is actually also in places that are not in the 'line of fire' (on top of the ventilation hood for example). Therefore, the grease must be getting airborne somehow, but I don't understand how, because evaporation of the vegetable oil or butter seems highly unlikely to me. Does anyone know what is going on?


1 Answer 1


Let's reword it:

  1. Traces of oil and grease are distilled off at temperatures below their boiling points.

  2. The temperature in the frying pan is above 100 °C.

  3. The food does contain significant amounts of water.

This sounds like the conditions for steam distillation, except that you're collecting the mixture of water and water-insoluble material everywhere in the kitchen and not in a flask.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In addition to steam distillation some fat is sprayed into air by the sizzeling of water droplets falling into hot fat. $\endgroup$
    – Georg
    Dec 21, 2014 at 23:17

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