What is That Smell?
It happened a few weeks ago. You were cooking some chicken, when out of nowhere the doorbell rings. It was Betty, from down the street. It wasn’t anything important. She just wanted to talk. She’s old, her kids all moved out years ago, and they never call her, and she wants to tell you all about it.
At length and in excruciatingly unnecessary detail.
When she finally leaves, you’re so relieved you sit down by the TV to relax. Only, what’s that smell? It turns out, you forgot to set a timer on the chicken and now it’s burned. Well, that sucks. You clean up the mess, throw out the burned meat and decide to order take out. You don’t think much of it at the time. Two weeks later, there’s a smoky reek in the kitchen, but you can’t see anything smoke damage.
A protein fire results from burning any protein rich fibers, such as those you find in most meat, or eggs. What’s remarkable about protein fires is that they don’t actually look like fires. They don’t have large flames and they don’t produce visible smoke. This is a result of the slow-cooking process used in cooking protein rich foods. The animal fat in protein burns down to a fine, nearly invisible mist. While you can’t see it, the mist will coat everything in a sticky, rancid residue. It gets everywhere, coating your stovetop, clothes, carpets, tiles, and penetrating the paint on your walls. Any porous surface soaks it up.
It Won’t Go Away!
The worst part of a protein fire is that the residue cannot be cleaned by normal means. Ordinary household cleaners won’t get into pores the residue sinks into, so the stink lingers. Months down the line you’ll find yourself wondering what the smell is and how to get rid of it. What do you do?
You Need Professional Assistance
Because of the way the residue penetrates into porous materials, standard cleaning job won’t do. You need a thorough cleaning. Only specialized cleaners will break up the residue and you need special cleaning techniques to get deep enough to scrub that smell away. In some cases, even that may not be enough. Sometimes, it’s necessary to apply a sealing agent, or repaint tainted surfaces. The process is lengthy, taking several days and multiple cleanings to completely remove the scent.
Exercise Kitchen Safety
The best way to deal with a protein fire is to avoid having one in the first place. For that, you just need to follow some basic kitchen safety rules.
Remember to set a timer whenever you cook something. It’s very easy to forget something in the oven, especially if you get distracted. A timer with a loud alarm will save you from this mistake.
If you are frying something on the stovetop, such as eggs or meat, do not ever walk away with the stovetop still on. If the phone or doorbell rings, or one of your kids starts shouting at you from the basement, turn the stove off. It only takes a few minutes for something to burn, and a few minutes is often how long distractions will take. Don’t take the risk.
These two simple steps will reduce your chances of a protein fire – or any kind of fire – to almost 0.
What To Do
If a protein fire does start, there are a few things you need to do right away.
First, extinguish the fire. Turn off the stove and remove the pan from heat. Remove the burned meat from your house as soon as possible. Don’t throw it away inside, or it will continue to spread the smell.
Second, remember to keep your hands clean. If you get the residue on your hands, you will spread it to everything you touch. Put on some good cleaning gloves before you do anything so you don’t get it on your hands.
Third, cover your furniture, rugs and carpets, and upholstery with old sheets, or plastic covers. This will help prevent the residue from spreading around your house.
Finally, call us as soon as you can. Remember that this job requires special chemicals and thorough cleaning techniques that only professionals can get a hold of. If you try to clean it yourself, you’ll most likely just end up spreading the residue – and the smell – around. The longer you wait, the more the residue will sink in and the more chances there are of the people who live in the house spreading it by accident.
Don’t hesitate; call the experts at Alpine Cleaning and Restoration right away. Our fire restoration team will get on the job ASAP. We’ll have it cleaned up as quickly as possible. By the time we’re done, there won’t be any trace of the smell left behind.