• PPS101

Appliance Safety

by Diana Uyen

Having a bird in your home means taking extra steps to ensure a safe environment. If it is safer for the birds, it is safer for all in the household.  One of these steps applies to new appliances big and small. 

Let’s deal with the small ones first. 

These can be steamers, infrared cookers, slow cookers, fryers and many other similar products.  Many of these may have non-stick surfaces or burners which are not safe, so do your research as part of your plan to purchase.  Contact the manufacturers and ask to see if there is any non-stick surfaces and ensure the appliance is PTFE and PFOA free. Ask if they know if they are safe to use around a bird’s delicate respiratory system. If you do buy and you are not sure, use the appliance outside or garage, away from the interior of your home or birds.  Always practice safety first.

Now, on to ovens/stoves/ranges.  

The same applies here in regards to "doing your research" which might include contacting the manufacturer to get information. Remember, not all sales people in store are really familiar enough with the product or brands to determine if it would be safe for use around your birds.  They are there to sell and know the selling features that apply to the average buyer.

There should be an instruction manual that came with your appliance about proper unpacking procedures, as well as a burn in/off period.  You can ask the store where you purchased from if they can do a burn in/off at the store prior to delivery.  If not, if you can do the process with your new appliance outdoors. That would be better than filling your home with the fumes which can permeate many of the materials in your home with the odor. Before you do any burn in/off, remove the bird or any other pets or people with respiratory issues from your home as this can and is likely to kill your bird due to its toxic process or cause respiratory issues to others. 

First, I recommend you burn off the elements on the top of the stove as there could be a coating on there from the manufacturing.  I found this on one of my electric stoves.  Please use caution doing this as sometimes plastic dial controls can melt from the heat.

  1. Check to make sure all plastic clips, zip ties, twist ties are removed from the interior and exterior of your appliance.

  2. Turn on fans and any vents that you may have to get good airflow in your home.

  3. Wash your burner elements down with soap and water.

  4. Turn your burner elements (we are talking about your cooking element on top of your stove) to a high enough heat that the burner glows red. 

Leave it on until there is no smoke or smell/odor coming from it and then turn off to cool. Turn it on one more time to see if you smell anything or it smokes. If it does, repeat the process as before. If not, you can turn them off and they should be safe to use. 

Second, the oven. Based on the information I could find, there could be a number of things that could cause off gassing that could make your home toxic. One could be a coating from the manufacturer, which is often an oil meant to protect the surfaces, but could be anything from the manufacturing process including enamel interior. The other is the insulation bonding process. This can be a burning smell to a chemical smell. According to Samsung, this burning smell is caused by “the insulation surrounding the oven cavity emitting odors for the first few times it is exposed to the extreme heat inside the oven.” Also, remember the plastic clips I mentioned earlier, these are used to secure inserts during transport, the melting of them can be stinky and toxic too. So make sure you remove them. 

Now for the burn in/off process.

Follow steps 1 and 2 as stated for the top elements (above). Wash your oven and oven racks down with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly with a damp rag,  

Turn your oven up to High heat (500 Fahrenheit or 260 Celsius) for about an hour. You may use your self-clean feature on your oven for this as long as ALL birds are removed from the house or the appliance is outside (in a garage or car port). You may want to find something to do outside your home during this. Let your oven cool.  I suggest you repeat the process of heating your oven again (not using the self-clean this time) to high heat and see if there is any odor or smoke.  Do this as many times as necessary until there is nothing but heat. 

When finished, wipe down the inside of your oven and racks with a damp soapy cloth and rinse and your oven should be ready to use. Should you still smell an odor in your home, it could mean some materials have absorbed the odors.  You can sprinkle cloth furniture and carpets with baking soda and let it stand for ½ hour, then vacuum (preferably with a HEPA filter). You can also use an air purifier with a charcoal type filter or at least a HEPA filter.  Now you should be safe to bring everyone inside once the odors are gone and your home is well aired out.

Just a reminder.  DO NOT use the self-clean feature on your oven with a bird in the home.  The fumes created by the burn off are toxic. Self-cleaning ovens can emit the known toxins acrolein and formaldehyde as well as carbon monoxide from the burning food residue. The self-clean feature on your oven can shorten the life of your oven and it uses more energy.

Information reference sources:  How to safely off-gas chemicals Get rid of chemical residue by burning in your new oven

Edited and adapted from the original effort by Sandra Witt 12/5/16

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