You may have something a hundred million years old in your kitchen right now. It’s old yet powerful and you count on it every day: it’s the natural gas that fuels your gas range. Formed deep under the earth’s crust by decomposing organic matter, this ancient substance is the cleanest fossil fuel available, converting its energy into heat with 92 percent efficiency.
Natural gas – and propane, which can be derived from it – has no smell. Gas utilities add the distinctive rotten egg scent to help us quickly identify any leaks in homes or along pipelines (2.5 million miles of pipeline criss-cross the United States - enough to go to the moon and back five times!). Pinpointing leaks is important because natural gas is flammable – the very quality that enables us to prepare edibles can also spark explosions or fires if improperly handled. Preferred by nine of 10 pro chefs, natural gas is here to stay in today’s kitchens but it’s essential to use it safely:
Natural Gas Cooking Tips: Choose the right size pot for the burner and adjust the flame so that it doesn't flare up around the pot. Don't allow food to boil over, which could quench the flame while still leaving the gas on, increasing the chance of fire or explosion. Make a habit of not putting flammable materials on or near the stove. Station a fire extinguisher in your kitchen near the range – a recommended practice no matter what your stove type.
Maintenance: Modern gas ranges have been designed and built for maximum safety but several guidelines add to those protections. Be sure that only a professional installs, maintains or removes your range. This is the only way to be certain that the appliance is properly vented and hooked up to the gas supply line. Stay alert for signs that your range is functioning improperly: flames appear abnormal, burners go out unexpectedly, or you smell gas.
Carbon Monoxide: Any gas appliance can be a source of carbon monoxide, a dangerous gas that deprives the body of oxygen, resulting in serious injury or death. Never rely on a gas stove as a source of heat because this risks carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s sound safety practice to always install carbon monoxide detectors in homes with gas appliances.
Gas Leaks: If you smell gas, first make sure all the burner dials are completely off. If they are and you still smell gas, get out of the house, go to another location and call the gas company. In the first recorded use of natural gas to provide tasty nourishment, the king of Persia built his royal kitchen near a natural gas fissure! With proper precautions and common sense, your gas range will provide many years of superior meals, just as it did in ancient times.