Most people don’t think twice before lighting up their gas stoves. Natural gas, known as methane, is extremely flammable and hazardous, but have you ever given it a thought when looking at the gas pipelines going straight into your stove?
Gas stoves are commonly used all around the globe and it’s important for you to make sure that you maintain them properly.
There are hundreds of cases each year where people end up sustaining serious injuries or a poorly maintained stove ends up causing a fire. While natural gas is perfectly safe when used with a gas stove, you should know that the stove must be cleaned and maintained properly.
If there is a gas leakage, it could cause a serious fire outbreak. One of the things that you should know is that the flames from your natural gas stove can give you an idea about whether a potential fire hazard exists or not. It could tip you off and make it easy for you to avoid such a problem.
When you light up the burner, you mostly see a blue flame. While fire is usually orange, if you take a close look at your natural gas stove, you will realize that it burns with a blue flame.
Understanding the science behind the colors in a fire is important so that you know exactly what is happening.
What Causes the Color in the Flames?
When you look into a wood fire, you usually see that it burns with an orange glow.
However, the same cannot be said for a controlled fire atop a gas stove. That one burns blue. You see, the wood fire is generally orange because of the sodium that is present in the wood.
When you light up the fire, the sodium gives off a bright orange hue. The small part of the wood that is blue is because of the carbon and hydrogen since they tend to emit shades of violet and blue when they are heated.
Therefore, if you notice an orange glow in your gas stove, it’s probably because there’s something wrong.
One of the reasons could be that your burner is releasing unsafe amounts of carbon monoxide gas and needs to be fixed. To further understand this problem, it is important to get a better idea about the principles of combustion, which is what causes the fire in the first place.
In order for combustion to occur completely, the gas stove has to supply just the right amount of fuel, and it must be balanced and mixed with adequate levels of oxygen. This leads to the creation of carbon dioxide, a very common gas found in our atmosphere.
However, if the mixture of fuel and oxygen is not at the right levels, the combustion is not complete and this leads to the creation of carbon monoxide, which is actually quite harmful.
Hotter flames, which are achieved by providing the right mix of fuel and oxygen, are generally blue. The orange ones are not.
When the mixture is not properly balanced, certain cooler pockets exist. That’s simply because the fuel is not being utilized in an effective manner and that is why you are left with orange flames in your gas stove. The orange flame is caused by an imbalance, as we have established.
But you should know that the reasons behind it can vary. For instance, the orifices in your gas burner might not have been cleaned properly. They are likely to get clogged after a while because of excessive soot buildup. This results in an uneven supply of gas to the burner.
Now when the flame burns the soot, the color that you see, also known as the incandescence, has an orange hue. Another reason for this is because the wrong orifice is installed based on the kind of gas that you are using.
Keep in mind that the requirements of air to fuel for both liquid propane and natural gas (methane) are quite different.
There is also a risk that the air shutter might be of an inappropriate size or it might have sustained damage. This would result in an inaccurate amount of oxygen mixing in with the fuel.
If the supply of oxygen is not sufficient, certain parts of the gas will ignite and will have that hotter blue glow whereas the other parts will not.
What to Look for
There are some major red flags that you should keep a lookout for. First of all, you need to understand that carbon monoxide is a byproduct released as a result of combustion.
When you have a gas stove that is emitting blue flames, the amount of carbon monoxide being released is at relatively safe levels.
It quickly dissipates into the air and you don’t have to worry about anything at all during those normal cooking tasks. However, an orange flame is a major red flag and there is a risk that elevated levels of carbon monoxide are present in the air.
You should also know that in a closed environment, this could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to various symptoms that might be fairly simple but could multiply over time. These include standard flu-like symptoms including light-headedness, dizziness, headaches, and even nausea.
The reason why so many people refer to carbon monoxide as a silent killer is because it is completely odorless and it doesn’t have a color either. Basically, it’s very hard to identify.
Therefore, you should know that there is a strong risk that the carbon monoxide might be administering a lethal dose to people standing around the gas stove without them ever knowing it. If you have a gas stove and use it for heating, you have to understand that this is not a vented appliance.
You should always avoid using it for home heating purposes. Even the blue flame emits certain levels of carbon monoxide and if you do not have proper ventilation in your house, it could easily spike up to dangerous levels when there is no ventilation.
This is a major sign, and you have to turn off the flame as quickly as possible and take preventative measures.
What to Do
The answer to this one is quite simple: you will want to make sure that you clean the orifices of your gas burner as carefully as possible. If you can take out the burner, you should make sure that you wash it as thoroughly as possible, preferably using a decent burner cleaner.
However, just to be safe, it might be a wise idea to schedule an inspection with a certified gas stove technician. They will be able to check the burner thoroughly for you and give you a better idea about the current repair work that needs to be done, as well as any replacements that are needed for specific parts.
Keep in mind that meddling with the specific components of your burner is not a wise idea and there is a strong chance that you will end up doing more harm than good. It is best to let experienced technicians deal with the whole thing because they have the experience and the expertise for it.