I have no problem with leaving my slow cooker on all day when I go out and I do so 3-5 times a week.  I always thought they were super safe as they are very low voltage.  My specific model is 170w which is probably less than my fridge and I don’t unplug it when I go out?

However, following on from Helen’s guest post yesterday, a few people came forward saying they too were a bit nervous about leaving a slow cooker unattended as well.

I am extremely uncomfortable at the thought of leaving something cooking in the house if I’m not there……

I’m a curious soul and would never want to recommend doing something that is unsafe.  So began my search for the answer to the question.  I armed myself with Google but struggled to find a definitive answer.

I did find an article published in 2008 called Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment which worried me slightly.  Slow Cookers are considered to be ‘portable cooking or warming devices’ and a yearly average of 9,000 fires were reported.  However, you mustn’t forget that they are grouped together with coffee makers, hot plates, toasters, frying pans, kettles and pressure cookers.  So, I still couldn’t work out how many fires were attributed to Slow Cookers.

So I decided to call the local fire department, don’t worry it was a non emergency number and spoke to a very helpful fire-fighter.  He’s been working at the department for 10 years and

‘has never attended a fire due to a slow cooker but many which were due to dishwashers, microwaves and tumble dryers’

‘had never heard of it happening ‘

‘they are safe as they have very low wattage and the contents are contained’

I also managed to track down more info via twitter from people who work in the Fire Service or their friends and family and a few who work in insurance.

Do Slow Cookers Start Fires?

‘No incidents pertaining to slow cookers! If you think about the fire triangle (heat,fuel, oxygen) the contents inside the slow cooker  Are contained thus being uber safe, electrical wise the slow cooker is ultra low voltage’ via laura Keeping

‘I work in insurance claims. Haven’t had a slow cooker fire in the 4yrs I’ve been there. Lots of chip pans.’ via Susan Cloonan

‘generally it’s tumble dryers, fridges, hair straighteners and hair dryers. I used to work for insurance company.’ via Darwin Conor

How can I make it safer?

‘As long as its used within manufacturers guidelines and approved for use in GB it’s safe as any domestic electrical appliance.’ via Herts Fire and Rescue Service

‘Slow cookers are fine if used properly. Would happily leave mine on all day. Just usual precautions as with all electrical apps.’ via Ben Levy Greater Manchester Fire Service

‘Just remember to leave in clear space and make sure there is enough food in the cooker. Apart from that enjoy the food.’ via Greenguv Firefighter

I do hope this puts you at ease but with any electrical appliance  common sense and respect go a long way.



About the Author

A slightly older mum of one, who drinks far too much red wine and has an unhealthy obsession with her slow cooker. She's on a mission to show everyone that there is more to Slow Cooking than Stews! If she sees another Pulled Pork Recipe she will scream! Find me on Google+

8 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Helen May 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    You’ll be pleased to know that this post has made me feel A LOT better! In fact, I’m very nearly ready to join the slow cooker revolution. Just need to free up the time I spend checking the gas is off … :-)

  2. JIM FISKE May 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    It would be wise to ckeck before you buy one that you check to see on its back side and on the electical cord that there is a take on which it is stated that the device has be APPROVED BY THE ELELECTICAL UNDER WRITERS LAB IN THE UNITED STATES.

  3. Joy May 18, 2013 at 6:46 am - Reply

    This has really made me feel better, I’ve been too scared to start using mine yet! Thanks x

  4. christina farris May 27, 2013 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Actually there has been fires with slow cookers. Usually what causes it, is whatever was cooking boiled dry starting a fire. My husband a former fire fighter. And though these instances are rare, it can and does happen. Soup or roast, something you can surround with liquid should be fairly safe. Only issue is what if you are late coming home, or can’t get home for some reason. Soup will make it a little longer then some dishes. Consider if others will be coming home besides yourself.

  5. Laura July 31, 2013 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    I’ve had a slow cooker for three years and have left it on numerous times when leaving the house. No fires yet (touch wood!). However, I do use a timer that plugs into the electrical socket. The timer is set when the slow cooker should go on AND off. That way I don’t need to worry if I’m running late and I still get to come home to an great cooked meal!

    On an aside, I ran across this website when looking for a slow cooker risotto recipe that was vegan. My partner and I had this tonight http://www.slowcookerqueen.com/slow-cooker-risotto-with-cannellini-beans/ and it was fantastic. Looking forward to trying out more recipes :)

  6. melissa November 11, 2013 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    well ive just plugged my brand new slow cooker in with a roast and yes i did read the instructions. within ten mins the whole kitchen stank of acrid plastic burning stench. i dont doubt if i had left it on it would have caught fire.

    • Chrissie Saunders November 13, 2013 at 2:29 pm - Reply

      Yikes! I would never want to suggest anything to you to try again especially if it is faulty and burns down your house. However, I had a new one recently and did similar and there was definitely a smell, but when I reread the instructions it said to wash it first as there may be a residue on it. Once I washed it, the smell was gone. But please don’t try unless you are sure it’s not faulty. I’d suggest contacting the company.

  7. Lucy December 30, 2014 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for putting so much research into this, I’ve just got my slow cooker and as a self employed, single woman I’m looking forward to being able to plan meals for when I come home, not 1-2 hours after I get home XX

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