Are Pressure Cooking Explosions Common?


I came across this picture above on Facebook and had to investigate this for myself.  Are pressure cookers safe to use, and is this a common occurrence?

According to second generation pressure cookers are 100% safe.  Pressure cookers became quite popular after world war 2, and were made from aluminum which were manufactured using a metal casting process.  These cookers lacked most of the safety features found in the newer models.   Pressure cookers have come a long way in 70 years!  If you decide to try pressure cooking, buy a new model than one at your local garage sale.

While many people believe that electric pressure cookers are safer than stove top ones, that simply isn’t true.  The stovetop models can offer as many as 5 and 6 different safety features.  Here are some of those features:

  • A Lid locking device that won’t allow the lid to be removed until it’s safe to do so. If the lid is not locked in place, the interlocking lid won’t allow steam to build up, and a spring loaded mechanism located inside the lid pushes the gasket away from the rim to prevent the pressure cooker from pressurizing.
  • Dual pressure valves which regulate pressure.  A gasket release allows steam to be released.  This means if the pressure were to build, the gasket would be pushed out, and worse case, it would make a mess on the top of your stove just like any other saucepan boil over.
  • A visual pressure indicator shows when the cooker is under pressure and indicates when a drop in pressure occurs.  This indicator allows you to see when there is no inside pressure inside and when it is safe to open.

Pressure CookerHere are some of the best pressure cookers on the market:

1.  The six-quart Tramontina 18/10 Stainless Steel ($84) offers the best a quick-release feature which drops pressure in just three minutes.

2. Fagor Futuro 6-Quart ($104) allows you to cook vegetables in a steamer basket.

3.  Cuisinart  6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker  ($99 ) rated the best seller on amazon with 1,300+ reviews with almost 5 stars.  Push-button controls, precision thermostat, includes settings for pressure cooking, browning, simmering, sauteing and warming.


Here are some of the most interesting comments left below the original picture on facebook:

  • “You failed to verify that the safety valve was unclogged, the normal “rocker” valve also became clogged and the heat wasn’t turned down. This all led to an abnormal buildup of pressure that the pot couldn’t handle, which caused catastrophic failure. Always check the valves as it first begins to heat and don’t leave a cooker unattended, especially out of ear shot. If it stops releasing steam that’s a sign something is about to go horribly wrong and you need to take the pot off the heat”
  • “Susan Stocker – We had a pressure cooker and had dinner cooking in it, as it started to release the pressure, it exploded. The top went one way the ring went another way and I had burnt food all over the place. My Husband wanted the stupid thing. He was just lucky he moved in time. The company returned the money and paid for the food.”
  • “Michele Dingemans -to use a pressure cooker, you must know what your doing! If it runs out of liquids, it will blow up and it’s very dangerous! A friend of ours had one blow up in his face and he was very burned. I’ve used one hundreds of times with success, but, it has to be monitored and liquid levels checked at times, etc.”
  • “Vicky Woodruff Dison -Canning. It’s not for idiots. Been pressure canning 30 years, sometimes I have 2 going at once. With today’s models having over pressure plugs that pop if the pressure gets too high it is pretty near impossible to blow the lid off your canner”
  • “Kris Dittmann -Unless that plug is damaged or defective, which most people wouldn’t know to check for, or even how to check.”
  • “Cheryl Garman Rutschilling Klaas -Using a pressure canner on a glass-top (smooth top) stove will void your stove warranty and probably your house insurance too…I bought a new canner that was listed as safe to use on my smooth top. Also you must have the stove leveled well or it can cause too much heat in one spot…oh, how awful”
  • “Vince Warde -You have to do a lot of things wrong – or have a lot of things go wrong – to have that happen. If the pressure plug fails, it will blow out at a lower pressure – not hold at a high one. Plus, the weight will vent keeping pressure within safe limits. My guess is that this was either an intentional act – or a perfect storm of failure. My guess is either the lid was not properly secured or there was a flaw in the metal that was not caught at the factory.”
  • “Seth Monn -It may be near impossible to blow the the lid off but this person did it with spectacular success”
  • Elmer Pinneke -“The “rubber” gasket gave way on ours and there were beans everywhere”
  • Diana Adams Shuster “It’s a glass top range you cannot can on it. If you read your owners manual it warns you of this. If you drop a can or something heavy on it this will also happen”
  • Cindy Lee Swyers -“This person had to have left this beast on high and it ran out of water. We have used these for years and nothing like this ever happened. We have blew a couple safety valves but this is beyond safety valves. That cooker had to have left the stove when it blew the top and then came back down and it smashed the top”
  • Diana L Drew Allen “I pressure canned ONCE with about the same results. Went back to old fashioned canning method.  (use a huge porceline pot with a lid. They are the same racks to put you jars in. Most vetables require 3 1/2 hours processing & you leave them in the canner until you hear the lids snapping closed. Takes longer, but less dangerous in my mind, lol. It’s called ” Cold Pack ” method, if I remember correctly.)”
  • Tory Meyer “You need to pressure can things that are not highly acidic to kill botcholism spores. Regular canning ie hot method will never get above 210°. Pressure canning will exceed that greatly”
  • Diana L Drew Allen “Water boils at 212, you keep it at a steady boil with the cold pack method. I always cooked them for 3 1/2 hours, although I don’t think you have too. I learned from my grandmother & that’s how she did it, so that’s how I do it”
  • Victoria Leitl “Yikes, most vegetables are not acidic enough to be water processed. Even some tomatoes aren’t acidic enough. Boiling water is not hot enough to kill the bacteria that causes botulism. You need temps of at least 240F which requires a pressure canner. If you’re adding acid to your veggies, you might be ok with just water processing”
  • JoAnn Barker “First, the pressure cooker is too big for the glass top stove, it will break the glass. 2nd, after you let it steam for several minutes you are suppose to turn the temp down before you put the weight on it. If you don’t turn the temp down before you put the weight on then it will explode”
  • Cat Joyce “I have electric pressure cooker now, but always did my canning the old way because I was terrified of the pressure cooker. Afraid I’d blow up the house. Bad enough I dropped jar of blackberries back into canner, it hit two others jars the exploded all over the kitchen, I was lucky”
  • Ellen Myrick Wages “This happens one in a million times. Don’t scare people from using a canner they have done something very wrong when this happens. You are wasting precious time using a water bath canner.  I am 72 and have canned for 50 years. Never a problem”
  • Donna L. Lawrence “Yep that’s why I was told not to purchase a glass top stove if I was going to do canning. Glass tops can’t take the heat! When the top cracked it shook the pressure cooker which could cause it to explode. In this case it did. Sad”
  • Larae Kaushagen “The only reason you should not can on a flat top stove is because the temperature fluctuates so much”
  • Patricia Ferguson Moore “The pressure vent wasn’t cleared first…pretty important first step, I’d say!”
  • Helen Griffin Holton “I have cooked for years with presser cookers. Never had this happen. But my husband cooked a stew one night , had the burner up to high. The thing blew up. And our dinner was all over the kitchen…lol…he did, he cleaned it up. As I lmao. Thank God no one hurt. Went out for dinner. Lol”
  • Donna Walker “I would NEVER use a pressure canner on a glass top stove or an electric burner, way too hard to control the heat/pressure. Mom had one that blew up & it was a mess all over the kitchen”
  • Darla White “You can’t walk away from them! They have to be monitored (until it’s done) and the fires turned off. Lol Pressure cookers and pressure canners are different. You cook food (frozen meat, beans etc) in a pressure cooker with No jars. A presser canner can be used for jar canning and/or big cuts of meat etc. but not at the same time. Lol Never walk away from one on the stove top”
  • Barry Martin “Well some one either cooking way to hot, but most likely didn’t check the blow off hole, and it was stopped up, which would cause this,most canners have a rubber plug that will blow out to keep this from happening, canning is as safe as you let it be, or as dangerous!”
  • Sonia Henson “Even when done by experts, canning can go wrong. One year, my father who has been canning for decades, had a load of green beans explode. The lids were defective. He was lucky because he had just turned his back on the jars after removing them from the water. He only had some minor burns on the backs of his legs. We found glass in the ceiling and green beans behind closed doors”