I have, at long last, met my nemesis.

A red whistling kettle.

You. You . . .

Earlier in the summer we had serious fruit fly problems, so I concocted a very effective fruit fly trap: I took a mug, put a sliced strawberry and a little red wine in it, and covered it with plastic wrap that I poked holes in. The flies got in and couldn’t get out. It was great!

It was also really gross, because fruit flies are gross, and as you probably know they breed pretty quickly, so when you leave a fruit fly trap out for more than a couple of days, uh . . . life . . . happens. So after disposing of the flies and the bait, I decided to sanitize the mug with vinegar and then with boiling water.

First time I did this, no problem. At the end of June, after another successful fruit fly catching endeavor and right before I left for Alaska for two weeks, I decided to sanitize the cup again. I put the kettle on, flipped up the cap, because the kettle sounds like a Nazgul that’s stubbed its toe when the water boils, and went to play video games.

Something like an hour later I went “What’s that smell?”

Did you know you can not only melt rubber but also burn metal with an ordinary electric stove? It’s true!

The more you know! ★

The melting point of rubber is 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and the melting point of various plastics is between 200 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit! ★

This happened less than an hour before I had to go the airport, so I threw some money at one roommate and texted the other to let her know that EVERYTHING’S OKAY uh I’M SO SORRY the kitchen kind of smells like carcinogens, and then I fled the state.

And so I learned a very important lesson about burning water!

Which brings us to tonight.

Tonight I decided to finally sterilize that cup, since it was still sitting in the sink, so I put our new kettle on — conscientiously putting the cap down so it would shriek like a tortured soul burning in the fires of hell at me if I forgot about it, instead of actually burning like an etc etc — and turned around to clean up from dinner.

When I turned back to the stove, I saw smoke. No biggie — I figured some kind of crud had probably gotten on the kettle and was smoking off so oh my god the burner is on fire.

While I would like to tell you I calmly and competently put out the (small. SMALL, Mom, it was small!) fire, I actually just kind of stood there and stared at it while it burned itself out. Well after there were no more visible flames, I got a cup of water from the sink and gingerly poured it onto the burner. You know, so I could feel like I contributed. Yeah. Well done, me.

I guess the moral of this story is that I should not be allowed near boiling water. Hot oil? Sure. Toasters? No problem. Heavy machinery? Bring it on.

But the kettles are out to get me.

(Also, kids, clean your stove.)

4 thoughts on “I have, at long last, met my nemesis.

  1. Well done. Baking soda might have been a good idea — keep an opened box near the stove. But if it just took care of itself, all is better, because less cleanup. Always hard to know what the outcome will be. . . . Remember when I caught the roasted asparagus on fire in the oven, and not only ruined that, but the halibut that was in the oven with it? End of dinner. I think we ordered pizza.

    Dare I ask, what was the cause of the flames?

    1. I have no idea! Something black and crunchy? That’s all I could tell by the time I looked.

      If baking soda gets atomized — you know, makes a cloud in the air if you’re throwing it at fire — will it catch fire, or is it inflammable?

      1. It won’t catch fire! It decomposes into water + CO2 + soda ash, none of which is flammable. It’s only really useful on small grease fires, though (it smothers out the oxygen) — for non-grease fires, water is more efficient.

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