Wow, who knew sugar was so flammable?

Let’s just say, I’m easily distracted.

I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes around 11 am after being distracted by this fascinating book earlier, when I noticed the syrup was a little low. So I decided to make some more.

As I was measuring the water (after already measuring the sugar), I got distracted and added too much water. So then I added a little more sugar and set the pot on the stove and turned it to high.

Then S asked if he could play the “make the ball catch the star game” on the computer.

“Okay, but only for ten minutes.”

Then, I decided maybe I should help him turn the computer on. When I got to the back room where we keep the computer, I wondered if maybe I should download the newer version that Mr. French had mentioned a few days ago and decided to see if I could get this computer on the internet. I had to search for a cord and after a minute decided it was probably going to be too hard and I would wait until Mr. French got home to do it.

On my way out of the bedroom, I stopped in the bathroom to refresh my chapstick when I noticed that the toilet was kinda dirty looking and then I remembered that I had planned to clean it this morning and decided that now was as good a time as any to go ahead and do that. I stopped at the laundry closet, on the way down the hall, to pick up the toilet cleaner and then realized that I actually didn’t keep cleaner in the laundry closet, although that might be a good idea because it was sitting out on the counter in the kitchen while I wait for maintenance to come see why there’s seems to be a periodic leak under the sink that sprays everything under there indiscriminately with coffee grinds. (Hello, garbage disposal? You don’t look so hot.)

And that’s when I smelled it. A sort of sweet burning smell. Oh, yeah, I’m making syrup.

It looked fine, but it was boiling so I pulled it off and that’s when I saw the flame.

So, I blew on it and it went away for a second.

And then it came back with an s.

And then I said to myself, Rachel, you need something more effective here.

So, I blew on it harder.

And the flames disappeared for two seconds.

And then they came back a little higher than before.

And then my thoughts flinted to water.

NO, said my brain. It’s an electric stove!

Which, by the way, shut it off please.

The flames were increasing, when it hit me.

Baking soda.

Two things I’m thankful for. The knowledge that one should use baking soda in an electrical fire was something I learned a long time ago and had never since had the chance to use. And yet, even after four pregnancies and the subsequent multiple brain cell loss, it was still there waiting to be used.

And second, I found the baking soda in the first cabinet I looked.

I grabbed it and poured and it was out like a light.

Like a light with a switch. Not necessarily like a light with a flame, depending, of course, on what you’re burning and what you decided to use to try to put it out. (See above paragraph on the effectiveness of wind in sugar fires.)

I looked at J’s wide eyes and had that little moment when you nervously laugh because you know you just got away scot-free with something that could have turned really bad, really fast.

Okay, not scot-free. Because then, the fire alarm went off. And I had to go find the stupid fire alarm that decided to go off after the flames were officially out. And while I was looking for it, I noticed all the sprinkler heads sticking out of the walls and started hoping that living in an apartment building didn’t mean that the fire department would show up anyway and also that the sprinklers didn’t automatically turn on when the fire alarm does. Please don’t come on. I finally found the fire alarm down the hall and started waving frantically in it’s direction, while yelling for the kids to open the windows and turn on the fans.

Then, Felicity started crying.

And the fire alarm I was fanning and jumping from a chair to try to hit the buttons, started beeping at the torture. And then it was finally all silent.


So, now the kitchen smells like burnt sugar (Ooh, crème brûlée!) and the toilets are still dirty but I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we definitely have enough syrup for breakfast tomorrow.



Filed under I confess, I'm a pretend writer, Oversharing, This is going to be really funny one day

7 responses to “Wow, who knew sugar was so flammable?

  1. Anne

    Oh Rachel! So glad you were able to get it out quickly and fairly painlessly. (And I’m also glad that I’m not the only one who gets completely side tracked when using my stove…grilled cheese and boiling chicken breasts have been 2 nemisis’ of mine…:))

  2. Heather

    This is totally my life! I flit about from task to task and it can be downright dangerous! 🙂

  3. redchampagne

    Glad I’m not the only one.

  4. Jan

    I did that once with baby bottle nipples. Had a nice pan full of melted rubber and an awfully stinky house when I was done. I can’t boil water, but I can sure melt nipples!

    Glad you’re all okay.

  5. Jan

    (Yes, I’m old. We used to boil the nipples from the baby bottles. We’re talking 1973 here.)

  6. kathy

    I’m impressed. I also get distracted–easily. (I was once told that my train of thought is too easily derailed.) Anyway, I don’t know that I’d have thought of the baking soda thing. I’d have been too distracted. Well done. Glad you’re all ok–and the building wasn’t evacuated!!!

  7. I HATE electric stoves:-P The only time I ever set anything on fire is when it involves an electric stove (my first Thanksgiving I learned turkey juice, an aluminum pan and the coil at the bottom of an electric oven are not a happy combo!) and recently I made the mistake of attempting a project with paraffin wax instead of my usual soy and did you know that when paraffin mixes with boiling water it spills on to the electric burner beneath the pot which makes the burner very angry?:-/

    Luckily the damage was minimal (no fire extinguishers, the suppression system that came with the apartment didn’t work, and no baking soda), hubby killed the power to the kitchen since I couldn’t reach the knob to turn the burner off, and we ran outside after calling 911 but according to the fire chief flour also makes a good extinguisher:) Anyway, glad everything turned out ok and I hope the syrup came out good:)

    Me: Oh, I’m with you on the electric stove. You wouldn’t think it since gas has the open flame but it’s so true. Maybe a gas flame just makes more sense to our brains?

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