The Dangers Of Using Oven Mitts With Wet Hands

The kitchen can be a magical yet dangerous place. Between sharp knives and hot surfaces, nicking a finger or burning a hand happens from time to time — even to professional chefs. Ideally, you make an effort to practice safe cutting techniques and take advantage of culinary safety equipment, but accidents happen, and sometimes, the things we depend on to protect us can actually end up hurting us.


That might sound cheesy, but if you've ever been burned when using an oven mitt or pot holder, it feels like a betrayal. Reaching into the oven with a covered hand only to be burned is shocking and hard to shake off, not to mention dangerous. It can be much more than disappointing if your skin is left seriously scorched, potentially warranting a trip to the hospital.

Thankfully, there's one simple step toward safely using protective hand coverings in the kitchen. To avoid being hurt by a perfectly good oven mitt, you should avoid getting it wet.

Water transfers heat painfully well

While some people might think that cooking burns are most often caused by blazing flames that engulf the stovetop, the reality is much less dramatic. According to the American Burn Association, from 2013 to 2017, the most common cooking-related burns that required emergency medical treatment were caused by contact with a hot range, oven, or cookware. This is why proper hand protection is essential in the kitchen.


Designed to limit heat conduction, oven mitts are usually made from thick, heat-resistant materials or padding that serve as insulated barriers between your skin and hot surfaces. However, how well they work depends on their condition and how you use them. Whether it becomes damp from steam that wooshes out of the open oven or absorbs water from your hands after you've washed them, a wet oven mitt can be very dangerous. This is because water conducts heat, counteracting the effectiveness of oven mitts in limiting heat conduction.

As a result, picking up hot cookware with a wet oven mitt or pot holder can lead to serious burns. Dr. Adriana Petrova, who participated in research on oven mitt safety at Oklahoma State University (OSU), told OSU News and Media, "If the oven mitt or your hand was wet and the oven mitt was exposed to oven temperatures of 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 400 degrees Fahrenheit, a third-degree burn could happen in as little as one second, depending on the material." 


To protect yourself, you should always dry your hands before putting on oven mitts. It's also best to avoid storing or setting down your pot holders next to the sink or on any wet surface. With care and caution, you can prevent this common kitchen mishap and better protect yourself from cooking burns.