Lighting a gas-powered deep fryer is part of the daily routine for restaurant cooks, but it can be intimidating if you've just purchased or rented one for the first time. Commercial restaurant-style models all follow the same basic ignition procedure, whether you're using it indoors in a rented facility or outdoors with a portable propane tank. Open-burner turkey fryers are less sophisticated, but still require caution and close attention to safety while you're lighting them.
Items you will need
- Cooking oil
- Long butane candle lighter
- Owner's manual
Outdoor Deep Fryer
Fill the oil reservoir of the outdoor deep fryer to the appropriate level for that deep fryer model. Most deep fryers have a fill line on the inner wall of the oil reservoir for easy reference. Adding the oil before lighting reduces the chance of pouring oil onto an open flame.
Switch the gas valve and temperature gauge on the deep fryer to the "Off" position and connect the gas hose to the deep fryer. An adjustable crescent wrench is all that is needed to tighten the retainer bolt on both ends of the hose. Check for leaks by soaking the connections at the tank and regulator valve with soapy water, then opening the tank's valve just 1/4 turn. If bubbles begin to form, gas is escaping. Tighten your connections, and try again until you have a good seal.
Turn the gas on at the source tank and set the burner control to high heat or light position if the deep fryer has one. The gas tank should be at least 3 feet away from the burner at all times.
Light the burner by sparking the flame of a long butane candle lighter and moving it toward the edge of the burner until it ignites. Quickly move your hand and the lighter back when you see the flames ignite to avoid burns. Better still, wear a heatproof glove to protect your hand.
Adjust the burner control to the desired level to begin heating the oil. A large vat of oil can take as long as 30 minutes to reach temperatures above 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Indoor/ Commercial Fryer Pilot
Fill the oil reservoir of the deep fryer to the appropriate level for that deep fryer model. Most deep fryers have a fill line on the inner wall of the oil reservoir for easy reference. Adding the oil before lighting the pilot reduces the chance of pouring oil onto an open flame.
Review the owner's manual for the specific model of deep fryer you are lighting. Some models have very specific instructions regarding safety and operational sequence. With rentals the manual might not be available, but most models have ignition instructions printed on the inside of the door where the pilot is located.
Switch the gas valve and temperature gauge on the deep fryer to the "off" position and connect the gas hose to the deep fryer. An adjustable crescent wrench is all that is needed to tighten the retainer bolt on both ends of the hose. If you're using the indoor fryer in a rented facility, it will already have a fixed gas connection and this step can be skipped.
Turn the gas valve to the "Pilot" position and hold the control knob in or press the electronic ignition according to the manufacturer's directions. Deep fryers with manually lit pilots will require that you stick the tip of a long candle lighter into a hole near the base of the machine to extend a flame to the pilot light valve. Refer to the owner's manual for the exact location of the pilot light on the model you are using.
Allow the pilot light to burn for at least two minutes before increasing the temperature on the deep fryer to around 200 degrees F. This will allow gas to flow to the burner below the oil reservoir. The burning pilot light will light the burner.
Increase the temperature to the desired level after you hear the burners ignite to heat the oil for frying. The pilot light will remain lit between uses to instantly light the burners when the deep fryer is turned on.
Block wind with large pieces of cardboard, if the flame on an outdoor fryer is repeatedly blown out. Wrap the cardboard in heavy-duty foil, or keep it at least 18 inches from the flames, to reduce the chances of combustion.
Some deep fryers now include electric or piezo-electric ignition, so it's not necessary to light the pilot by hand.
Occasionally, the flow of gas to your burner will extinguish your pilot light. If that happens, turn off the gas, leave the fryer's front door open, and wait 5 to 10 minutes for the gas to disperse before beginning the ignition sequence again.
Keep a working fire extinguisher within reach any time you are boiling large amounts of oil over an open flame. Spills and flareups are dangerous, and cause serious injury.
- flame image by vashistha pathak from Fotolia.com