You're excited to try out your new air fryer, only to find out - it stinks, literally! If your air fryer has a strong plastic smell when you first use it, you're not alone. It's a common issue, especially when you first start using your air fryer for it to give off a bad smell. Here's why it happens and what to do about it.
- 🤔What is an air fryer?
- 🧰Components of an air fryer
- 1️⃣First time using an air fryer
- 🙋♀️Possible causes of a plastic odor coming from your air fryer
- 1. Newness
- 2. Heating elements
- 3. Poor-quality materials
- 4. Leftover cooking smells
- 🙅♀️How to get rid of the plastic-like smell from your air fryer
- 1. Clean the air fryer
- 🚫Gluten Intolerance Resources
- 2. Ventilate the area
- 3. Seasoning process
- ✅More Resources
- 4. Give it time
- 5. Buy the best air fryer you can afford
- 6. Follow manufacture's instructions
- 🍑Bottom line on plastic smell in air fryer
- Want more?
- 💬 Comments
🤔What is an air fryer?
An air fryer is an amazing kitchen appliance with the ability to make so many different delicious foods and healthy meals!
What's super interesting is that it's really just a mini convection oven. Convection ovens are great because they reduce cooking time by essentially blowing hot air around.
🧰Components of an air fryer
An air fryer has three main components:
- The heating element or heating coil
- The fan
- and the cooking chamber (aka where the basket or trays go)
The heating element is responsible for generating the heat needed to actually cook the food. It's like the engine that powers the air fryer.
The fan, on the other hand, is what circulates the hot air inside the cooking chamber. The fan helps distribute the heat evenly, ensuring that the food is cooked thorough.
The cooking chamber is the space where you actually place the food. It's usually a basket or tray (like mine) that allows the hot air to flow around the food from all sides, giving it that crispy texture we all love.
In terms of plastic parts, many air fryers have plastic mold-injected parts as part of their construction.
These parts are typically used for the outside of the air fryer, control panel, handles, and other non-heating components.
Plastic molding is a pretty common manufacturing technique that allows for precise shaping and customization of parts.
It provides durability, insulation, and makes the air fryer look nice on your countertop😉
But the inside cooking chamber and heating elements are typically made of metal, such as stainless steel, to stand up to the high temperatures involved in air frying.
1️⃣First time using an air fryer
You got an air fryer! Congrats🥳
Getting to use your first air fryer is also an opportunity to do it right.
Two tips before you actually make that first crispy french fry or juicy chicken breast:
- Read that manual! Ok, I know no one actually reads those booklets that come with appliances, cars and literally every electronic we buy but hear me out! It's not a bad idea to take a flip through your air fryer's manual to pick up some tips and tricks specific to your make and model for before you start to use it, cleaning and cooking
- Before you start cooking, make sure to give the cooking chamber a cleaning. It's always a good idea to wash it with warm soapy water and dry the inside of your new air fryer properly. This will remove any dust or residue from the manufacturing process and help make sure your food comes out fresh and delicious
🙋♀️Possible causes of a plastic odor coming from your air fryer
If your air fryer is emitting a plastic-like smell, there could be a few causes.
Let's explore some possible reasons why your air fryer stinks:
If you just purchased your air fryer, congratulations! I think you're going to find you'll get a TON of use out of it. But what about that plastic-like smell?
The thing is: it's not unusual for any new appliance to have a distinct odour when they're used for the first few times.
This smell can resemble a plastic smell or a chemical scent. This is often related to the actual materials used in making the air fryer.
Many air fryers have various plastic pieces that are heat resistant plastic or can have protective coatings applied in the last stages of manufacturing.
Some of that protective coating can give off a plastic like smell when heated, even if only a little bit. (The highest temperatures are actually in the air fryer, which is made with metal typically, not plastic.)
You can also get a whiff of an unpleasant smell from the packaging material too. When new appliances are made, residual coatings or protective films are used and simply opening up the box of the air fryer will allow those smells to escape.
Even when I opened my new air fryer to put the various pans or baskets inside, there was that plastic-like smell. In most cases, the smell shouldn't be there after a few uses.
For me personally, it took a short break-in period of about a week (or about 4 uses of the air fryer) and now I don't have that smell at all.
2. Heating elements
When looking specifically at the "hardware" in an air fryer, the heating element could be a source of a foul or chemical-like smell.
Air fryers use heating elements to generate the hot air needed for cooking.
If you find a plastic-like smell is there after the first few uses, it's possible that the heating element itself is producing the odour.
Over time, the heating element can build up with grease, pieces of food, or other spills, which may produce an unpleasant smell when heated up.
Regular cleaning of the heating element can help prevent this problem.
3. Poor-quality materials
Alright, I'm just gonna come out and say it: not all air fryers are created equal.
And by that I mean, some are just crappy. They're cheap and you get what you pay for: some are made with low-quality and / or sub-standard materials. These low quality air fryers can might give off a chemical smell while they're being used.
But here's the thing: air fryers should not continue to give off a plastic burning smell after the first few uses.
If the plastic odour smell sticks around and doesn't fade over time, it's possible that the appliance is made with subpar components or materials that release odors when exposed to high temperatures.
If you find yourself in this situation, it may be worth considering a replacement or reaching out to the manufacturer directly to see what can be done.
4. Leftover cooking smells
Air fryers are made to cook food quickly and efficiently.
But some foods, especially those with strong smells, can leave behind lingering odours.
(I'm lookin' at you, salmon!🐟)
If you've been cooking items with strong spices, oils, or sauces, the odor can get into the appliance and give off a plastic-like smell.
Regular cleaning of the cooking basket, trays, and other parts can help reduce these funky smells that stick around.
🙅♀️How to get rid of the plastic-like smell from your air fryer
1. Clean the air fryer
This may seem obvious but it's something people skip often: you gotta regularly clean that air fryer!
Everything needs to be wiped down - ideally after each use.
All parts need to wiped with a soft cloth soaked in warm, soapy water.
Clean all parts with a damp cloth, including:
- the interior walls, including the top interior walls
- the heating element
- Cooking basket
- Oven rack (if applicable)
- Baking / drip pan (if applicable)
- Trays (if applicable)
Use warm soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge or cloth to clean these different components.
- If you have basket-style air fryer, be sure to clean the walls of the air fryer after taking the basket(s) out.
- If you have a "rack style" air fryer like I do, don't forget to clean the top inside of the air fryer. Grease can build up around the top where the fan runs and that can cause smoking in the air fryer convection oven.
🚫Gluten Intolerance Resources
2. Ventilate the area
In general, when using many kitchen appliances that generate a large amount of heat, it's always a good idea to keep the kitchen well ventilated.
For the air fryer specifically, this is important to make sure your kitchen is and stays ventilated. This will help make sure that plastic or other unpleasant smells have somewhere to go - other than your nose!
A few options for keeping the air flowing in your kitchen area are to:
- Open windows
- Turn on the exhaust fan
- Or if you have it, use a kitchen hood
Keeping windows open or exhaust fans on is particularly important when using the air fryer for the first time or first few times. This can be when the smells coming out of the air fryer are the strongest.
3. Seasoning process
Some air fryers may benefit from a seasoning process before the first use.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions to properly season your air fryer, if it calls for it.
Although an extra step, this can be a way to help get rid of any leftover odors as a result of the manufacturing process.
My Heritage Air Fryer Convection Oven by StarFrit recommends running the air fryer for 20 minutes at 450 degrees F empty once everything is set up. During this running of the air fryer for the first time, the plastic or other unpleasant odor may be strongest.
Keep your windows and / or exhaust fans on during this process.
4. Give it time
Although no so pleasant, any funky fumes coming out of your new air fryer will very likely be temporary.
If you follow your air fryer's instructions for seasoning or an initial run; clean appropriately and use some form of ventilation during use, the smell should fade over time.
If the smell is still there after a few uses, keep using the air fryer as normal for a few more cooks.
Often the odor will really go down over time as the appliance gets used and any manufacturing residues burns off the heating elements or other parts of the air fryer.
5. Buy the best air fryer you can afford
If you're looking to buy an air fryer, keep quality in mind. At a certain price point and beyond, the air fryers are really just more expensive because they're bigger or have more bells and whistles.
But under about the $100 mark, these appliances may not be made with the best materials.
I'm not knocking cheap and cheerful products but safety is the #1 concern and if you're experiencing plastic-y smells that won't go away with your current air fryer, I say spend the most you can afford on the highest quality make or model for your next one.
6. Follow manufacture's instructions
You know that lovely little instruction booklet you get with every single thing you buy these days?
Well, your air fryer came with one too and it might actually pay off to read it😅
Includes instructions on how to clean, run, care for, troubleshoot, etc. I learned that my trays and baskets are NOT dishwasher safe - gosh who knew?!
The instruction booklet states:
"NOTE: Run the air fryer oven empty for 20 minutes to remove any protective substances from the heating elements. Ensure the area is well ventilated as the air fryer oven may emit vapours. These vapours are safe and are not detrimental to the performance of the air fryer oven."
🍑Bottom line on plastic smell in air fryer
Your air fryer will likely last a long time, giving you years of delicious food. When you first start to use it, you may get a "new air fryer smell" but you probably don't have to worry about it.
A plastic odor is common when you first start using the air fryer.
After running it a couple of times, unpleasant odors should fade. Cleaning the air fryer regularly will help get rid of any bad smells too.
Remember, if you have concerns about the smell or suspect a safety issue, it's always a good idea to consult the manufacturer's instructions or contact their customer support for guidance specific to your air fryer model.
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