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Several TV chefs including, the late Julia Child, have advised against pouring liquor directly from the bottle to a pan to be ignited, as 'flames could travel up the stream and ignite the bottle' causing damage, injury or death.

Are there documented cases of this happening or is this simply "lawyering up"?

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migrated from Feb 17 '14 at 22:10

This question came from our site for professional and amateur chefs.

Surely you could get burned without it actually exploding, and without the part in the bottle having to combust; a good flare-up could still hurt. – Jefromi Feb 17 '14 at 18:26
@CarlD to explain what happened to your question: our site (, aka belongs to a larger network of question-and-answer sites on different topics. While the topic of your question is certainly about cooking, we moderators think that it is going to get more in-depth answers from the people who visit, so we migrated it to this site. It is still open to answers here, nothing bad has happened to it - but due to the rules, it can't be open here and on cooking simultaneously. – rumtscho Feb 17 '14 at 22:15
If you want to be able to leave comments and accept an answer, you will have to associate your account with Skeptics. Go to the registration page, select the same OpenID provider you used for cooking.stackexchange. The system will detect that you already have an account there, and will ask you to make an association. Accept, and you will be able to do the usual things here. – rumtscho Feb 17 '14 at 22:18

Flame can travel up the stream, that is not news. There are many hospital admissions every year from people trying to add some meths (ethanol + methanol, "lighter fluid" in USA) direct from bottle to the BBQ to get it going properly

The problem occurs more often if the bottle has a wide opening, then you get easy flame transfer up the stream and into bottle. The expanding gases of the flame pushes out the rest of the fuel. Very ugly!

With a smaller bottle opening this effect is somewhat reduced (hence USA "lighter fluid" sold in squirt bottle), or using a "nip" pourer on a liquor bottle. But it is still a problem

Liquor is typically around 40% alcohol, so less violent, but still very hazardous. Do what chefs do, and pour out a measured amount into a small glass (they have to account for the cost too)

Dailymail - Family suffer horrific burns from flambe

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