I've seen numerous videos claiming to show this without blistering effects, cringing pain, or skin burns as if it was a unique skill and not just trickery -- something anyone can do with practice,

This guy even seems to hold boiling oil: Unbelievable Pathan Put His Hand in Hot Boil Oil

Here it is an article in the Pakistan Times that makes the claim that it is possible to put your hand in boiling oil. DailyMail has reported on it in Pakistan. They seem to claim it needs to be practiced,

And Singh now hopes his sons will keep up the eateries tradition of the hand fryer. He added: 'They can do it too. It is just about practice. If they keep trying and experimenting, they will get there.'

DailyMail reported on it in India. Metro.co.uk reported on a chef in Thailand doing this (video above).

  • It may be that when the cook touches the oil, he does so only briefly and has a coating of batter or something on his hands to protect from the heat and the oil. I would also question the quality of the sources, which themselves should explain how it's possible.
    – A L
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 17:57
  • A preliminary check says "no, the oil isn't hot enough to do this", but I haven't been able to find any analysis of oil in particular. The usual trick is to wet your hand and stick it in molten lead, and the Leidenfrost effect generates a steam layer that protects you from the heat. However, it doesn't look like boiling oil is hot enough to generate a stable steam layer.
    – Mark
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 22:37
  • Here's a listing of how to perform these tricks (and that's all they are, TRICKS): carvaka4india.com/2011/12/performing-miracles-with-fire.html
    – JasonR
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 11:22

2 Answers 2


This is nothing but trickery. In this particular case, it appears that they have a liquid in there that has a much lower boiling point, is heavier than the oil, has the same appearance as the oil, and it is boiling to give the appearance that the oil is boiling. In this particular case, lemon juice is the common liquid used.

Experiment – 22

Effect: The hand is dipped in boiling oil without getting burnt

Props: One frying pan to hold about two liters of oil, one liter cooking oil, stove and one lemon (big).

Method: Pour the cooking oil in the pot with the lemon juice squeezed in the oil stealthily. Place it on the fire. Before the oil get hot and boiling, the lime juice settled at the bottom of the pot boils first and oil appears to bubble when the steam is released. It seems as if the oil is boiling hot. Immerse your hand in the oil and take it out. The boil will be only warm and not boiling, though it looks like boiling oil to the viewers.

This is a relatively well known phenomenon amongst people who practice scientific skepticism and debunk charlatans. The dismaying thing is the credulity with which the press reports these stories...

The other "trick" is also detailed on the experiment. Basically, you put one thing in, and it absorbs heat as you get the other thing out. In this case, it's "poories" instead of chicken, fries, or fish, but the principle is the same.

Experiment – 23

Effect: Frying poories in boiling oil and taking them out by hand.

Hot bajjis are being taken out of boiling oil with bare fingers

Props: Wheat flour or maida flour, water, plate, instrument to make poories, cooking oil and a stove.

Method: Prepare poories with the flour (one dozen). Boiling the oil, put in the oil, poories and as soon as it is fried, put underneath the fried poorie an unbaked one and pick up the fire one by fingers, it will not burn. Beforehand apply the same oil on your hand.

The science behind this feat is that when you put a fresh poorie under the fired one, the heat of the top oil is absorbed by the fresh one, and your fingers will not et burn. The oil applied on the hand before dipping also insulates the hand.

I should add, as the web page I pulled this from also states it:

(Note: Those items involving fire and other dangerous substances should be performed only under proper guidance)

In other words, don't do this yourself kiddies! It's still dangerous, especially if you mess it up. Remember, this is an area of the world that loves their supernatural explanations as opposed to rational explanations. Sanal Edamaruku faced up to three years of imprisonment for showing a "weeping" statue was actually due to a backed up sewer line...


According the video I Dipped my Hand into Boiling Hot Oil - Leidenfrost Effect? by Physics Girl on YouTube this is in fact the Leidenfrost Effect. In the video the conditions are recreated and hands are submerged in boiling oil.

  • That video itself concludes that it's not entirely the Leidenfrost Effect, but that it's also the thermal conductivity of oil. Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 6:25
  • 2
    And she's preparing her hand by dipping it in water first, and she is dipping, not 'submerging'. The unqualified "yes you can submerge because Leidenfrost" in this answer is grossly negligent and hazardous. Please qualify appropriately!
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 7:09

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