If you’re planning to buy a pressure cooker, you must know that pressure cookers have plastic handles, unlike your usual pots and pans.
Why so? Let’s dig in deep to know more.
Why do pressure cookers have plastic handles?
Plastic is a bad conductor of heat and electricity. As a result, when the pressure cooker gets excessively hot, the plastic handles don’t conduct the heat, and the temperature remains standard. Hence, it is easier and safer to hold the plastic handles rather than the metal ones.
There can be multiple reasons for a pressure cooker to have plastic handles. Take a look below to know the advantages.
To protect hands:
The sole purpose of the plastic handles of a pressure cooker is to give protection to your hands against high heat.
If you cook for a long period, the pressure cooker will overheat, and often a metal hand tends to get as hot as the cooker since metal is a good conductor.
On the contrary, the plastic hands don’t receive heat and thus protect your hands while cooking.
Plastic is a wonderful insulator, that is, it can resist heat. Objects made of plastics don’t conduct heat or electricity.
As a result, when you’re cooking even at a temperature of 150-160 degrees centigrade, the handlers are able to withstand such temperature and offer you safety from heat.
Plastic materials are much cheaper than metal objects. It costs a lot to make metal handles and the pots made with metal handles are also more expensive than the pressure cookers.
Hence, a pressure cooker with plastic handles will not only protect your hands but will also help you save some extra bucks.
Manufacturers use good quality plastic to use as a handle. The usual plastic objects typically melt down when bringing closer to heat and fire.
However, plastic handles are made of Bakelite material which consists of sulfur and rubber. The overall structure is pretty convenient for the pressure cooker to keep the heat down.
Usually, the pressure cooker is a quite heavy object and it often takes an amount of effort to carry it. With the plastic handles, it reduces the chances of getting extra heavy and keeps it at an optimum weight.
Moreover, a pressure cooker tends to release a certain amount of pressure, which becomes easy and convenient due to plastic handles. The plastic handles thus lessen any extra heat and pressure from the pressure cooker.
What plastic is used to make pressure cooker handles?
A thermo-setting plastic called Bakelite is used to make pressure cooker handles. Bakelite is a stronger and more suitable material to use as a handle for the pressure cookers since bakelite doesn’t melt easily and its texture is not either.
By mixing sulfur and rubber, good quality bakelite plastic is produced.
The heat resistance of bakelite is much higher than the usual plastic materials and it also acts as an electric insulator. Hence, you’ll not catch electricity or get your hands burnt from the excessive heat of the pressure cooker.
You can use the plastic handles at high temperatures of 150-160 degrees centigrade as well. And touch them with pressure cookers without hurting yourself. However, keep in mind these are not suitable for oven use.
Why do pressure cooker handles not melt on heating though they are made of plastic?
A typical plastic will melt any time you bring it close to heat or fire. However, the plastic which is used in plastic handles of pressure cookers doesn’t tend to melt easily.
The reasons why pressure cooker handles do not melt on heating though they are made of plastic-
Bakelite doesn’t melt like other plastics when exposed to fire or high heat situations, because it was the first thermosetting plastic ever being made.
And the formula which was followed to make Bakelite is not the same formula used for the latter typical plastics.
The specialty of thermosetting bakelite plastic is that once it is formed, it doesn’t change its shape or melt when it faces high heat.
Whereas, you can reshape or change the structure of other plastic materials or they might even burst ruining into the fire.
The bakelite has a 3-dimensional structure and it itself is a whole molecule. When solid objects melt into liquid, the given energy causes the molecules to fall apart due to the weak forces between them.
However, the molecular force of bakelite is pretty strong and the heat which is used for cooking is not enough to break a whole molecule.
Bakelite plastic is composed of carbolic acid and formaldehyde. Carbolic acid and formaldehyde bond together to form a phenolic resin that has a molecular structure of one single giant molecule.
It has authenticity and a unique structure of its own. This composition is not seen in today’s plastic as they’re produced by injecting liquid resin.
When bakelite plastic receives excessive heat, they don’t melt or burn, rather some parts of it may start to decompose.
You may notice the pieces of plastic getting decayed as when it starts decomposing, it will move into the air as vapor molecules.
Is Bakelite used for making pressure cooker handles?
Bakelite is especially used to make pressure cooker handles due to its heat-resistant and electric-resistant characteristics.
Bakelite is an insulator that hinders any conduction of electricity and heat, thus, protecting your hands from getting burnt whatsoever.
Additionally, bakelite is comparatively lighter than other plastic materials. And it is successful in reducing the pressure that is formed inside the pressure cooker.
The mechanism which is used inside the pressure cooker that is high and steam causes the food to cook requires an element like bakelite so that the cooker doesn’t get overheated.
Is Bakelite a type of plastic?
Bakelite is a unique and oldest form of plastic. It was produced by using carbolic acid and formaldehyde which stops the plastic from not melting when receiving excessive heat.
Whereas, today’s plastic is not heat resistant and has a tendency to melt and reshape itself as they were not made with the same formula as the bakelite.
The bakelite plastic can’t melt or turn soft when it gets heated but it might decompose and fly into the air.
Why is a pressure cooker provided with a bakelite handle?
A pressure cooker is provided with a bakelite handle, because bakelite is heat and electricity resistant, and it doesn’t get hot when you’re cooking in the pressure cooker.
Thus, your hands will remain safe to touch the bakelite handle while cooking.
However, when metal is used as a handle, it becomes excessively hot causing you to burn your hands.
What material is best for a pressure cooker handle?
The best material for a pressure cooker handle is plastic undoubtedly as other elements like metals and stainless steel get hot when you cook on a stove. Then it becomes nearly impossible to touch the hot handles without burning your hands.
Bakelite material which is used for making pressure cooker handles is different from regular plastics. It doesn’t reform or change its shape when heat is applied to it.
Why do regular pots and pans use metallic handles instead?
Regular pots and pans use metallic handles instead because metals have high heat resistance.
And when you put them in the oven, they don’t get damaged easily. Whereas, plastic or wooden handles tend to damage or break easily when put in the oven.
Additionally, metallic objects are endurable, stylish, and have a longer lifespan. Heat and high temperature don’t affect metals as badly as plastic or wood.
Metals can withstand high temperatures staying intact and maintaining the beauty of your products.
Can you buy a pressure cooker handle replacement?
You can, however, buy a pressure cooker handle replacement.
While all companies may not come with this flexibility, but usually, when the handle is decomposed or damaged completely, you are to buy a new bakelite handle to replace the damaged one.
It may often occur to you that you have broken or damaged the plastic handle of the pressure cooker, and you don’t want to buy a brand new one. In such a case, you can contact your company, and ask for a handle replacement.
If your company doesn’t provide you with that service, you may yourself buy a new plastic handle and replace the old one.
How much does it cost to buy a pressure cooker handle replacement?
Of course, it’s not going to cost you a fortune to buy a replacement for your pressure cooker handle.
You can avail the average pressure cooker handle at a price range of 6$-8$. However, the prices may vary from company to company, depending on the quality, material, and endurance.
There are also expensive pressure cooker handles which you’ll get at a price range of 8$-11$.
What are the parts of a pressure cooker?
There are various parts of a pressure cooker depending on the type and company you’re buying from. To understand your pressure cooker parts, read the manual carefully. However, here are some basic parts of a pressure cooker-
- Vent Pipe
- Pressure regulator
- Sealing Ring
- Cooking Rack
- Pressure Regulator
- Overpressure Plug
- The body
Pressure cookers have plastic handles to give heat protection. This way the bakelite plastic gives you security against the high heat and makes it comfortable to move and lift the pressure cooker whenever needed. Making it durable and cost-effective for the manufacturer.