Fire has been the go to heating source for caterers since the introduction of chafing fuels in the early 1900’s. Fire is a hassle to work with and a hassle to be around. Also, every caterer has had a near accident or worst, been involved in a chafing fuel accident.
Additionally, caterers have to monitor the temperature of their, monitor whether the fuel has burnt out, and monitor the water level to ensure there is still water in the pan. All of these can cause issues at an event.
Based on two different chafing fuel manufacturer’s data sheets, their fuels should only be used in “well ventilated” areas. If the user does not use in a “well ventilated” area nasal and/or respiratory irritation will occur. Another manufacturer’s data sheeting reads “Harmful if inhaled”. Everyone who has been at a catered event has inhaled the fumes from a chafing fuel, we are all just a breath away from a harmful situation.
3. Environmental impact
Every year millions of chafing fuels are thrown away. Many time with some gel or liquid still inside the container. The leftovers leak into the soil, and depending on where the containers end up, it could get into our drinking water, our food, and/or the air we breath. These could all lead to poisonings from the hazardous chemicals used to heat the food.
4. Dangerous working environment
Working in the food service industry is more dangerous than many people believe it to. There are slippery spots all over the working environment, thus workers wear slip resistant shoes.
But the most dangerous aspect is the fires. Not for cooking food, but rather the open flames keeping the food warm. These flames are unnecessary, unsafe, and make for the most dangerous working environment. These flame heaters should be replaced by safer, fire free heating sources.
5. Cost more money
The last reason to never use a chafing fuel again is the cost. The cost of a chafing fuel is between $.75-2.00 per fuel. Some people will pay less and some more. But the hidden cost of using chafing fuels is staggering. The setup time for a caterer take between 30 minutes to 1 hour. Each dish take between 30-45 minutes, which requires at least 1 or 2 employees to setup. This setup cost the company valuable time before the event. The next hidden cost is cost of insurance. Open flames require the company to be covered at a higher level. Every employee deal with the chafing fuels has the potential to get burnt by the flame and even injured by the steam when replacing a dish. The last hidden cost is the time it takes to clean up after the event is over. The employees have to wait for the chafing fuels to cool down (approx. 10 minutes), find a place to dump the hot water out, and finally pack up the dishes. The total time for this could be up to an hour.
by Logan Hayford