Strangely, putting an exhaust hood over your stove is not required by the building code in California. But everyone does it anyway. Who wants cooking smells to linger for days?
It turns out there is an even more compelling reason for those range hoods—to safeguard your health.
Bad stuff in the air
The most benign product of cooking is moisture. Water is clearly not toxic, but too much of it in your home might lead to mold problems.
Gas stove and oven combustion results in carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Also, hot oil can produce formaldehyde. The amounts may be small, but these are not things that are healthy to breath.
What doesn’t work
Those exhaust fans built into microwave ovens that just recycle the air back into your kitchen won’t help. Hoods that don’t cover the whole stove or are installed way above your head don’t do a great job either.
So, what is a health-conscious person to do?
What works better
The best way to make sure all these noxious fumes are not breathed in by you or your family is to have a big range hood, close to the stove, turn it on before you start cooking, and connect it to a vent which goes outdoors.
If you are planning a kitchen remodel you might consider induction stovetops and electric ovens. Then you wouldn’t be creating natural gas combustion fumes. This could very well become the future of cooking.
An exhaust hood would still be smart for removing moisture, smells, and fine cooking particles. Just watch that you don’t bump your head on it.
photo by Christopher Aloi