How to use a chafing dish with Sterno

Chafing dishes exist in different types and shapes in the market today. They come in round, oval, square, and rectangular shapes and can either be standard or round food warmer chafing dishes and are accompanied by a water pan and a wire.

The water pan is placed on the rack and filled with hot water, while the chafing dish is placed above the water pan. The Sterno can is then placed under the pan and ignited. A Sterno is a brand of jellied or chafing dish fuel, denatured alcohol sold in a can meant to be burned directly in its can. 

Generally, Sterno cans are available in different types in the market today. i.e.,2-hour Sterno safe heat with power pad and 6-hour Sterno stem wick, among others. Understanding the one to use and how it is supposed to be used is very important. Sterno cans are generally available in hardware stores and party supply stores.

Remember that you should never light the Sterno before pouring water into the water pan. Hence, the heat source heats the water, creating the steam and keeping your food hot.

The chafing dish and Sterno should not be used without the water pan. The water pan is responsible for keeping the food warm since it is heated by the steam generated by the heated water.

How long does it take to heat food with a Sterno?

Sternos come in different types, with each having its description on how they are to be used and the duration they take to heat food.

One can of 3oz of Sterno should last from 60 to 90 minutes, while one can of 7oz of Sterno should last up to 2 ½ hours. The denser the food tray, the longer it will take to heat up.

Instead of heating everything using a Sterno at once, start with the densest items. i.e., pasta with sauce, vegetables, and beef items, generally takes about 1 hour, while seafood ranges between 45 minutes and 1 hour. The time may increase or decrease depending on the density of the food.

How do you light a Sterno?

When lightening a Sterno, pull on the wick located on the fuel well for more accessible lightning; however, if you are using gel-based Sterno, light the gel fuel carefully by touching a match or lighter near the exposed gel.

Do not light the sternos before filling the water in the water pan to ensure consistent heat during food heating.

Ensure you rinse your hands under cold water to remove any fuel from them and thoroughly dry your hands.

Can you cook directly over a Sterno?

The Sterno website has a consumer FAQ that cautions you against cooking directly over a Sterno flame because dripping food can cause flareups.

However, they imply that Sterno is fine for cooking since the liquid inside the can is sealed and is nonflammable, even if it may spill out when you shake the can.

How do you heat food with a Sterno?

First, put about 2 inches of hot water in the most significant water pan. Next, place the cover over the food pan after loading the previously cooked food into the food. Lastly, pop the lids off the Sterno fuel and put them into the Sterno cup holders after popping the covers off the Sterno fuel cans.

Sterno heats the pan of water underneath the chafing dish. Its warm steam keeps food warm.

Sterno Canned Heat, Gel Chafing Fuel 6 Cans(7 OZ...
929 Reviews
Sterno Canned Heat, Gel Chafing Fuel 6 Cans(7 OZ...40
  • Each can burns for up to 2-hours and consistently delivers the...
  • Resists spilling if accidently Tipped
  • Ignites Immediately with the touch of fire and burns steadily
  • Smart can tells you when it is too hot to handle
  • Packaging may vary

Final Thoughts

Sternos are safe to use since they have a can that is easy to handle and stays calm when lit, enabling you to touch it. The wick design also means that the fuel will not ignite if split, preventing unnecessary accidents which may lead to loss of lives.

Its clean-burning feature makes it safe for cooking, giving you ample time to present a professional food presentation when using chafing dishes to display your food in buffets. Pick your desired Sterno and treat your guests with great tasting-cuisines.