A range hood, also known as exhaust hood or kitchen hood, is device hung over the kitchen stovetop or cooktop. A range hood typically consists of a chute and a mechanical fan to aid in suction. Talking of suction, there are harmful byproducts of cooking lingering in the air, and this is what the range hood is for.
Household air contaminants
The most common things in the air inside your house and kitchen include:
Kitchens that burn gas to cook can cause a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide in the air if not properly ventilated. This air becomes risky to breathe and has caused numerous deaths.
Cooking can result in vapor buildup in the kitchen and the house at large. If not checked excess vapor in the air can cause discomfort in hot weather.
Cooking pots give off odors of all kinds when cooking. Some of these odors can hang around the house for days. Simply put, your guests will know if you made fish tacos the other night. Seafood is also a culprit here.
When cooking oil is heated, it gives of aldehyde (a chemical toxin closely related to formaldehyde). When heated for up to 10 minutes, sunflower, corn, and extra virgin olive oils are known to give off high concentrations of this toxin.
Food, grease, or even detergents burning on the stove produce fumes with varying degrees of toxicity. Whereas these toxins aren’t a nuisance to many of us, they are not healthy for anyone’s breathing environment. In fact, 80% of all cancer cases are linked to environmental, rather than genetic factors. Sadly, most of the carcinogenic chemicals are found in household cleaning products.
These substances necessitate the use of a kitchen hood (whether circulating or vented) to keep the house fresh and healthy. This is of course quite a milestone if you’re living in a rented house without a kitchen range hood or without adequate space to mount one. Given the cost of installing a ducted range hood in a temporary household, many people prefer a recirculating hood.
A recirculating hood makes use of filters to clean out the air as it circulates through it. This option is power-intensive as a higher-rated motor is required for the fan. Worse still, the filters have to be changed often when they get used up. This is a continuing cost for the tenant.
If the above options don’t suit you, you can go without a hood and still enjoy clean air in the kitchen and the house. Let us see how.
Next read: Wall mount range hood review
9 ways that you can work through a kitchen without a range hood
If your kitchen is smoky or it makes the house smelly, you can still go around this without breaking the bank. Below are some common and uncommon techniques you can use. These tips are also applicable to homes with a minimalist design. Check them out-
1. Window fan
If your kitchen space affords a window, then this is the way to go for you. You just need to install a window fan. Whenever cooking, just draw the curtain and turn on the fan in exhaust mode. This method is great with odors from cooking but not with grease. Nevertheless, the window fan is much more efficient than the non-venting recirculating fans installed under cabinets. These under-cabinet fans are near-useless for most users.
2. A portable HEPA-grade air purifier
This is a great option for those kitchens that lack a window. The HEPA air filter effectively traps odors from frying fish and searing steaks. The filters in this device need to be changed often, for optimal performance and longevity of the equipment.
3. A fan in a nearby room
In most houses and apartments with a small kitchen, the washroom is usually directly opposite the kitchen. Install any efficient moving fan in the bathroom and turn it on while cooking. Ensure the fan is blowing air outwards, and not the opposite. A low rated fan can do tremendously well when being run this way for extended periods. All the lingering odors and smoke will clear within no time, with the fan on.
4. A grease splatter guard
This is a guard that fits closely over the frying pan to deter grease from splattering while cooking. This method also promotes hygiene by reducing the amount of goo that would have ended up on the stovetop. You should not spend more than $10 on a good grease splatter guard.
5. Keep the cabinets clean
If you do not have a range hood, this is an unavoidable part, the only difference being how often you do it. The splatter from boiling grease makes it necessary to clean the cabinet area more often than most. Depending on how often you cook and the cooking methods, you should make a daily or weekly routine to clean the cabinets. In fact, it should always be your last task when doing the dishes. For the areas around the stovetop, use a vinegar solution to wipe away the grease. You can also use any dish soap with grease-cutting ability, but be sure to rinse it off properly. Any dish soap left around the stovetop can give off toxins when heated.
6. Sweet-odor cooking smells
Getting rid of those nasty smells doesn’t have to involve circulating air. You can replace them with nice smelling cooking smells! How convenient. The best of this can be achieved by simmering or slow-cooking a blend of spices or citrus cuts for an hour. Other sweet-smelling spices include cinnamon, rosemary, vanilla, and cloves. Orange and lemon peels can be simmered too.
7. Paint with a scrapable paint
Even though your cabinets and stovetops must be maintained in mint clean condition, you surely do not want to deal with paint coming off the surfaces due to scrubbing. Invest in a scrapable paint or apply a satin or semi-gloss finish after every repaint. The scrapable paint allows you to clean walls and cabinets thoroughly as required.
8. Purchase a carbon monoxide meter (CO meter)
Sometimes it’s not the odors from cooking, but the carbon monoxide from gas stoves that is of concern. A poorly ventilated kitchen can easily accumulate CO to toxic levels. If you’re in such a house, or kitchen, you should invest in a CO meter to monitor CO levels.
9. Explore alternative cooking methods
We know that various foods and cooking methods produce dirt around the cooking area differently. Although cooking differently may be hard to implement, try doing things like boiling water in an electric kettle for meals that require hot water. You can also arrest splattering by partly ‘covering’ meals that do better when not covered. This can be done with an oversized glass cover so that it rests by the pot handles. This doesn’t really cover the food, at least during cooking.
Summing it up
Kitchens without range hoods may not be the best idea, but you may have to live with the fact. The above ideas can brighten your life by ensuring an atmosphere of freshness at an affordable cost. Do not let yourself get limited- try one or several of these solutions today.
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Rita C. Donnell (Jennifer) has spent the last 26 years studying and practicing nutrition science. She has used a larger part of this time in improving people’s livelihoods. She has done so by coming up with unquestionable ideas on how to tackle food problems in her community. Readmore