Things Not To Do, Oven Safety Edition

  1. If you are going to be leaning into the oven to check whether the Honey Baked Lentils and Raisin Bran Bread are done yet, don’t wear a metal necklace.
  2. If you already did it once and experienced a disturbing burning sensation everywhere the front portion of the necklace was touching your skin, don’t try it again!  What are you thinking?!

I guess what I was thinking (aside from being preoccupied with cooking) was that this never happened to me before, even though I wear necklaces somewhat often and have had this particular necklace for about 14 years, so it must be my imagination or something.  The second experience convinced me that it was, in fact, the necklace focusing the heat and burning me.  Also, my five-year-old son responded to my yelping and holding the necklace away from my collarbone with my fingernails, again, by saying in a concerned tone, “Mama, please take that off!”

How is it that, in all the decades of women wearing jewelry while baking–first the June Cleaver types all dressed up for their housewifely days, then the career women who don’t have time to change clothes before making dinner–and in all my years of at least occasional perusal of women’s magazines, I’ve never seen any safety warning about this?  It was pretty bad!  I leaned toward the 350-degree oven long enough to peer at the lentils through the glass lid and poke one loaf of bread with a chopstick, and in that time the little flowers on my necklace became hot enough to create dots of searing pain along my collarbone.  I pulled it away as soon as I could get my hands free and avoided lasting marks on my skin, but 12 hours later the spots are still stinging.

This is a cheap necklace, stylish in the Nineties, that I bought from Lerner New York.  All I can tell you is it’s made of some kind of metal with a shiny black finish and some kind of iridescent crystals about 1/8 inch in diameter.  The crystals form little flowers with metal backs.  The chain got noticeably hotter than my skin, but it was the flowers that became painfully hot.

Comments are open in case anyone cares to explain the science behind this phenomenon.


UPDATE: I’m linking this to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop.  Hop over there for 70+ articles about cooking!

5 thoughts on “Things Not To Do, Oven Safety Edition

  1. My understanding is that the metal necklace is a good conductor of heat, whereas your skin and clothing are not. When the radiant heat from the oven strikes your skin and clothing, it doesn’t get much deeper than the surface, but when it strikes the metal necklace it gets conducted throughout the metal, leaving the surface free to absorb more radiant heat, and more and more, until it burns you. This is why wearing riveted jeans by a campfire is a bad idea!

    Coefficients of thermal conductivity for common materials:

    The question that stumps me is, if aluminum is one of the better thermal conductors (better than iron and steel, for example), how come you can touch an aluminum baking pan, still in the oven, without getting burned, while an iron or steel pan will burn you?

  2. Becca! This has happened to me a few times. Now I know to continue to bend forward for a few seconds after to cool off the chain before I stand upright!!

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