So here’s the burning question: are tortilla chips and potato chips highly flammable? Does Doritos burn and catch fire? The answer will surprise you!
There are several survival tools that you can use to start a fire. But did we ever think about using tortilla and potato chips for this purpose? Probably not.
These are some of the most popular snacks on the planet, so why would we ever imagine burning them?
But the truth is if you’re ever caught in a desperate situation where you need to light up a fire, and all you have are a bag of Doritos tortilla chips and matchsticks, you’re safe.
So does that mean Doritos burn? Is Doritos flammable?
Yes, Doritos tortilla chips are flammable. Due to their hydrocarbon and vegetable oil content, Doritos and other chips can burn and fire.
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What is Doritos?
When it comes to nostalgic childhood snacks, Doritos always come to mind. Frito-Lay first manufactured these delicious tortilla chips in the US in 1964. The tortilla chips were initially unflavored, but in 1966, Frito lay introduced toasted corn flavor, then Taco, and Nacho cheese in 1967 and 1972, respectively.
Doritos has such a colored history. Its origins can be traced back to Disneyland, where Frito Lay wanted to put up a Mexican restaurant called Casa de Fritos, which was later named Casa Mexicana and is now called Rancho del Zocalo.
One day, an Alex Food sales rep saw the staff throwing out leftover tortilla wraps. The sales rep said there’s a way to salvage those tortilla wraps by cutting and deep frying them. The restaurant was sold by the idea, so they started saving up stale tortillas and deep fried and sold them. Those were the first tortilla chips to be ever sold in the US.
Alex Foods and Frito Lay were impressed by the potential of making hefty profits off these in-demand chips, so they started mass-producing them.
Right now, Doritos has several flavor variants, including:
- Cool Ranch Doritos
- Spicy Nacho
- Flamin Hot Cool Ranch Doritos
- Chili Cheese Nacho
- 3D Crunchy Flavored Corn
- Salsa Verde
- White Cheddar
Most people agree that Doritos are pretty addictive. And we get it. Doritos are some of the best snacks in the world.
Fun fact: a “Dorito” is a Spanish word for “fried little golden thing.” How clever!
Are Tortilla Chips Flammable?
But let’s not stray from our original question: do Doritos burn? Can you use them as fire starters?
You probably have yet to experiment with burning Doritos. Who wants to burn their snacks in the first place? But through numerous experiments conducted by different people, we can say that Doritos are indeed flammable.
Want proof that Doritos catch fire? Watch this video below to find out:
The channel owner starts the experiment by putting a pile of tortilla chips into a plate. He takes a single chip and lights it up with a lighter. The chip starts to ignite and burn. He places that burning chip into the pile and gently places other unlighted chips over it until the fire grows and spreads.
He explains the role of Doritos as a fire starter. If you were in the woods and you didn’t have any fire starter, not even a single cotton ball, but you have a pack of Doritos, then you should be able to start a fire quickly.
You’ll need an ignition source, such as a lighter or matchsticks, and you use your favorite chips for kindling a fire. Very soon, you’ll see naked flame grow, and it continues to kindle and burn as long as you add fuel to it.
Why is Doritos flammable?
So we know that Doritos do start a fire and can burn hot, but what is the explanation behind this phenomenon? Why can you set fire to Doritos?
First, let’s consider what Doritos are made of. Depending on the flavor variant, each Dorito comprises at least 30 ingredients. There are artificial food colorings and seasonings to bring out the overall flavor in each variant. But which main ingredients make Doritos burn?
First, there’s ground corn. Tortilla chips are made of ground corn, and adding other flammable ingredients into the mix, like cornstarch, makes Doritos an even more excellent fire starter.
Next up, we have vegetable oil. Cooking oils are flammable, including vegetable oils. According to Doritos, they use three types of highly volatile cooking oils: sunflower oil, canola oil, and corn oil. These oils in each chip make Doritos burn long and consistently.
Let’s also forget that Doritos contain salt, which keeps the chips dry and easier to burn.
The combination of ground corn, vegetable oils, and salt roughly translates to Doritos being flammable. If you need to start a campfire and forgot to bring your usual fire starter, you could burn a couple of Doritos chips and see a fire burning in a few seconds.
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Are Potato Chips Flammable?
What if you prefer potato chips over tortilla chips? Is there any chance to build a fire with potato chips?
Yes, most potato chips should burn into flames. Following the logic behind the flammability of Doritos, let us remember that these chips are also comprised of potatoes, which are, in essence, a type of carbohydrate. As you know, carbohydrates contain energy, and that energy is activated when in contact with an ignition source, resulting in a flame.
Apart from the carb content in potato chips, they’ve also been deep-fried in oil and contain salt. This means that, like tortilla chips, you can also use potato chips to ignite a campfire.
What About Cheetos?
Cheetos is also a popular snack, so you’re also probably wondering if Cheetos burns when ignited.
The fact is, yes, Cheetos can light up and catch fire. The ingredients in Cheetos are almost similar to Doritos so you can take a chip, light it up, and expect a flame to build up soon.
How Long Does a Dorito Burn?
Interestingly, Doritos are the slowest burners among the chips we have compared above. Potatoes burn faster than corn-made chips, making Doritos a more ideal fire starter than others. It continues to kindle a blue flame until the chips are consumed with fire and turn ash.
As for the flavors, according to most informal experiments, there are no significant differences in how well Doritos burn based on the variant. Whether you’re burning zesty cheese or cool ranch, the fact they’re made with the same main ingredients — vegetable oil, ground corn, and salt, make them burn at an almost similar level.
Are Tortilla Chips Combustible?
Yes, tortilla chips like Doritos may spontaneously combust.
In 2018, a fire broke out in a tortilla chip factory in Austin, Texas, due to spontaneous combustion. According to the firefighters, discarded tortilla chips were ground to powder-like and placed inside boxes. Those chips were previously dredged in oil, making them highly flammable given the right conditions.
So when the weather got scorching hot, those powdered chip waste started combusting, causing a fire in the factory. So exposing these flammable chips to the right conditions makes them vulnerable to starting a fire.
If there’s one life hack we’ve learned, it’s that you can set your favorite chip snacks on fire. While these things are made for eating, if worse comes to worst and you need to get a fire started, you can take a bag of Doritos and layer the chips into a pyre to start a fire.