Anyone that likes to cook understands that mishaps happen. Especially if you are first learning how to do something. 

As someone that enjoys cooking, I should have known that purchasing a second-hand popcorn maker might not be the best idea. However, I like trying to be as sustainable as possible, so I figured cleaning up a used machine rather than buying a whole new one would be smart. Unfortunately, I wasn’t informed that the reason the machine was no longer being used was because it was having problems. 

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I was so excited when I first got the machine. It was one of those hot-air popcorn makers that you just plug in and let do its thing until all the kernels pop. I got it nice and clean, bought some kernels and movie theatre butter, and was ready to enjoy some fresh, homemade popcorn.  

Following the directions, I put the kernels into the machine, set a bowl by the opening to collect the popcorn, and plugged it in. The machine starts up and I'm taken aback by how loud it is. Imagine a hair dryer on steroids. Obnoxiously loud.  

I'd never used one of these before, so I didn’t know if that level of noise was normal. Assuming it was fine, I let it keep running.  

Only a couple second later, what looks like a puff of flames comes out of the bottom vent of the machine for a split second. It couldn’t have been running for any more than 15 seconds, no kernels had popped yet, and smoke is coming out of the top.  

The moment I see smoke I unplug it. The machine stops, but the smoke doesn’t quit.  

My partner, who’s been observing from the living room, springs up and opens up the house to let the smoke out. Once we get the doors open, I pause and stare at the machine for a moment longer. There are no flames, but the slightest bit of smoke is still coming out.  

Not taking any chances, I carefully pick it up, holding it at arm’s length, and bring it outside to the trash. I pour out the kernels, noticing that none of them are burnt, and gently set the popcorn maker into the trash, leaving the lid propped open to let out any remaining smoke.  

I watch and wait for the smoke to finally stop, head back inside, and have a good laugh with my partner. Thankful that I didn’t set the whole kitchen ablaze.  

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