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Oven mitts are protective gloves used in cooking to handle hot pots, pans, and ovenware. There are several different kinds to suit every need, as well as different materials to choose from.
The most important feature of oven mitts is their ability to shield the hands from burns. Conventional, economic ones are made from materials treated with flame retardant finishes and are suitable for handling intermittent dry heat up to about 200°F (93.3°C). Mitts in this category are made from layers of material and insulation and are often quilted in appearance.
Neoprene oven mitts are made from the same material as wetsuits, offering a nice non-slip grip. This type of mitt is generally rated to protect up to 400°F (204.4°C). The outer construction is seamless, suitable for reaching into hot liquids. Neoprene ones are machine washable and can also be put in the dishwasher.
Silicone oven mitts present another choice for heavy-duty protection. They are made by an injection-mold process using food grade silicone. These mitts also feel rubbery, grip well, and are commonly rated to 500°F (260°C). Silicone oven mitts can also be used to reach into hot water or oil, and the non-porous material is completely hygienic. Like neoprene mitts, they do not stain and are dishwasher safe.
Some oven mitts are coated with a silicone spray to give them a non-stick finish. They are comparable to conventional quilted mitts. They are normally rated to about 200°F (93.3°C) and can also be used as freezer mitts.
Aside from a choice of material, oven mitts come in various lengths. Short ones are fine for lifting pots, but reaching in and out of the oven can result in a burned forearm. Longer mitts extend up the forearm to afford more protection.
If you like color in your kitchen, terry cloth or quilted oven mitts come in a variety of patterns and colors. Neoprene and silicone ones are available in solid colors, but because of their rubbery appearance, are not likely to be displayed like traditional mitts.