Have you neglected your grill grates? If you're dealing with rusty grill grates already, or wondering how to make sure they don't get rusty, we have everything you ever wanted to know about making sure your grill grates are safe for use and ready to go every season.
We grill everything, all of the time, we're talking about grilling in the rain, sleety and snow. Before we rediscovered our love of grilling, we were dealing with a pretty old grill that had been neglected for some time. Here's everything we've learned along the way about dealing with rusty grill grates.
Are Rusty Grill Grates Safe?
While rusty grill grates will not harm you, it is important to makes sure that there are not loose pieces of rust that can attach themselves to food. This could become a choking hazard. If you need to use rusty grill grates in a pinch, be sure to completely brush off all of the surface rust and clean them as much as possible before using them.
You can use a wire brush or steel wool and scrub off all of the loose rust that has accumulated on your BBQ grate surface. This can be done with an old toothbrush if you are dealing with small areas, or use steel wool for larger sections.
The best thing to do, of course, is avoid rusty grill grates in the first place. Here's everything you need to know to make sure your grill grates stay in pristine condition, and the tips and tricks for dealing with them if they are already rusty.
Why do grill grates rust?
Grill grates rust because they are exposed to the elements. It can be a good idea to cover your grill when not in use, or at least give it a quick scrub down before cooking on it again.
If you are storing grill grates for an extended period of time, make sure they are completely dry and then store them inside until next season’s BBQ to avoid dealing with rust.
What causes grill grates to rust?
The science behind rusty grill grates is pretty simple. It has to do with the iron, or steel in your grill grates and how it reacts to oxygen. The more moisture gets onto the surface of the metal over time, it will start rusting as water is a great catalyst for this type of reaction.
Do stainless steel grill grates rust
Stainless steel grates are less likely to rust, but they are not immune. Stainless steel is a much more durable metal and can last for years with little or no maintenance required if you take the right precautions.
This depends on how your stainless steel grill grates were produced. If the stainless steel is more of a commercial grade, they are less likely to rust. It is worth noting that not all stainless steel grill grates are created equal and quality can vary.
In general, to prevent your stainless steel grill grates from rusting it is important to keep your grill clean by scraping anything off the grate after using it, and giving your grill grates a good cleaning once in a while.
How to remove rust from cast iron grill grates
If you need to remove rust from cast iron grill grates, here are some tips. Brush off any loose rust and then soak the grates in a pot of water with either white vinegar or lemon juice.
Let them sit overnight, scrubbing off anything that doesn’t come up on its own.
This will remove all traces of rust for good.
From there, after washing away any remaining residue, sprinkle some salt onto the grate and then pour some olive oil onto the salt. The mixture will help to remove any grease or residue left over from your previous cooking session and are rust-resistant, which is great for protecting cast iron grates.
After using your grill grates again, you can use a grill brush with wire bristles to scrub down the grate once more before wiping it off with paper towels.
The next step is to take care of your cast iron grill grates so they don't become rusty again!
How to maintain cast iron grill grates
When it comes to cast iron grill grates, they often get a bad reputation because they need the most maintenance out of all the different types of grill grates.
Truth be told, it is not that difficult to maintain cast iron grill grates. Once you get in the habit of caring for your grill grates it becomes quite simple.
First and foremost it to always clean your cast iron grates after cooking with them. Use a wire grill brush to scrub off any charred residue and then use paper towels or newspaper to wipe it down.
The next step is to prevent rusting of the grates by coating them with oil. For this you can use either mineral oil, cooking spray such as olive oil, vegetable oil or even bacon grease are all great options.
Be sure to wipe off any excess oil, and you're good to go. That's it!
How to prevent rust on grill grates
If you are looking to prevent rust on grill grates in the fist place, it all comes back to proper care for your grill grates. This can vary based on what material they are made of.
When it comes to porcelain or stainless steel grates, you are in luck because these are rust-resistant. You can keep them clean by wiping down with a damp cloth and then drying off any moisture that may be left behind to prevent water stains.
For cast iron grill grates, as long as they are well cared for over time there will be no issues with rust. The problems come when these grill grates are not maintained. Maintenance for cast iron grill grates consists of applying a thin layer of oil to the grill grates before each use and then wiping it off.
When you are done cooking, remove your food from them so that they are easier to clean in between uses. You can also apply mineral or flaxseed oil periodically throughout the year if needed.
For stainless steel grill grates, there is not much maintenance needed, although they can still rust. To prevent rust, they are usually coated with a non-stick finish which helps to protect the metal. There are also stainless steel grill grates that come pre-seasoned and are ready for use without any maintenance needed at all.
Porcelain coated grill grates are the only type of grill grates that will not rust, as long as you do not damage the porcelain coating. Damaging the coating will make the grill grates susceptible to rust.
Replacing your rusty grill grates
Don't feel like dealing with your rusty grill grates? The easiest thing to do is probably replace them. If you are looking for new grill grates, check out our recommendations for some of the most popular grills around.
Remember, there's a lot that goes into deciding what the best grill grate is for your grill, so be sure to check out our breakdown of the different materials grill grates are made of.