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gas grill flare-ups
What Causes Uncontrolled Grease Fires?
As with the smaller flares, grease is the major contributing factor to these more enormous bursts of flames.
Whether it is from oily marinades or too many years of cooking 70/30 hamburgers, the grease can build up until the grill is a nearly unusable flame hazard. Until you give your grill a deep cleaning, you'll continuously fight the flame issues. You'll also notice that everything you cook on that grill is covered in a thin, greasy layer of burned smoke.
What Should You Do When It Flares?
The first thing to do -- if you can do it safely -- is to lift the lid. Opening the lid lowers the heat inside the grill and allows the flames to calm down.
Sometimes a piece of wood or a broom handle can be used to lift the grill's lid safely.
From there, you may wish to turn the grill off and remove the meat.
On a charcoal grill, the response is the opposite. Closing the lid and vents on the sides of the grill will suffocate the flames and allow you to gain control of the fire.
If the flames are not settling down, you can use a fire extinguisher or baking soda to help put the flames out. Never put water on a grease fire as it will splash the flaming grease around and can cause major burns and spread the fire to nearby objects.
Finish with High Heat
Burning the grease off at the end of each cooking session can help prevent grease build up and provide you with a longer stretch of time between your in-depth cleaning sessions. Just leave the lid open for a few minutes and let the excess grease burn off at a high heat.
Using high heat at the end of each grilling session is not a complete fix but can help mitigate the amount of build-up and lower the risk of flare-ups.
Cleaning Your Grill
The ultimate fix requires a deep cleaning. Many homeowners cook on their grills for years and never realize that they are supposed to be cleaned regularly.
For most grills, the only cleaning they get is the brushing of the grill top before each use.
Most gas barbeque owner guides recommend regular cleaning. Some guides even suggest cleaning it after each use. While deep cleaning your grill every time is not feasible, many people find that a once-a-year deep cleaning helps their grill last longer, prevents flare ups, and ensures better-tasting food.
Cleaning your grill is messy work, and you'll likely want to dedicate a few tools to the task. ToolTally has a good list. We have a nylon brush and a 5-gallon bucket that is reserved just for cleaning the grill.
For starters, dress in old clothing that can get stained as this job will be exceedingly messy. You may even want to wear an apron.
To clean the grill, use a nylon brush instead of a metal one. Many people have historically chosen to use a metal brush, but those metal brush bristles can break off and become a choking hazard. A Nylon brush does a similar job.
Many people choose to go with oven cleaner as the easiest way to clean their grill. Oven cleaning sprays are going to be the most effective at dislodging the soot and grease. However, the oven cleaner can be very caustic. This caustic nature will remove the coating on your grill and discolor it. Accordingly, you will only want to use the oven cleaner on the inside of the grill and avoid any overspray on the outside of the grill.
Another option is to use a bucket of water and dish soap. It takes a large amount of soap, but you can get the grill degreased and remove the excess grease build up. The dish soap method requires more work and is messier but avoids the risk of damaging the grill.
A cleaned grill improves the taste of the food. It also creates a safer grilling experience. Furthermore, the grease holds moisture against the metal of the grill when it is being stored. By regularly cleaning your grill, you remove these contaminants and help your barbecue last longer.
Pull out your calendar and schedule a recurring date to clean your grill each summer. You'll get more compliments on the taste of your grilling. As a bonus, you'll enjoy fewer flare-ups and grease fires.