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When you BBQ, every now and then, there is a grease fire in your grill. They happen at different times and different intensities.
Gas grill flare-ups are annoying and can sometimes be dangerous. I have a Weber grill gas and I enjoy it very much. Sometimes I do experience some of those pesky grease fires or flare-ups.
I gathered a list of ways to avoid those flare-ups, ways that I know from personal experience can reduce or even eliminate those flare-ups.
Here is a list of tips on how to prevent flare-ups on a gas grill.
The article contains extra useful information for the causes of grill fires.
Want to jump right in?
First things first
Flare-ups or grease fires?
They are similar but not quite.
grill flare-ups are smaller and last for a few seconds or so. They tend to disappear once you remove the food from the grates.
Grease fires are much more intense. They burn hard and for longer. Until their "fuel" runs out. Even if you remove the food from the grill, they continue.
I once had a grease fire in my Weber grill that charred all the lid, the surrounding on the grill and the food. I could barely remove the food from the grill due to the heat intensity and smoke.
I couldn't put the fire out, I only had water next to me. That would have made things worse. I had to let it burn and spend a few hours later cleaning the gas grill.
This is the main reason I wrote this article.
Though this article focuses mainly on gas grill flare-ups, most of the tips below can do some magic when it comes to grease fires.
What are flare-ups?
This is pretty much straightforward. When a flare-up occurs, uncontrolled flames are coming out of the grill. Typically with black smoke or smog like material that catches everything around it, ruining the meat by giving it a layer of black smog all over it. Not a pleasant sight nor taste.
Grease fires usually occur when meat or fatty food is cooked. I rarely got grease fire when cooking vegetables. Even if I add a little oil to the vegetables.
A relatively continuous flow of fat and oils is needed for a serious grill grease fire to catch.
A smaller amount of fats and oil do sometimes create flare-ups. Those are not a big issue for me, they are usually small fires, go out quickly and don't damage the food.
Grease fires can be very dangerous. I keep a fire extinguisher next to the grill. Flames are not predictable and the mixture of cooking gas makes it even more dangerous. Fire extinguishers are a practical solution since oil fires do not play well with water. Small fire extinguishers come at a few sizes and prices. The bigger fire extinguishers can put out bigger fires but cost more.
In short, the combination of oils, fats, and heat.
Here is the deal:
Types of food on the grill
From my experience, grill grease fires happen often when I cook meat. Especially fatty meat. Lean meats and vegetables rarely start a gas grill grease fire.
The combination of oils, fats, and heat.
The oil that is either used to spice up your food, from a marinade for example or from lubricating the gas grill's grates, drip down, accumulate in the catch-pan or on the burners covers. When the grill gets hotter and hotter, those oils and fats get excited to the point they catch fire.
Keep the lid open
Most of the grease fires I experiences happened when the grill lid was closed.
When the lid is closed, the heat builds up inside the gas grill. This is good for cooking.
The problem is that the fats accumulated in the catch-pan may get overheated to the point of self-combustion. Very similar to overheated oil in a pan that catches fire.
When the lid is open, the food cooks slower but the oils and fats keep relatively cool so they don't catch fire.
I am not saying that it may never happen when the lid is open though.
Keep the catch-pan clean
In my grill, there is a catch-pan and a drip container. Those are shown in the following image.
The larger part, that spans the whole width of the cooking area of the gas grill is the catch-pan.
The catch-pan collects all the oils and fats from the food. Then, it concentrated the flow towards the drip pan.
The drip pan is the smaller container that accumulates the oils and fats that drip from the catch-pan.
They can both catch fire. It is not only the catch-pan, though usually, that is also the case.
What I do: I wrap both pans with aluminum foil every time I use the grill. When I am finished, I replace the aluminum foil, leaving the pans clean from oils and fats. I never let old fat and oil residue be left on the pans. It is also nice since it keeps the pans clean.
Usually, the drip pan is a disposable aluminum piece. So you can buy some spare drip pans and replace every use or couple of uses, depends on your grill use. They usually are very cheap. Make sure the size of the pan fits your grill.
Denser grill grates (Plancha like grate)
Some grill grates brands, offer kind of grates in which there are fewer spaces between the wires.
Few benefits - distributes heat better, slows the flow of fats out of the meat and food and reduces flare-ups.
It is similar to Plancha (Flattop grill). The grate has some holes in it though.
Using this method, you keep the great grill flavor, the smokiness experience but you reduce flare-ups. Here is an example of the grates I am talking about.
Tip: Make sure the grate size fits your grill.
Manage the cooking temperature
Most meats and food doesn't require great heat to be cooked properly.
Some people say that medium heat is best for meats. It saves all the flavor and moisture inside the meat.
We know that flare-ups and grease fire occur when the temperature in the grill cross a point that the oils and fats catch fire.
By reducing the heat and controlling the temperature with a thermometer, you can reduce grease fires and flare-ups significantly.
Prepare your food
If possible, trim any access fat from the meat. If you marinate your food, try making the marinade less fatty or oily.
If the food is fatty, try shaking the access sauce or marinade from the food before putting it on the grill.
This solution partially isolates the fire source from the dripping fats and oils, which are the main reason for grill flare-ups.
The briquettes are usually reusable and self-cleaned. You just need to mix them once in a while to expose the clean side.
Make sure the briquettes sit on a wire grate between the fire source and the top grill grate.
Another benefit of using such a product is a more even distribution of heat, instead of just having hot spots above the burners.
Here is an example of briquettes. on Amazon, they are around 30$ for a pack.
Use a grill mat
Grill mats allow you to cook with less oil. Less oil means less chance of gas grill flare-ups.
Grill mats combined with a clean drip pan and catch-pan can truly eliminate grease fires and flare-ups in your gas grill.
Grill mats can sustain a certain temperature and have a range of warranty possibilities. Here is a 600 degrees mat on Amazon.
Clean the grill grates
By cleaning the grill grates, you make sure no access food, oils, and fats are stuck to the grates, promoting flare-ups and unwanted fires in your grill. Keeping your grills grates clean also prevents that leftovers from sticking to your food. Generally, I can say that clean grates are a win-win. There are many kinds of brushes for grills on Amazon. Make sure you have a good one the cleans well and removes all oil and fats residue.
Cook with the gas grill door open
Though it may not be the most comfortable solution, for me it is a quick fix for grill flare-ups and grease fires.
Since heat is a crucial part of a grease fire, leaving the grill door open lets the oil and fats keep a lower temperature and airflow thus preventing them from catching fire.
I am not saying this is a recommended way of cooking with a gas grill but it is worked for me, and as I said, it is a quick fix for when I can't perform the above tips.
Gas grill flare-ups can really ruin the grilling experience and your food when grilling.
gas grill flare-up prevention is not a complicated task. Though it requires some trial and error process.
Prevent grill flare-ups by following the simple tips I suggested above, It will surely dramatically reduce grease fires and flare-up.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or thoughts.