A brush with danger

brushIt is important to keep your grill surface clean. I used to use a wire brush, like most people, but it seemed to me that they soon got very tired and flat looking. For the last year or two, I have instead used a ball of ordinary alumunium foil. It gets the grill grate nice and clean, and you just throw it away afterwards.

Then a few months ago, a friend bought me a present of some BBQ stuff, including a wire brush. So since I had it, I have been using it. But no more.

I have been reading of a number of cases where people have ended up needing surgery because of the things. What I saw as “wearing-out” problem – that the wires are brittle and can easily shed – is far more serious than that; where folk haven’t noticed pieces of wire left on their grill and it has got into the food, and then eaten. The wires are needle-sharp, and can cause lacerations to the throat, and perforations of the intestine and bowel. This is not a theoretical danger – some folk have been hospitalised over it.

No thanks. I am going back to my ball of aluminium foil.

  • Roll a ball of foil – about the size of a small scourer – and use it to clean the grates.
  • It is more effective to clean the grate when it is hot. Either hold the ball firmly in a pair of BBQ tongs (see YouTube video below), or – as I prefer – hold it in your hands, using a good BBQ heat-proof glove.
  • Food and debris is easier to clean if you scrub the grate immediately after cooking.
  • However that isn’t always convenient. If your grate is dirty before you start cooking, light it and let it get hot. Then give it a good scrub with an alumnium foil ball. Then when the grate is clean, take another, clean, ball of foil, and dip it in a small dish of olive oil. Use this to oil the grate – this seasons it, and makes cleanup easier later. (Note if cooking over a direct flame or coals, take care not to over-do the oil – you don’t want it dripping and causing a flare-up!).

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