Charcoal Grilling Safety Tips
Let’s talk about charcoal grilling safety.
Charcoal grills are simple, easy to use and offer great value for money. Not without a reason they are so wildly popular around the world. Apart from that they burn hotter than gas grills. For many the latter is one their favorite things about using charcoal — the heat, but it also comes with its own risks. That’s why it’s important to learn the charcoal grilling basics well.
So, you know what to do and what not when grilling on charcoal.
Charcoal Grilling Safety Tips
Make the most of grilling on charcoal by following these basic precautions.
Here are the dos and don’ts of charcoal grilling safety.
1. Choose a Safe Location for Your Grill
The most important thing is to choose the right place.
The grill must be placed on a flat and stable base to prevent it from tipping over. Also, make sure that the grill is not too close to a fence, trees, buildings or other structures, so you don’t start a fire.
2. Preheat Your Grill Well (And a Little More)
Our number two tip on charcoal grill safety.
Preheating a charcoal grill mostly takes at least 15 minutes.
If it’s a big grill and you are lighting charcoal without lighter fluid, it will take more time. In fact, it’s one of the most popular rookie charcoal grilling mistakes — putting food on the grill too soon, and regretting it afterwards. Don’t rush it! How can you tell when the charcoal grill is ready for cooking? It’s easy. When most of the charcoal has turned white/grey, charcoal is ready for cooking.
It’s especially important if you are using lighter fluid to start a grill. You want the fumes from the lighter fluid to be all gone — so your food doesn’t taste or smell of it.
3. Keep Children Away
Children are curious about everything around them.
They are excited to try new things, and grills and grilling accessories will definitely spark a desire to get involved in the process, at least for some of them. But grills can be very dangerous. Therefore, children must be supervised at all times, to avoid injuries and burns.
Keep pets away from the grill, too.
4. Put the Lighter Fluid Away
Don’t leave it near the grill — it’s dangerous.
Write it on the top of your BBQ safety checklist.
5. Get the Right Tools for Grilling
Because coal bbqs get very, very hot.
Charcoal burns hotter than gas. That’s one of the main reasons people choose charcoal grills, and it’s also one of the main reasons to be extra cautious when getting ready for grilling on charcoal. Use special, long-handled tools made specifically for cooking on the grill. If you don’t have such tools, it’s better to buy them in advance.
Remember about this next time you’ll plan to cook with charcoal.
6. Don’t Use Pans or Pots With Plastic Handles
And be careful when using accessories with plastic coated handles.
The reason behind this is the same — heat. A charcoal grill gets and stays very hot for long time, and it may melt the plastic, especially if you leave it unattended. It’s just too easy to leave the pot or pan in the “wrong angle”. We also wouldn’t suggest to use a moka pot on a charcoal grill. Better make your breakfast coffee in a small pot instead. Let it simmer for a better, stronger taste.
7. Don’t Cook on Open Fire
You don’t need open fire to cook.
Once the charcoal is ready for cooking, it turns either all white or grey, and stops smoking. It can stay like this for hours, burning slowly from the inside, and without a visible flame. If there’s open fire, chances are you are starting it too soon, so better wait a bit longer.
8. Don’t Grill Too Much of Meat at Once
Especially if it’s a fatty meat you’re cooking.
Why? Because too much fat dripping on coals are highly likely to cause flare-ups, and that can result in your meal being turned into toast. Take it slowly instead, and better cook something else at the same time on the sides, or just leave some empty space.
9. Use a Meat Thermometer
It’s both safer and it also makes cooking easier.
That’s the only way to be sure that the meat has been heated to the right temperature to kill all harmful bacteria, and to simply know that the meat is ready. Don’t risk, and just buy yourself a grilling thermometer. Don’t forget to clean the thermometer before and after handling raw meat, poultry and seafood. The same stands true for other tools you’re using with raw meat.
A quality meat thermometer can also be a great gift for BBQ lovers.
10. Keep Your Grill Clean
Flare ups, burned food, food sticking to the grate.
All of that is annoying, and all of that is avoidable when you do take care of your grill. Do a simple and quick clean up of the grill grate after every grilling session, and you’ll see a difference right away. Of course, it isn’t a magical solution, and it won’t protect you against all mishaps, but it does make your odds of having a great cooking experience better.
Empty the grill of all ash once in a while as well. Don’t forget that once in a while every barbecue grill needs a deep cleaning — once or twice a season mostly is enough.
See also: How to Clean a Charcoal Grill?
For more tips see our Charcoal Grilling 101.
Happy grilling! If you have something to add, send us your BBQ safety tips and tricks!