Grilling Tips – Cleaning the Grill
Watch for wire bristles that may break lose and become adhered to the grilling surface.
Cleaning the grill is a simple task, but I foresee a potential hazard that I’d like to help you avoid. Many of us use a grill cleaner that makes use of a wire brush to help remove particles from the surface of the grill. It’s a great tool, but I notice that over the years the metal bristles of the brush can become dislodged or broken off. They have to go somewhere, and I suspect that sometimes where they wind up is right on the surface of the grill…just where you’ll be placing your food.
My experience shows that metal bristles on grill cleaning devices are made of stainless steel or something that looks like brass. Either metal has a very long life, is corrosion resistant, and by design, they’re a bit like stubby needles. As you can imagine, if you ingest one of these, there’s going to be serious trouble with your innards. At the very least, having something like this get stuck in your throat or puncture your cheek or tongue would be regrettable.
I have wondered about the hazard of such grill cleaning devices for years, and always guarded against a stray bristle in my food, but it was only recently that I’ve noticed one manufacturer providing notice to consumers that this presents a potential hazard.
As with most things, where there’s a problem, there’s a solution or two. Here’s are five grilling tips that are designed to help minimize the possibility of getting a metal bristle in something I’m about to eat.
Look while you’re cleaning – as I clean the grill, I keep my eyes peeled to see how effective my cleaning is, and whether I might be leaving a stray bristle here and there.
Easy does it – I suppose that using a wire brush with considerable energy behind it will increase the likelihood of a bristle coming loose…at least that’s how the wire brush in my shop deteriorates. So, I tend to take it easy when brushing the grill. Many of the bristles in brushes are simply pressed into place, they’re not secured by a fastener or sealant. Also, with excessive force, it’s possible for some of the wires on the brush to break off.
Inspect the brush – I take a look at my grill cleaning brushes on occasion just to see if I’m getting wear, stress or corrosion that might increase the likelihood of a bristle coming out or breaking off.
Follow-up with a paper towel – rarely do I use paper towels, but they come in handy when you want to clean up something and it’s a mess that needs to be thrown away. To be sure, the greasy mess from a barbecue grill is just such a thing that needs to be discarded. I fold up the paper towel and work it across the surface of the grill in several directions, turning the towel to make use of at least two sides. This helps get the grill clean, and it promotes dislodging stray bristles that might remain on the surface of the grill.
One last look – with a clean grilling surface, it ought to be easy to spot anything out of the ordinary, something like a shiny bristle from your grill cleaning tool. There is no need to be paranoid, but plenty of reason to be safe. After one last look to be sure it’s clean and free of broken or dislodged wires from your brush, it’s time to put the food on the grill.
Use the wire brush to apply the paper towel to the grilling surface as the last step in the cleaning process. It will get the grill clean and pick up any wire bristles that may be on the grilling surface.
I would hate to think about the potential for harm to parts of the digestive track should something like a metal wire from a grill cleaning tool get dislodged and become part of what you might be eating. It sounds odd, perhaps even just a remote possibility, but strange things like this do occur. Once when I was a child, I had a small irritation on the top of my head, and when I went to find out what the irritation was about, I came across something that was rather stiff in nature, like a foreign object embedded in my scalp. What could it be?
When I went to take a look at it in the mirror, sure enough, there was something like a splinter in my scalp. I pulled it out and it turned out to be a wire of the kind one might find on a wire brush. How did a wire from a wire brush get embedded into my scalp, right on the top of my head? Who knows, but if it can happen there, then it’s more likely that it’ll wind up in our food as we use wire brushes to clean grilling surface.
One of my grilling tips is it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Clair Schwan sometimes has odd things swirling around inside his head, like grilling tips, and sometimes it’s just odd things sticking out of his scalp, trying to work their way into his head.