Melted plastic in a barbecue
June 14, 2010 3:46 PM   Subscribe

OMGWTFBBQFilter: I left a wire brush inside my propane barbecue when lighting it up, and it got a little bit...molten. How do I clean this up?

The brush head and handle were made of plastic and melted all over the place. I scraped most of it off the lower grill, but there's still some bits down inside the barbecue next to the elements. Also, the upper grill still has the remnants of the brush stuck to it which I can't break/scrape off.

I thought about laying down some aluminium foil and cranking up the heat to burn it off, but when the plastic burns it really burns (open flames) and not just smoulders, which I'm not too comfortable with. Also, I don't know what kind of residue (if any) this might leave behind. What should I do?
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
More fire fixes everything. Get the garden hose, make a fire, drink a glass of wine (or beer) and keep an eye on your flaming grill. It's probably best to stay up wind...
posted by foodgeek at 3:50 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Burning plastic is a pretty toxic affair, and then you have residue left that can get into your food. If there are pieces you can replace, that might be better for your health.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:54 PM on June 14, 2010

I'm always getting shouted down when I say, "Just eat it." (Like, people have never heard of aged beef, and what's a little intestinal distress anyway.) But, NO! I wouldn't touch stuff that has had fumes from plastic wrapped around it, that's a different kind of illness (+ it would taste like crud anyway probably).

I think you need to throw out the lava rocks (if you have any), scrape that goop off the burners a burners - or better yet, replace them too. Some kinds of plastic might burn completely off, but do you want to risk it?
posted by Some1 at 4:08 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lots of stores sell replacement racks for BBQs, some of them universal (in that they can be size adjusted). I saw these at both Wal-Mart and Lowes recently.

Personally, if it was me I'd probably burn off what I could, let it cool, and then scour the rest with some steel wool or whatnot until I felt I had gotten it all off. Then I would do one more cleansing fire and call it good.
posted by Menthol at 4:58 PM on June 14, 2010

I agree that the big-box store will carry most or all of the removable parts inside the grill. I'd recommend replacing the worst parts, like suggested upthread.

If your grill uses a single long V-rack, you may find the only replacement is this weird extendable one with grooves to hold smoking chips. It will work, I just got one for my old Char-Broil and it's fine.

For better cleansing fire action to get any bits that ended up on the grill walls, place a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the cooking grate. It will reflect more heat back down into the grill and hopefully burn stuff off faster. Just don't let the edges of the foil hang over, or you will melt your plastic dials. Not like I did that or anything.
posted by cabingirl at 5:27 PM on June 14, 2010

Gotta admit that's kind of ugly. After just spending $100 for new grills for my BBQ, I would be inclined to try to get that stuff off. Is the brush part removable? If not, I would take the grill off of the BBQ and prop it up upside down on a couple of concrete blocks over a non-flammable surface (patio, driveway?) and hit it with a propane torch until it melts off. Then I would melt off the rest of the residue and scrape it down with your new BBQ brush until you see bright metal all the way around each bar or the grill. Then I would put it back on the BBQ and fire it up to super hot for ten minutes before forgetting that it ever happened.

Remember all those people who were telling you that grilling meat causes cancer? You didn't listen to them either, did you?
posted by Old Geezer at 5:38 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just burn it off. Then never use plastic utensils ever again.
posted by at the crossroads at 6:08 PM on June 14, 2010

I'm not really understanding the problem with burning it off, it will be more completely combusted if it doesn't smolder. If flames make you uncomfortable, you probably should stay away from grills altogether.

Sanding should take that plastic right off, though.
posted by yohko at 10:29 PM on June 14, 2010

What Old Geezer said. Clean of what your can by mechanical means, then heat it up to about 1500 degrees with a torch and, AFTER IT COOLS, clean it up with a little emery cloth and rinse.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:53 PM on June 14, 2010

The complicating factor is that I live in an apartment building with a small balcony, so open flames and propane torches are a slightly risky proposition when the only nearby source of water is from a bottle or bucket. If I had access to a garden hose I'd crank the heat up until it started to glow with no hesitation.

Thanks for the advice so far, though!
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 9:10 AM on June 15, 2010

Can you get a dremel and grind the plastic out?

Frankly, I'd toss it. Burning plastic is bad news and having it near my food is not acceptable.
posted by chairface at 1:49 PM on June 15, 2010

"The complicating factor is that I live in an apartment building with a small balcony" Are you able to take the grill down to the parking area? Are there a couple of guest parking spots that are open? You could put on a little show for your fellow tenants and, maybe, meet some new friends. Bring a bucket of water just in case, but out there in the open those flames won't look that big. Really.
posted by Old Geezer at 2:33 PM on June 15, 2010

Thanks, folks. A combination of a replacement heat-spreading-plate-doohickey and some nice cleansing flames did the trick. I dedicate this steak to you all.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 6:13 PM on July 18, 2010

« Older Problem with Security Certificate errors   |   Photo storage Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.