I don't want to get tetanus!
May 30, 2006 8:07 AM   Subscribe

GrillFilter: Is my grill becoming rusty after 3 weeks of use, or am I overreacting?

About 3 weeks ago, my girlfriend went out for her birthday and we bought ourselves a Weber Q 300, and we're really loving it. We've used it pretty much every non-rainy night since we got it.

Since I'm completely anal, especially when it comes to expensive purchases, I've been doing my best to take the best care of it I can, keeping it as clean as possible and, because the grills are cast iron, oiling them after use (as recommmended by the store we got it from).

Even though I feel I'm doing everything I can, though, I'm already seeing a few orange spots forming on the grill which look, to me, like rust. We've called the place we purchased it (a local BBQ specialty store, not like Target or anything) and they suggested burning it off on high for 30 minutes and it should scrape right off, which didn't seem to do anything.

My girlfriend says I'm overreacting, which wouldn't be the first time, but last night when I went to use the grill, I noticed a few new spots. Does anyone have any suggestions? Does anyone else have this grill, and has experienced something similar?

(I wanted to supply pictures with this question , but I couldn't find the camera last night. If anyone wants to see what I'm talking about, I'll see if I can track the camera down and post some when I get home tonight.
posted by emptybowl to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
grills are cheap. i ususally go through one per season.
posted by lester at 8:20 AM on May 30, 2006

Untreated cast iron rusts quite readily so three weeks is more than enough time. If the rust isn't coming off, odds are it won't come off on your meat, but eating rust won't give you tetanus in any event.

I find a brass wire brush is good for scraping off rust and burnt-on goo. They also sell porcelain-coated grills which shouldn't rust, though I don't know if they would fit your barbecue.
posted by cardboard at 8:27 AM on May 30, 2006

The high-end Weber grills use porcelain or stainless steel for the cooking grills, presumably to avoid this very problem. (And even then, my Dad's porcelain "flavorizer bars" rust out after a couple of seasons.)
posted by smackfu at 8:30 AM on May 30, 2006

The grills are cast-iron with porcelain enamel, and we were specifically recommended against using a wire brush on them. I use one of those scrubbing pads. If I let the grill burn a little after use, pretty much all of it comes off with the pad.
posted by emptybowl at 8:36 AM on May 30, 2006

I swear by the stainless steel rod grills. Just burn off the residue and brush them down with a brass brush. No rust - last forever. Cast iron has cache, but I find they make not a whit of difference to the food, are high maintenance, and musr be replaced too often.
posted by Neiltupper at 8:36 AM on May 30, 2006

Unless the stuff is stainless there is no way you are going to prevent it from rusting. Hot steel forms rust instantaneously upon contact with air when it is being manufactured. The heat just provides too much energy for the reaction to be prevented. All you can do is let it form a nice patina.
posted by 517 at 8:44 AM on May 30, 2006

posted by 517 at 8:46 AM on May 30, 2006

Well, if it's enameled, then I agree you shouldn't use a wire brush and they shouldn't be rusting. I see three choices here:
1. Your grills are defective and weren't properly coated in the factory, so they're rusting. Obviously warranty replacement is the way to go here.
2. Your grills have become damaged since purchase. Judging by your description of yourself it sounds like you haven't been sawing away at your grills with steel tools, but maybe there's something to look at here.
3. It's not rust. Lots of meat juices look orangish after they've been baked on, but without a picture I wouldn't want to speculate.

I'd say take the grills into the dealer if you think it's rust.
posted by cardboard at 8:48 AM on May 30, 2006

By the way, rust has absolutely nothing to do with tetanus. Tetanus is caused by bacteria. When you step on a rusty nail on the ground you have a high chance of getting infected because the clostridium tetani bacterium is found in organic material like soil and feces, and because it thrives on locations with little or no oxygen such as a deep puncture wound. The fact that the nail was rusty is completely incidental. You could eat burgers off a rusty grill all day long without any risk because the heat would likely kill the bacteria, and if it didn't your digestive system has natural defenses against such things.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:01 AM on May 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

I have a Weber Genesis with porcelain/cast iron grates, and haven't had a problem with rust; I do use a wire brush on them without any signs of problems. That said, if you continue to use your grill as much as you do now, you can count on replacing your grates and flavorizer bars every couple of years or so. It's still a lot cheaper than a new grill. I would be inclined to not worry about it and enjoy the grill. If you want to get some reassurance, you might call Weber; I have had great experiences with their customer support.
posted by TedW at 9:11 AM on May 30, 2006

Also, Rhomboid and the others are right about tetanus; it is a non-issue here. There was an Askme a while back about a splinter that had some in-depth discussion of this, but I can't find it right now.
posted by TedW at 9:23 AM on May 30, 2006

Found it!
posted by TedW at 9:27 AM on May 30, 2006

is the grill supposed to be 100% covered in ceramic, or just the top surface? if the former, then you should be able to determine whether the ceramic has chipped off, or wasn't fully applied, in which case it would be a warranty claim.

If not all the grille is covered in ceramic, then the only thing to do is to ensure that the whole thing has been properly oiled and seasoned, like a cast iron pan. You can do the initial season by coating the grilles all over with peanut oil (*Allergy Alert *) and putting in a 200 degree F oven for an hour or two. Maybe this is explained in the manual.

For the record, i got 10+ years out of a cast-iron grille. Just kept it greasy, only wiped it after preheating the BBQ and just before the meat hits it. (I know... ewwww.)

You may find that it's OK to use a brass BBQ brush on ceramic, but please investigate first.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:56 AM on May 30, 2006

I have the Q200, and I believe the grill is cast iron. Mine has sat through a winter in the Santa Cruz mountains (rain, rain, rain..) and shows no signs of rust. I use a wire brush on it every time I use it (3-4 times a week through the summer).
posted by doctor_negative at 10:40 AM on May 30, 2006

I'd go with Artful Codger on this one. I myself have a Webber Genesis and regularly season the surface, primarily to keep the surface stick-free, though I use just a light coating of plain-old corn oil and the grill's burners to do the trick.

Letting crap accumulate on the grill and for the charcoal set, leaving ashes in the unit are two sure-fire ways to eat through your grill. Some folks believe that a merry coating of crap on the grill surface provides a mystical better BBQing experience, but they are fools and not to be suffered.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:20 AM on May 30, 2006

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