Is Rust on a BBQ Grill Safe?

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The rust on the grill of a barbecue or smoker poses only the slightest of risks, if any. You are unlikely to sustain a deep puncture wound with its attendant risk of tetanus, as you could from a projecting item, such as a rusty nail. And iron oxide from the rust that transfers to grilled food is harmless in small quantities.


Rust on the structural parts of any grill, charcoal or propane, or the burner ports of a propane grill can be more cause for concern. Learn to judge whether that inevitable rust that seems to appear overnight, even on carefully stored grills, could be a problem.

The Grates

Clean rusted metal grates with a nylon brush, metal coil cleaner or grill stone -- and avoid the often-recommended and ubiquitous wire grate-cleaning brushes. Small pieces of brush can get into grilled burgers and other items and cause a trip to the emergency room. If you have to use a wire brush, wipe off the grate with a wet paper towel before cooking on it.



Also avoid using rust removers, which can be toxic if ingested. Seek medical attention immediately if you consume rust remover.

Burner Ports

You can chip off minor rust that clogs the ports of a propane burner with the point of a utility knife or a toothpick. Carefully address each hole. If you find severe rust, replace the burner.

Check also the supply throat, also called the venturi, which connects the controls to the burners. Replace this part if it shows evidence of corrosion, to avoid the risk of fire.

The Firebox and Struts

Work off minor rust with a stainless steel brush. Replace the grill if you find extensive corrosion, to avoid fire risk from the collapse of its legs or braces.


Rogue Parrish

An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.