How often do you maintain your grill? In this guide, we’re going to look at how to clean cast iron grill burners to make sure your grilling season will be as successful as the first. Why did I choose this topic?
Well, even with the best gas grill on the market, your food will cook as well as the burners burn. Otherwise, an over-heated/ under-heated cookbox may ruin what would have been a delicious meal for your BBQ.
Sadly, however, most grill owners rarely give much thought to the burners if they can still light. I’m even sure only less than 50% have managed to do the required cleaning this year.
Why You Should Clean your Cast Iron Grill Burners?
First, cast iron isn’t exactly new to grilling. As you should know, the material retains and distributes heat better than most other materials.
However, many manufacturers have lately been using 304 stainless steel on the burners, then cast iron on cooking grates. I think this has a lot to do with the issue of rust and corrosion, which is very common with cast iron material.
But brands like Char-Broil and Broil King have few of their old propane gas grills equipped with cast iron burners. You’ll also find many universal replacement burner sets from third-parties are in this metal.
In any case, you should clean the cast iron burners of your gas grill once in a while as it helps:
- Prevent Flare-Ups While Grilling
Yes, you can expect this issue on even the best no flare up gas grills when the burners are dirty, especially on greasy debris. It’s a big issue that would not only ruin your meal but also start a disastrous fire.
- Prevent Uneven Heating (Or Hot Spots)
When the holes/ ports of your cast iron grill burners get clogged up, there will be a flame on only select parts. And this will leave the firebox unevenly heated, which could have a huge impact on your cooking.
- Get Rid Of Unhealthy Smoke In The Firebox
When the burners of your grill have a large build-up of fat drippings, you may have a lot of burned smoke in the cookbox. And this will not only interrupt your cooking, but also may end up ruining your dish with a burnt flavor.
- Get Rid Of Trapped Spiders & Insects
Don’t ask how, but insects always find a way to build their nest inside the burner. If ignored, this may affect the flow of the gas, which will lead to issues like uneven heating and a leaking smell.
Also, the insects could force the gas in the front of the burner. And that will lead to the control knobs getting too hot or in extreme cases, cause a fire outburst.
- Protect Against Corrosion/ Decay
As was mentioned, cast iron is more prone to rust and corrosion than quality stainless steel material. But regular cleaning of the burners discourages this build-up and extends the durability in the long run.
- Avoid Unnecessary Bills
Again, you won’t have rust and decay to worry about if you regularly clean the cast iron burners of your grill. And this means you won’t have to pay for repairs or replacements anytime soon.
- Ensure Optimal Grilling Performance
Last but not least, clean and functional burners will make sure you can prepare fully cooked ham, ribs, and other meals on your gas grill efficiently. It’s also mind-settling since you’ve minimized one of the causes of grill fires and unhealthy smokes that may drive off your guests.
How Often Should I Clean Cast Iron Grill Burners
The perfect answer to this question depends on two things: how often you use your grill and the design of the burners.
Design of the Burners:
Many of the old gas grills have a plain burner/s, without the flame tamers like on the Weber gas grills. And if this is the case, I’d recommend cleaning at least two times a year to prevent the ports from blocking.
If the burners have flame tamers or an extended roof like that on Bull or Blaze Grill, the drippings will never come close to the ports. Thus, you can do at least one thorough cleaning in a year.
How Often You Grill:
If you grill a couple of times every month, the burners will have noticeable stuck-on dirt on the surface. You should clean the component monthly as well as the burnt grease will only heighten rusting and corrosion.
If you grill like once a month, a single thorough yearly cleaning of the cast iron burners may be enough. But it still won’t hurt to do it twice or more.
A Step-by-Step Guide on how to clean cast iron grill burners
Even for someone who doesn’t know how to clean cast iron grill burners, you shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes to do everything. It will only take longer (about two hours) when we’re talking about cleaning the whole system.
But for a smooth cleaning of the burners, you’ll need to have the right tools in hand. The said tools include a grill brush, toothpick (or paper pin), putty knife (or scrape tool), and clean rugs (or paper towels). A screwdriver is also needed if the burners are holding to the grill with screws.
Furthermore, cleaning the internal parts of any grill can be a bit messy, especially when you haven’t done it in a long time. Thus, you might want to wear some old clothes or dungarees that you won’t mind staining with grease and soot.
A pair of rubber gloves is also crucial to protect your precious hands and nails, though not a must.
What to Do:
- Prepare your cleaning area by spreading out a drop cloth, tarp, or some newspaper. The idea here’s to protect your patio or deck from stains that may be a hassle to remove later.
- Disconnect the gas tank from your grill and unhook it if you had it mounted on the side
- Place your dirty grill in the center of the drop cloth, tarp, or newspaper you laid. Also, gather all the other tools you’ll be needing
- Remove the cooking grates (and flame tamers, lava rock, or ceramic briquettes if available) to access the cast iron burners
- Disconnect the burners from the grill (using the screwdriver if they had screws)
- Scrub off any debris on burners using the grill brush. You can use the putty knife to scrape out the burned-on food stuck on the surface
- Next, use a clean, dry rag (or paper towel) to gently wipe the cast iron burners
- Now, run a tube cleaner/ bottle brush inside the burner/s to loosen any stuck-on residue and dirt hiding in there.
- After the inside and outside of the burners are clean, inspect the gas jets/ ports to identify those that have clogged up. Then use a paper pin or toothpick to clear the residue build-up
- Once done with all that, shake the burner a little bit to remove any debris that may have fallen in. If possible, you can also vacuum the burner/s to get out even the tiniest dust.
- At this point, you should have clean and clear burners, all ready for reinstalling. But before you reassemble them, clean off any residue on the cooking grates and heat tamers.
You’ll notice none of the steps above have mentioned washing your burners with water. Yes, yes I know it contradicts some of the other guides you might have read online.
But when you clean your grill burners will water, the inside of the tube may fail to dry up properly. And this will end up attracting rust which will lead to the worst clogging while also eating up the metal from the inside.
Moreover, the burners of your gas grill may fail to light up properly or even at all if they are wet. You’ll have to wait for them to dry out or at least on the gas jets before attempting to light up again.
As for the cooking grates and heat tamers, you can clean them in hot water with some dish soap if they were too dirty. But you’ll have to dry them with a soft cloth immediately after rinsing to discourage rust.
Another thing, cleaning your grids in water will wash away the seasoning coat you have applied previously. Thus, you’ll have to re-season them before reassembling them on your grill.
Re-Assemble Everything as it were
After everything else, you should go ahead and re-assemble your clean cast iron burners on the grill. I’m hoping you still have all the components (like screws) that were previously holding them in place.
Wait: before you attach the burners, examine each of them to make sure the metal has no cracks or abnormal holes. If you notice either of the two issues, replace the parts immediately with clean and healthy ones.
Test Your Clean Burners Before Storing
In conclusion, that’s everything you need to know on how to clean cast iron grill burners. The method is still pretty much the same if the burners were made of other types of metal: stainless steel or brass.
Once the burners are clean and assembled on the grill, reconnect the gas line and turn on the supply valve. Then, crank up the control knobs of the cooker to make sure the burners work accordingly before storing.
If the burners fail to light, don’t panic. Chances are that the igniter isn’t properly positioned (should be near the burners) and need readjusting.
You can check the gas regulator as well to make sure it hasn’t stuck or the control valves blocked.