Is it Safe to Grill on a Rusty Grill? Here are 10 Ways to Clean It

If you ever cook on your own backyard grill or one in a park or by the lake, you have probably seen rust forming on the grate.

rusty grill

Definitely unsightly, it is more prudent to ask if this rust could dangerously contaminate food should we cook on it. Is grilling on a rusty surface safe?

Cooking on a rusty grill depends on how bad the rust is. A few spots of rust that are not too deep, will make grilling fine. However, if there’s a lot of rust or if it’s deeply pitted, you should clean it off before using it for food.

Rust is iron oxide, and generally harmless when consumed unless ingested in large quantities.

In short, you can safely grill on a rusty surface safely so long as it has not lost structural integrity. The resulting food will be safe to eat but eaten sparingly.

You definitely want to clean your grill if it gets rusty, at any rate. Here are ten ways to do just that:

10 Surefire Ways to Clean Your Rusty Grill

Baking Soda & Lemon Juice VS Vinegar - Non-Toxic Cast Iron Rust Removal

1. Baking Soda and Lemon Juice

Baking soda will help to loosen any built-up grease or dirt on the grill while lemon juice acts as a natural rust-loosener.

Combine one part baking soda with two parts lemon juice in a spray bottle, then spray all over the rusty parts of the grill grate.

Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes before scrubbing it off with a wire brush. Rinse the grill thoroughly with water and dry it completely before using.

Cleaning dirty Rusty grill Grate with Vinegar and salt. #CharGriller #grilling

2. Vinegar and Salt

This method is great for removing rust that has formed on metal surfaces.

Combine one cup of vinegar with two tablespoons of salt in a bowl, then mop the resulting compound on the rusty surface liberally.

Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing it off with a wire brush.

Rinse the grill thoroughly with water and dry it completely before using.

Season or lubricate the grill rack as needed.

Coke vs Rust: Does it work?

3. Coca Cola

Colas are acidic enough to dissolve rust. Pour an entire can over the rusty surface, and then let it sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing it off with a wire brush.

A better option is to remove the grate if possible and then give it a full immersion bath in cola.

A pet food tray or mud tray works perfectly and requires little liquid to fill. Rinse the grill thoroughly with water and dry it completely before using.

How to clean your BBQ grill and metal parts of rust dont for get to subscribe

4. White Vinegar and Baking Soda

This is another great method for removing rust from metal surfaces.

Combine one cup of white vinegar with two tablespoons of baking soda in a spray bottle, then spritz the rusty surface liberally.

Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing it off with a wire brush.

Take care if using this method on a hot grill as vaporized vinegar can easily irritate mucous membranes and your lungs.

Rinse the grill thoroughly with water and dry it completely before using.

5. Toothpaste

Toothpaste is mildly abrasive and contains baking soda, which makes it perfect for cleaning rust from metal surfaces.

Squeeze a dollop of toothpaste onto the rusty surface, then let it sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing it off with a wire brush.

Rinse the grill thoroughly with water and dry it completely before using. The best thing about the toothpaste method is that it is one of the few “mouth safe” abrasive compounds.

6. Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is a great way to remove rust from metal surfaces.

Apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly to the rusty surface, then let it sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing it off with a wire brush.

As always, rinse with soap and water when you are done.

7. Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is also a great way to remove fine rust from metal surfaces. Wrap some aluminum foil around your fingers or roll it up into a tight pad, then rub it briskly into the rusty surface.

This is one of the best methods for dealing with minor rust and is safe for the underlying metal.

Plus, you are likely to already have some foil on hand if you grill regularly! Take care that no small pieces or flakes of foil remain behind on the grate or surface.

How to Clean Rusted Cast Iron Grill Grates

8. Scraper, Water, and Brush

If the rust is only on the surface, you can remove it with a scraper, water, and brush.

Scrape off as much of the rust as possible, focusing on the big deposits, then wet the grill to lubricate the brush and scrub it clean.

Rinse thoroughly with clean water and dry completely before using. It can be helpful to heat the grill slightly before wetting it down.

Make sure your brush and cloth can withstand the temperature before doing this!

9. Sandpaper

If there is a lot of rust or if it is deeply pitted, sanding it down may be the best option. Use fine-grit sandpaper to gently buff away the rust until you have a clean surface.

Be careful not to damage the underlying metal more than is strictly necessary.

When finishing, make sure you thoroughly wash the grate so you remove all particulates that could be leftover. You will definitely need to season your grill after this one!

Rust Remover that Actually Works

10. Naval Jelly

If all else fails, naval jelly can be used to remove rust from metal surfaces. It’s an aggressive chemical that should only be used as a last resort as it might do as much harm to the metal as the rust!

Apply it liberally to the rusty surface, then let it sit for anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple of hours before wiping it off and then hitting the affected area with a wire brush.

Rinse the grill thoroughly with water and dry it completely before using. After cleaning your grill, make sure to season it properly so that future rust doesn’t form.

Knowing When to Give Up on Your Grill

If your grill is so rusty that you can’t even tell what color it used to be, it might be time to give up on it and buy a new one. Here are some other signs that your grill has seen better days:

  • The grates are so rusty that you can’t see the original color.
  • The paint is peeling or flaking off.
  • There are holes in the grill cover or grates themselves.
  • The metal is starting to bend or warp.
  • It’s difficult to move the grill around.
  • Parts of the grill have started to come apart.

If your grill meets any of these criteria, it’s time to say goodbye and invest in a new one or at least a new grate.

Luckily, there are plenty of great options available on the market today, so you’re sure to find one that fits your needs and budget.

Don’t risk a painful and potentially expensive accident!

Conclusion

Grilling on a rusty grill is usually safe and food cooked on it is safe to eat, but it could potentially be dangerous, so it’s important to take steps to clean it up before using it.

There are a number of different methods that you can use, depending on the level of rust and how much time you have.

From the mild to the highly aggressive, you are sure to find a method that will work for you on this list.

is it safe to grill on a rusty grill pinterest

2 thoughts on “Is it Safe to Grill on a Rusty Grill? Here are 10 Ways to Clean It”

  1. Wrong question being asked. Rather ask, ‘Should you ever eat any food grilled over charcoal?’
    But thanks for the rusty info. Blessings to all you do.

  2. Good information on cleaning the grill grate.
    I’m about to clean mine after not being used all winter.
    I’ll give some of the suggestions a try.
    Thanks

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