How to Prevent Flare-Ups on a Gas or Charcoal Grill - Backyard Boss
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How to Prevent Flare-Ups on a Gas or Charcoal Grill

No matter how skilled you are at grilling, flare-ups happen from time to time. Even though the sight of sky-high flames shooting out of your grill can be terrifying, you can get a grip on them.

Learning to extinguish grill flare-ups quickly and preventing them from reoccurring makes grilling more fun and leads to better-tasting meat.

What Causes Flare-Ups?

grill flare-ups
Image Credits: Danny Gallegos on Unsplash

Excessive flames are caused by a variety of reasons but typically occur when meat juice drips down into the gas flame or the charcoal. These juices contain high levels of fat content and continue to burn much like a candle. Other causes of flare-ups include windy conditions or using wooden skewers without soaking them.

Minor Flame Mishaps

Bacon in a grill pan on a hot fire
Image credits: Blake Carpenter via Unsplash

If the flames are concentrated on one side of the clean grill, use long-handled tongs and a fireproof oven mitt to move the food to the other side. Afterward, watch the flame carefully until it burns out.

If there are windy conditions, or you can’t move the food, more extreme measures are required. First, close the grill cover to prevent oxygen from getting to the flames.

If you are cooking with charcoal, close the top and bottom air vents as well. Stand back at a safe distance and look through the holes near the bottom of the rear of the grill. Once the flames die down, open the cover and resume grilling.

If you using a gas grill, turn off the gas after you close the grill lid. Once the flames die out, open the grill lid for five minutes to allow the gas to dissipate. It is then safe to relight the grill.

Stopping Serious Flames

salt in a vessel
Image Credits: andreas160578 from Pixabay

If the fire is seriously out of control, dump salt or baking soda onto the flames to smother them. It’s also a good idea to have a fire extinguisher nearby just in case things really get out of hand.

    FIRST ALERT FE1A10GR195 Standard Home Fire Extinguisher

FIRST ALERT FE1A10GR195 Standard Home Fire Extinguisher
    This multi-purpose fire extinguisher can extinguish wood, gasoline, oil, and electrical grill fires, but will work just as well on paper, trash, or plastics fires. You can have it recharged by a certified professional; it uses mono-ammonium phosphate.

Don’t attempt to put out the flames using water, as it doesn’t mix with grease. When water hits the excess grease it actually splashes it in more directions rather than diluting it. No matter what you have heard from others, water and flare-ups don’t mix.

Preventing Future Flare-Ups

Raw meat and a knife on a desk
Image Credits: Kyle Mackie on Unsplash

Preventing flare-ups is easily accomplished by following proper food preparation. Trim off most of the fat from your meat before you put it on the grill. Lean meats won’t cause flare-ups as much as the fat meat.

If you marinated meat or veggies, place them on a baking sheet and allow them to drain well before placing them onto the grill grates. This prevents the marinade from dripping down and causing a flare-up.

When cooking food on wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 to 30 minutes before you put food on them. Dry wooden skewers are really nothing more than kindling, so don’t be surprised when they go up in flames.

The Last Word

Flare-ups are a common problem that occurs during grilling. They can burn your meat, making it either not tasty or not eatable at all. That’s why it is crucial while having a barbecue to know how to stop them and prevent them from happening in the future. With these few simple tips that we have shared, we are sure you won’t have to face them ever again!