Be warned: your BBQ is under attack. Its foes are often invisible, silent and potentially deadly. And worst of all, they will not quit for as long as your BBQ shall live.
But despair not – by taking a few simple precautions you can overcome these foes and protect your beloved BBQ, such that it lives to produce delicious meals for a long time to come.
By far the biggest threat to your meat master is rust.
Rust is caused by the oxidation of the steel components, which can only occur in the presence of moisture. As such, the simplest precaution you can take to protect against it, is to store your BBQ in a dry, enclosed environment*, such as a garage, shed or laundry.
If this is not an option, the best possible investment you can make in your BBQ is a waterproof cover. A raincoat for your BBQ? Sounds simple enough, but not all covers are created equal and the right one for your BBQ will protect it from so much more than just rain.
Your cover will act as a barrier to bird and bat droppings, which are not only totally gross to have anywhere near cooking surfaces, but will eat through the paint on the BBQ’s frame, much like they do to your car. Your cover will also protect it from air-borne iron particles, which will result in rust spots that can spread through even the most resilient stainless steel.
A good cover should fit your BBQ tightly, be secure to prevent the wind from ripping it off and extend to just above the ground to keep uninvited squatters out. There’s nothing worse than getting excited about rolling your barbie out for the summer, pulling the cover off and finding that a swarm of bees or a pack of rats have moved in over the winter.
If your BBQ is stored in an open area, ensure your cover is UV resistant to prevent it from being rapidly broken down by the sun. Also, if you live in a particularly humid environment, it may be worth investing in an absorbent cover that will suck up the moisture in the air that would otherwise be attacking your BBQ.
While a properly fitted cover is a very effective means of inhibiting the rust-causing elements’ attacks on your BBQ, it is by no means infallible. Your BBQ will still be contaminated by air-borne particles and cooking products, particularly salt and acidic sauces, which speed up the rusting process. As such, it is important that you clean your BBQ after use and dry before re-covering to ensure moisture isn’t trapped inside. Cast iron plates and the burners should be thinly coated with vegetable oil to provide a protective coating.
Any rust spots should be removed as soon as they arise using a non-abrasive scrubber that is as soft as possible, so as not to mark or scratch the finish. When dealing with stainless steel BBQs, always scrub in the direction of the ‘grain’ and never use steel wool, which will contaminate the original material.
After cleaning, finish with a specialised, food-safe, stainless steel cleaner and polish – not only will the applied coating protect against further contamination, but it will inhibit unsightly smudging from fingerprints, as well as discoloration caused by the extreme heat that it is subjected to.
So don’t sit idly by while what is surely one of your most beloved possessions falls foul of any number of attackers. Follow the simple tips above and protect your BBQ so that it continues to serve you and your family long into the future.
* Gas bottles should not be stored in an enclosed environment due to the potential for gas pressure build-up.