How To Clean Cast Iron Grill Grates – Remove Rust Easily
Cast iron grill grates have many incredible advantages over other types of cookware. Not only are they extremely durable but they also allow even cooking and heat distribution. More so, they are affordable and don’t contain any of the chemicals most nonstick cookware releases once heated to high temperatures.
However, cast iron grill grates may become unusable and rusty if not properly cleaned. So, how do you go about cleaning the grill grates?
Below are step-by-step instructions and tips on how to clean cast iron grill grates to ensure they stay in top condition.
Using the Cast Iron Grates for the First Time
The first step when you buy cast iron is to clean and season it before using it for the first time. Seasoning the grates helps protect them from rust and also creates a non-stick surface. That said, follow these steps if you want to season your grill grates for the first time:
1. Clean the grates first
In warm water, rinse your grilling grates to remove any dust. However, don’t use soap. When you’re done cleaning, dry the cast iron off well using a towel.
2. Applying oil
Next, using a natural bristle paintbrush or a paper towel, apply a thin layer of cooking oil on the grilling grates. Most barbecue enthusiasts recommend using peanut oil because of its low viscosity and high smoke point.
Generally, you should apply several coats of oil during the first seasoning. But in the future, a single layer of oil coating should be enough.
3. Heat the grill grates
Last but not least, simply put the grates back inside the grill and then light it up. You should allow the grill to heat up to temperatures of 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, leave it at this temperature for at least 40 minutes before allowing it to cool down completely.
It’s important that you don’t skip this step and go straight to the cooking. This is because seasoning your grill grates before using them for the first time is imperative to their longevity.
Cleaning Cast Iron Grates
The best way to ensure your cast iron grilling grates stay in good condition is to clean them after every use. Because if you don’t, you will run the risk of ruining the grill grates. So, here is how to clean cast iron grill grates.
Step 1: Turn the heat of the grill
Immediately you are done cooking and have removed your food, simply turn the heat of the cast iron up to high. Also, make sure to close the lid so the grill can heat up fast. However, if using a charcoal grill, just open all the vents.
This process ensures that all the food and barbecue sauce that could be stuck on the grates will be burned off.
Step 2: Turn off the grill
If using charcoal, close the vents of the grill to extinguish it. But if using gas, just turn off the grill to allow it to cool down a little. However, it should still be fairly warm but comfortable enough for you to stick your hand inside.
Step 3: Scrape all food particles
Using a grill brush, scrape any remaining food particles off the grate. You may need to repeat this step a couple of times until you’re able to get rid of all the food residue off the grate.
Step 4: Apply a thin layer of vegetable oil
Once you have scraped off the food debris and the grates are clean, the next step is to season the grill. But first, make sure the grilling grates are completely dry.
Using a clean cloth or a paper towel, apply a thin coating of vegetable oil on the grates. Just be careful not to coat the grates heavily.
Removing Rust from your Cast Iron Grates
Cast iron is very prone to rust. This may happen if you don’t use the grates for a prolonged period of time and moisture finds its way inside the grill.
If this happens, you should not worry. There are many ways to get rid of the rust and finally restore the grates to their former glory. These include:
1. Vinegar soak
This is considered as one of the safest and most effective methods of getting rid of rust from a cast iron grill. It involves using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.
Basically, you should mix two parts of distilled white vinegar with one part baking soda. If you have a large sink, lay the grates flat and let them soak overnight. But if your sink is small, pour the vinegar mixture in a garbage bag and put the grates inside it. Then seal the bag tightly.
After soaking the grilling grates overnight, remove them and then rinse thoroughly. Also, be sure to dry the grates with a towel and then apply a thin coat of cooking oil.
2. Steel wool & soapy water
If your cast iron grill has a moderate amount of rust, this is the best method to use. Using steel wool and soapy water, scrub the grates thoroughly until you’ve removed all of the rust.
However, the soapy water will strip your grilling grates their seasoning so you will have to re-season them again.
Once you have finished getting rid of the rust, rinse the grates and dry them thoroughly. You can dry them in a hot oven to ensure there is no moisture left behind.
3. Oven cleaning
Do your grill grates have too much rust and none of the above methods seem to work? You may need to run your appliance through your oven’s self-clean cycle. After the cycle is completed, let the grates cool down and quickly wash them with hot soapy water. This is designed to remove any carbon residue.
Additionally, you can use an oven cleaner. All you got to do is spray the grates with the cleaner and then put them in garbage bags. Make sure to do this in a properly-ventilated area. Also, seal the bags tightly and leave them in a warm area for at least two days.
Finally, wash the grates in soapy water and rinse them thoroughly before seasoning them.
Cleaning your cast iron grill grates is not a chore but rather a necessity if you want them to last long. So, follow the above steps to keep your grilling grate at its peak performance.