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Outdoor Charcoal Grill - Choosing an Outdoor Charcoal Grill

grills usually vents metal

Whether considering a used grill or investing in a new one, grillers in the market for outdoor charcoal grills have many options available to them. In deciding which outdoor charcoal grill is right for their uses, the would-be grill owner should consider the features which allow charcoal grills to function so that an optimal purchase can be made.

Handles: Most grills sport wood-and-metal handles. While wood rarely gets hot enough to burn its user, metal fittings are a common source of grilling incidents. In choosing a handle, grillers should practice lifting the lid a few times and seeing where their fingers land. If they touch metal, then they know they can adjust their opinion of the grill in light of the possibility of a nasty burn. Heat-resistant handles (typically made of glass and nylon) are the luxury handle option, as these are specifically designed to avoid such accidents.

Vents: Vents are used to control grill heat. Smaller grills make do with only one, top-mounted vent, sometimes supported by a bottom vent for even finer control. Large grills use multiple vents. They are usually constructed from aluminum, as it resists corrosion from rain and smoke. If buying a used grill, avoid vents that do not open or shut easily, as this will severely limit your control over the heat.

Bowls and Lids: The top of a charcoal grill is either a bowl or a lid. Bowls are lightweight and easy to clean, but they carry the disadvantage of needing to be removed and set down on a nearby surface, usually the ground. Meanwhile, rectangular lids sit on hinges on the back of the grill, streamlining the cooking process. They are usually made of steel and then enameled—that is, they have a melted substance poured onto them to provide better insulation. Though the steel is quite durable, enamel shows wear fairly easily, and when the enamel is gone, the steel beneath has a tendency to rust.

Grate: The grate is where the magic happens, and also where the toughest cleaning jobs appear. Thankfully, grates are fairly cheap to replace, in part because so many people fail to clean them after use. High quality grates often feature a hinge so that charcoal can be easily added to the grill even during cooking, while standard grates sit in one piece and must be completely removed to tend to the fire.

Ash Catcher: Though unnecessary in the strictest sense, a cleaning system trims one of the most time-consuming parts of outdoor charcoal grill cooking: the removal of ashes. Standard grills usually have a metal dish beneath the main part of the grill, and these catch the bulk (though never quite all) of the ashes as they filter through. Even so, the ashes must still be dumped as the grill is disassembled. Higher quality and more permanently positioned grills often sport a simple lever which, when flipped, opens the bottom of the grill so that all the ash fall into a bucket which the griller has placed below it.

Extra Features: Wheels, attached countertops, utensil hooks, and other features are also incorporated into outdoor charcoal grill designs. These usually add a great deal of bulk to a model, sacrificing portability for convenience. In deciding whether or not to purchase an outdoor charcoal grill with such amenities, the main thing to keep in mind is where and how the grill is going to be used. While a simple, sphere-shaped grill is ideal for camping, a large wheeled model is a luxury for patios.

Used grills cost between $10 and $50, while standard new grills range from $40-$100. There are also larger and higher quality grills on the market. In balancing functionality against budget, grillers can use this field guide to know which features are important to them and which ones they can do without.

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