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What Is The Best Metal For A Grill?

Over the years, virtually every metal has been used to create a grill that is both attractive and performs well. In terms of durability, portability, and versatility, stainless steel remains the most popular choice. It is durable, long-lasting, and rust-resistant.

Purchasing a new grill is a huge undertaking. Rushing this decision or even purchasing without doing research can be extremely costly in the future. It’s not a commonly known fact that you need to pay close attention to the type of metal your grill is made with due to the longevity and cooking properties it holds

Generally, the best metal you can use to make a grill grate is going to be cast iron. This type of metal withstands the highest heat, the widest range of elements, and the most damage before ever breaking down. However, there are a few things about maintaining cast iron that turn people away. 

While everyone has their own opinions of what is right or wrong, one thing you can’t refute is the upkeep and longevity of basic metals exposed to the same elements. When looking through different options for grill grates, you will see lots of claims and promises, but these don’t hold up to the actuality of how certain metals are made and why they last the longest. 

Choosing The Right Metal For Your Grill

When choosing the metal for your grill grate, you want a metal that has a high heat and element tolerance while also keeping maintenance requirements minimal. You want your grill to last as long as possible, but you definitely don’t want to spend so much time getting it ready or cleaning it up, or it won’t be very enjoyable to grill at all. 

Fire in a grill rack.
You want your grill to last as long as possible.

Cast Iron

Cast iron grill grates are by far the best and most long-lasting grills that you will find. They have such a high heat resistance that you will likely never see the warp or breakdown from the heat. Cast iron holds heat incredibly well, which allows your food to cook faster and makes fantastic grill marks. 

However, you need to do a bit of maintenance and upkeep consistently to reduce the risk of rust and breaking down. Even though you are grilling food and the grease will coat some of the iron, it will also evaporate, and every inch of the iron will not be touched with food. 

A steak on a cast iron pan.
They have such a high heat resistance that you will likely never see the warp.

Therefore, you need to ensure that the metal is consistently inspected and oiled regularly. You want to look for rust or any damage and keep the iron oiled and properly stored. This will allow it to work the longest. 

Steel

The best thing about steel is how affordable it can be for most people. While other metals will most likely be way out of your price range or even more than you’re willing to pay for a grill, steel will always stay within a well-affordable range. 

People also tend to choose steel due to its nonstick nature, which is incredibly helpful when grilling or cooking anything. While it’s always recommended to use nonstick spray or oil, steel usually helps in those moments when you forget. 

A steel grill grate with a charcoal.
Steel is a weaker metal than cast iron and therefore has a lower heat limit.

Now, steel is a weaker metal than cast iron and therefore has a lower heat limit. Steel will most likely have less upkeep, but it will start breaking down quite a bit faster than cast iron. Steel loses its temper quicker than other metals, so it will begin to chip and crack after a while. 

Once you have an uneven surface to cook on, food will start to stick to the grill causing uneven cooking, burnt spots,  burnt food chips being mixed in with your food, and possible metal pieces in your food as well. 

Once your steel begins to look like this, it is best to simply replace your grate or your entire grill, depending on your model. Replacing your grate may be cheaper, but only if it is a standard size and not one that needs a custom size. 

Porcelain-Coated Grates

While steel and iron are great choices for grill grates, it’s common not to want to deal with the upkeep or maintenance. Many people choose porcelain-coated grates for lower maintenance responsibilities.

However, the issue with porcelain-coated is that after a while of being exposed to high temperatures and different elements, the porcelain can begin to chip away, leaving you with porcelain in your food or exposed metal sections. 

A hot grill getting on fire.
Porcelain-coated grates aren’t the best option if you are looking for longevity.

Through several uses of your grill, the porcelain can begin to crack slightly, allowing moisture in between the porcelain and metal which can cause rust to appear over time. The rust can break down the metal and cause them to break over time, even during use. 

Overall, porcelain-coated grates aren’t the best option if you are looking for longevity or a grill that won’t create issues with your food while it’s cooking. 

Tools For Grilling

Once you purchase a grill, no matter what type of metal your grate is made with, certain tools can damage the metal, as well as some tools that will only work for the metal you have.

Ensuring you have the right tools is the best way to make sure your metal keeps in its best condition for the longest. You want to stay away from any tools that can scratch or chip away at the metal or its coating. 

Tools for grilling.
Ensuring you have the right tools is the best way to make sure your metal keeps in its best condition.

Any chipping or scratches can cause an uneven cooking surface that can leave metal residue in your food or cause food to stick to the grill, possibly ruining your meal. Purchase only the tools recommended for your type of grill, and you should have no problems with longevity. 

Final Thoughts

Purchasing a grill is a very important decision that requires quite a bit of research to ensure you get the highest-quality metals and equipment for your money. However, you can’t just look for the individual brand’s claims of longevity; you need to know the characteristics of each metal. 

Cast iron is the best possible option for a grill grate when looking at longevity, maintenance, and cooking properties. Cast iron will last you far longer than any other metal could. 

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