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I've seen the light!
February 05, 2014

I've Seen The Light. It's Time to Clean My Charcoal Grill

Well, to be truthful, I left for work on Monday morning and it was light, and when I left work that night there was still some light left in the sky. So I’m already thinking of summer and barbecues and we’re only just into February.

Maybe I’m tempting fate, bearing in mind that winter doesn’t officially end until the end of the month and spring begins in March, but in all honesty winter here has not been all that bad. There has been some pretty bad weather in other parts of the United Kingdom but it looks like we’ve escaped the worst of it. We had the best weather for years last year and I spent a lot of time in the back yard, or back garden as we say on the UK. I’m hopeful that it’ll be just as good this year.

I’ve an added interest as well, gardening. I grew lots of my own food last year including patty-pan squash which I’d never even heard of previously. I’m determined to find a way of cooking it on the grill this year. If you’ve a recipe for grilled patty-pan squash, feel free to share it.

My charcoal grill and smoker are well wrapped up under tarpaulin so hopefully they’ll not be in any worse condition than when I covered them up around about October last year. I used to put them in the garden shed but if you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while then you’ll know it’s not in the best of condition, well to be truthful it needs to be taken down. I set fire to it while grilling a few years ago which never helped.

Anyway I’ve decided to give my charcoal grill and smoker a good cleaning ready for the coming barbecue season and I’m aiming to do so in the next month or so. I’m sure that I cleaned them before I put them away but barbecuing usually involves a few bottles of cider as far as I’m concerned so maybe I wasn’t seeing straight. In any case, this is the method that I’ll go about cleaning them.

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Cleaning a Charcoal Grill/Smoker

Get your cleaning kit ready. I find a hard bristle brush, a bucket full of mild soapy water and some clean cloths (that you’re willing to throw away), is all that you need. Prepare the area. Put down some newspaper, old sheets, etc, large enough to clean your equipment on. To me it’s far easier to use something that you don’t mind rolling-up and throwing away.

Take the grill/smoker apart as much as you can. Take off the lid if it’s removable, take out the grill racks, take out the grate, and remove the ash catcher if it has one. No need to take it totally apart by the nuts and bolts. That is unless you want to, and if that’s the case, off you go. Use the hard bristled brush and soapy water to clean the insides of the top, bottom and inside of the grill/smoker. Use the same to clean the grill grate and inside the ash catcher. Use the hard bristle brush and soapy water to clean the grill racks.

Get a fresh bucket full of soap water and clean the outside of all pieces of the grill/smoker with the cloths. That more or less covers the cleaning. I would then re-assemble the grill/barbecue and put some charcoal in and set it on fire. Put on the lid and let the heat from the charcoal dry out the grill/smoker which will help prevent rusting..

If you’ve opened your grill/smoker and found out that you never cleaned it the last time you used it, here’s a couple of cleaning tips.

Option 1: Put some charcoal in your grill smoker and let it burn, as though you are going to cook some food. When the charcoal is white and at its hottest it will burn any leftover food off the grill racks. Use a long handled grill cleaning brush to help remove the food. Use long handled BBQ mitts to turn the grill rack over and repeat on the other side. Then clean as above once everything has cooled down.

Option 2. This is a bit unconventional and I wouldn’t do this with cast iron grill racks. The night before you clean your grill take out the grill racks and put them flat on some grass. The next morning when there is still dew on the grass pick up you racks and any food will just wipe off with some paper towels. I’ve no idea why, but it seems to work.

Once you’ve completely cleaned your grill/smoker you’ll need to season it. This can be done in conjunction with the drying step that I mentioned above.

That's it for this issue of the Chargrill Chat, I hope that you enjoyed it.

If you have any requests, or a recipe, or tip to share that you think other readers might like, or even if you disagree with anything in this newsletter, please email me at

Best regards,


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