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topic 51406

Bar-B-Que Heat Plate Materials

A discussion started in 2009 but continuing through 2019

February 25, 2009

Q. Hi, I'm writing to ask you a question that I imagine many people would like to know the answer to. I see from reading some of the letters on your website that people do have concerns about types of materials used in a bar-b-que, with respect to any health concerns when the material is heated by the flames. I purchased a bar-b-que from Lowe's Home Center less than two years ago. The alleged stainless steel burners were totally rusted away in just over a year as was the support plate needed to mount the burners on. The burners (five of them) had a lifetime warranty, so they were sent to me from the manufacturer for a mere $30.00 shipping and handling charge. I had to pay almost another $30.00 for the support piece which took over three months to get to me. The heat plates that go over the burners are made of porcelain covered steel. They too look like they were on the Titanic. I am willing to "manufacture" my own heat plates, as you need not be a rocket scientist to cut out 10" x 16" pieces of metal and cut some elongated holes to match the original heat plates. Problem is I thought that stainless steel would be the way to go for health concerns. The sheets of stainless will cost quite a bit so I wanted to know can aluminum be used, or just regular steel? Once the plates are considerably rusted is it a health concern to cook food over rusted plates?

Rudy Veiga
- Delray Beach, Florida, USA

February 26, 2009

A. Hi, Rudy. There are hundreds if not thousands of different stainless steels, and some are far more expensive and corrosion resistant than others, but none are dangerous. Rust is not generally dangerous either, and certainly not in the context of being on a B-B-Q flame shield. Aluminum may not be able to take the heat though, and it is impossible to clean.


opinion! I guess we have to focus on things that we think we can control, but it amazes me that in an age where our government has completely given up any pretense of control over the food system, where rodent hair is in most spices, where we feed the chickens newspaper & excrement, where we grind up sheep brains & hormones into the cattle feed, where we import non-inspected vegetables grown next to latrines in every filthy 3rd-world hovel, with rodent droppings throughout, and poisonous adulterants deliberately added in China ... we then we mix it all into 100,000 gallon tanks, shuttle it back and forth across the country, shuffling it all together so it takes weeks or months of ongoing food poisoning to track down salmonella, listeria, and e coli outbreaks -- and people are concerned about the safety of the metal in their forks and bar-b-q grills :-)

Good luck, and Regards,

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

February 27, 2009

A. Aluminum will not work!
If you make your own out of SS, I think that you will have more than $60.00 invested by the time that you are thru.

I think that if you filed for both types of replacement parts at the same time, then you have a right to complain about the second $30. If they were filed at different times or on different requests, then you have no complaint.

Be sure to not buy the same brand when you trash can the current one.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

March 4, 2009

Why not ask why the rust is occurring? I live in central NY, and leave my grill out all year long. I cover it after every use. In the summer I roll it over into a shaded area so temp changes don't create condensation under the cover. I paid $125.00 for it 6 years ago and it still looks great. The cover cost me about $25.00.

Mark Baker
Fellow Plater - Syracuse, New York, USA

January 23, 2018

Q. This is by far the most accessible forum for my question I have found thus far. hope you could answer me specific query:

Can I use ST-37 steel (7 millimeter thick) for cooking grill grates (coal or gas)?
How great is the risk of it warping in the heat?
Please note, my local shop offered ST-37 (I don't know if it's different than ST-37-2) but wouldn't commit to its heat resistance.

erez frankel rubner
- Tel Aviv, Israel

January 2018

A. Hi Erez. I'm no metallurgist, but I always thought that unrelieved stresses from machining, welding, etc. were the cause of warping. If these are welded grates, they probably require stress relief; warpage might occur anyway as fires can get the steel red hot, and consequently soft.

My understanding is that there really is no such thing as ST-37 anymore -- that this was was just a precursor numbering system from decades ago to what we now call ST-37-2. I don't think it has much bearing on the warpage issue. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

April 22, 2019

Q. My hubby wants to make bbq heat shields out of an old fridge door. Is the enamel over steel going to be toxic?

Rebecca Toews
homemaker - Chilliwack, British Columbia Canada

April 2019

A. Hi Rebecca. I think you probably realize that the problem here is that the engineer who was trying to work out how best to design that refrigerator door wasn't thinking much about the possibility that someone might cut it up and use it as heat shields on a gas barbecue, and no epidemiologists are traveling around gathering data on the safety of old refrigerator doors being used as heat shields either. So you're pretty much on your own, and the general safety principle is don't use stuff for purposes for which it wasn't intended.

All that being said, I personally think most of the paint will burn off pretty quickly and you can just break them in with no food on the grill. However, unless that refrigerator is older than dirt, it would surprise me if the sheet metal was thick enough for use as a heat shield without badly warping and burning/corroding through very quickly, whereas you can usually get a set of stainless steel or porcelained heat shields [link is to heat shields on Amazon] for under $20. Good luck!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

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