Can You Grill On Rusty Grates? (Expert’s Guide)

Rust itself spoils the look of your shiny grill grates. The eroding of the metal due to the rust leads the metal to come out as dust. This looks messy and unclean. As you are grilling the meat upon these grills, the question of safety can often pop up in your mind. So, can you grill on rusty grates?

Grilling on a rusty grill is safe. The most mishap that can happen if you keep cooking on a rusty grill is breaking the grates! Keep reading the article to learn more about the effects of a rusty grill grate and how to get rid of it.

Can You Grill On Rusty Grates? All You Need To Know

Can You Grill On Rusty Grates?

Rusty grills do nothing harmful to the food cooked on them except mess with the taste. Rust does not have any major health implications, but it is not advisable to keep cooking on such a grill. If you continue to cook on the rusted grates for a prolonged period, the rust can get loose from the grill and stick to the food affecting the taste. 

Consuming iron oxide, which is iron, will do nothing to you but can add to your iron intake. But in addition to moisture intake, the grill can be bad for the tool. Rust makes the grates weaker, which can lead to their breaking of it. Therefore, to add to the machine’s longevity, it is advisable not to keep cooking on a rusted grate and clean it daily. 

Is it Safe to Consume Food Grilled on Rusty Grates?

As discussed earlier, consuming food grilled on a rusty iron gate is safe. If you do not have any health issues that do not allow the intake of iron, it is just an addition to your diet. Rust on the grates, if kept uncleaned for a prolonged period, can lead to the sticking of the rust on the food, hampering the taste of the delicacy.

Is it Safe to Consume Food Grilled on Rusty Grates
Is it Safe to Consume Food Grilled on Rusty Grates?

Also, keeping on grilling on the same rusted stove for a very long time can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, as consumption of large amounts of iron oxide, can be toxic. This can be particularly problematic if you have kids eating the same food, so it is the best option to clean the grates of the grill regularly.

Can Eating Food Cooked on a Rusty Grilling Grates Cause Tetanus?

First, to clear the infamous misconception, tetanus is caused by a particular bacteria called clostridium tetani. Rust on the iron gates from the exposure of the metal in the humid weather where the iron reacts with moisture and oxygen to form iron oxide. The bacteria that cause tetanus tend to live in very similar conditions. That is why it is often misinterpreted that the consumption of rust can cause tetanus.

Grills are heated enough to cook raw meat, even without a lid. Henceforth, the heat created kills any bacteria on the grates. This eliminated the chances of your intake of the bacteria through the food cooked on the grills.

Why do Grill Grates Rust?

Iron grill grates can get rusted when exposed to moisture. When exposed to the humid weather, the grates that are not coated react with water and oxygen to form hydrated iron (lll) oxide, which we commonly term rust. Also, meat is usually washed before they are put on the grate to be cooked. The water gets absorbed on the metal as it heats, leaving a stain upon the grates. 

Why do Grill Grates Rust
Why do Grill Grates Rust?

Continuous repetition of this process will sustain the marks leading to the formation of rust. The juice secreted from the meat while it is being cooked, if not cleaned properly, can lead to the formation of rust on the grill. In such cases, proper cleaning of the grates becomes essential. Grills in the coastal area should be kept under regular maintenance to keep them away from rusting.

How to Remove Rust from Grill Grates?

There are several ways to efficiently eliminate the rust from your grill grates without much work. To know more about the processes, go through the steps listed below:

Scrape the rust using sandpaper and wire brush

Rust stains are tough to clean if only soap and sponge are used. The grill is to be scrubbed vigorously using sandpaper to get rid of the accumulated rust in the first place. The sandpaper will smoothen the grates that had become uneven due to the rust. 

Scrape the rust using sandpaper and wire brush
Scrape the rust using sandpaper and wire brush

You can also use a wire brush and move it back and forth along the grate to scrub out the rust buildup. Go for the soft brushes that will only scrub out the rust formation. Such brushes do not cause any damage to the metal or scrub out the coating of the grill.

Use a baking soda to clean the grates

After you scrubbing the grates, it is time to wash out the remnants. Baking soda, in such a case, is one of the best options. Mix small quantities of baking soda with water to make a perfect mixture.

Apply the thick paste evenly although the grates and leave it for 1 hour. Wash the grates thoroughly in warm water to get shining grades. Wash the grates twice ro make sure there is no trace of the mixture left on the grates.

Use homemade vinegar and salt blend

Mix two halves of vinegar and one-half of salt in a container and mix it well. Apply the solution to the grill grates and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. For best results, you can put it in a garbage bag. Wash it thoroughly, and your grill is ready for the next use.

Use homemade vinegar and salt blend
Use homemade vinegar and salt blend

Use Lemon and Detergent Solution

The lemon and detergent mixture is another infamous mixture to clean the grill grates. Take two cups of detergent and squeeze one whole lemon onto it. Apply it thoroughly and let the solution sit on the grates for atleast 30-40 minutes. Wash it with warm water.

Commercial Rust Remover Spray available in the market

If you are looking for an easy way to get rid of rust, you can always purchase rust remover spray from the market. This investment can magically remove the rust stains from your grill. Usually, the directions to use such products are written on it.

How to Prevent Rust on Grill Grates?

‘Prevention is better than cure’. You can prevent your grill from rusting, so there is no need to look for rust-releasing steps. Some of the steps for preventing your grills from getting rusted are discussed below:

  • Clean your grill regularly. This way, you can maintain the machine’s hygiene and prevent rust accumulation.
  • You can use waterproof vinyl or nylon grill mats to prevent the iron grates from reacting with the moisture and other elements in the atmosphere.
  • One of the finest solutions to get rid of rusted iron grates is to install a ceramic coated grill. The coat on the iron grates prevents rust from accumulating and keeps the moisture from getting underneath.

Can You Cook on a Rusty Grill?

It has been discussed earlier that you can cook on a rusty grill. It does not harm your health if consumed in small quantities. However, iron oxide or rust that is formed on the grill, if left for a long period, may become a loose stick to the food. It can hamper the meal’s flavour and pave the way to several iron toxications. Hence, it is best is the grill is cleaned regularly and maintained accordingly.

You May Also Find Useful: Do Blackstone Griddles Rust? | Is Grilling With Wood Safe?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you burn rust off cast iron grill grates?

Yes, it is possible to burn out the rust off cast iron grill grates if the stains are recent. You can simply burn the grill until the metal can be seen. This is a sort of self cleaning process.

What happens if you accidentally eat rust?

If you accidentally eat rust in very small quantities, nothing will happen. Rust is just iron oxide that adds some more iron to your food!

Is it OK to cook with a rusty skillet?

It is not okay to cook your meals with a rusty skillet. It adds it disrupts the flavor of your food. Adding large quantities of rust to the food can cause major health issues, including nausea, abdominal pain etc.


Rusty grills are not that harmful in the first place. But it is better to keep your grills clean. This will enhance the flavor of the delicacy being prepared and maintain hygiene. Cleaning the grills is a very easy, and prevention is far easier. So why cook food on a rusted grill? Follow the steps provided in our article to have a rust free grill to serve your favorite delicacies!

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