I busted out my propane grill which I haven't used in over a year and noticed as I was cleaning it that there was a bit of rust on the grill. I tried to get it off but it doesn't seem to want to. Is it safe to grill with some rust on there?

  • What kind of grill? Stainless Steel? You may be able to clean it off with CLR. Rinse it well when you're done.
    – talon8
    Jul 23, 2011 at 4:38
  • Weber, seems like they are stainless steel. Thanks for the CLR tip, might give it a try.
    – Wil
    Jul 23, 2011 at 11:17
  • One thing to check: If your stainless grill grates rusted, what else did? Make sure you don't have damaged burners or valve or a propane leak somewhere. Uncontained fire or explosion will be much more hazardous to your health than rust!
    – derobert
    Jul 25, 2011 at 21:57

2 Answers 2


Rust, or iron oxide, is not poisonous, unless consumed in large amounts. Thus it is relatively safe to grill on your barbeque.

What about the people who get cut by rusty nails and get lockjaw? That's not due to the rust, but rather, due to the bacteria on the rust, which is called, Clostridium tetani, which is found in the soil, and presumably, the nails have had come in contact with the soil, and so actually contains some of these deadly bacteria, and so, when a wound is made by the sharp object, the sharp object(nail) will also infect the wound causing tetanus, or lockjaw.

Which is totally irrelevant to your grill, as I assume, it hasn't actually come in contact with the soil has it?

So, it's safe, relatively

  • Thanks, it hasn't come into contact with any soil, and it's been under a cover the whole time.
    – Wil
    Jul 23, 2011 at 11:17
  • 3
    Your grill will also presumably get hot enough to kill any bacteria before adding the meat
    – Ray
    Jul 23, 2011 at 11:18
  • 1
    @Ray: Most bacteria, including C.tetani, produce toxins and/or spores that are resistant to cooking temperatures, so if the grill was really hosting bacteria for an extended period of time, pre-heating the grill might not help. That situation is incredibly unlikely though, because most bacteria wouldn't survive that long on a grill in the first place (most of the "C" bacteria are obligate anaerobes and can't grow spores in open air.)
    – Aaronut
    Jul 23, 2011 at 16:18
  • Definitely hear you about the toxins, but everything should be denatured by grilling temperatures. The number commonly repeated for Botulinum toxin, for example, is that it is denatured around 140 F. I can't speak to the tetanus toxin.
    – Ray
    Jul 24, 2011 at 4:00
  • @Ray : oddly enough, killing spores is different when dealing with wet vs. dry heat ... 2 hrs at 160°C (320°F) when dry vs. 5 min at 121°C (250°F)
    – Joe
    Jul 25, 2011 at 4:46

In bacteriology laboratories, utensils used for transporting bacteria are flame sterilized. Worrying about spores from the bacteria that cause tetanus, on a grill, is unnecessary.

  • 2
    Hello, and welcome to Seasoned Advice! We insist on some courtesy here, and I considered your old ending rude, so I removed that part. But I agree with the rest of your answer, so +1 too.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 19, 2013 at 9:37

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