In another question, a user proposed burning briquettes on a propane grill in order to get charcoal flavor on the meat.

I don't grill myself, so I don't know enough to judge whether this is a great or a terrible idea. But my mom always told me that playing with fire is dangerous :)

So, are there safety problems with this approach, anything one should look out for?

2 Answers 2


Propane grills mix air with gas before burning it. Ash from charcoal and other contaminants can clog the flue and produce inefficient burning of the gas, possibly produce carbon monoxide (poison) or even gas build up.

As long as the gas parts (igniter, flue, pipes, etc) are clean and unaffected, the charcoal, hickory stick, etc, should not cause any issues to my knowledge.

On the whole, this idea is more on the terrible side than great. A charcoal BBQ is relatively inexpensive and with the aid of a hair-dryer can light up in little time :)

  • I think most of us just use a charcoal chimney to start our coals :-) When I was young and poor, I had a home made one from a coffee can.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Jul 18, 2013 at 15:50
  • You can het a fantastic charcoal grill for $20. One rarely spends, these days, less than $50 on meat :/
    – Fattie
    Sep 3, 2015 at 18:17

It is a common practice on gas grills to smoke using wood chips in a manner similar that described in the referenced question: placing the wood chips in a foil pouch or pan, and allowing them to sit above the gas flame, smoldering, and thus producing smoke.

Note that in the described scenario, the method is the same, except for the fuel: the charcoal is in a foil pouch on top of the grill grate. It is in not down near the lines or elements for the gas flames. Although it may combust more thoroughly than wood chips, the purpose, effect, and outcome are essentially the same: producing smoke.

Aluminum melts at about 1,220 F (660 C); charcoal can burn at a about 1000 F. Furthermore, thin aluminum (such as foil) can burn as well, with an ignition temperature of about 1,440 F (760 C). So there may be some minor risk is that a hot spot from the charcoal could locally melt or burn the aluminum pouch. Both seem unlikely as long as the charcoal is only smoldering, and not burning with a full flame with good air pumping through through to create the highest temperatures.

So, while not traditional, and perhaps not as effective as simply using wood chips, this technique does not sound on the face of it to be completely crazy. For sanity, the air flow to the charcoal should be restricted (not too many holes in the pouch) which will limit the rate at which it can burn or smoke, and minimize the risks.

Still, being conservative, I would not do it; I would stick to wood chips.

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