Understanding The Steel In Your Stainless Steel Grill

If you are anything like me, buying a grill can be quite overwhelming.

There are so many different options, you think have finally decided and BAM “what material do you want your grill to be made from?”

Spanner is in the works.

The most popular types of BBQ and grill units are made from stainless steel. Once you have it down to stainless steel, you have some decisions to make. Most charcoal smokers are made from heavy gauge steel This helps keep in flavor and most importantly, heat.

You now have to pick which type of stainless you want or need.

It can be a tedious process, that is why I put together this guide to understanding stainless. So you won’t go through what I did.

Let’s get started.

The Two Different Types of Stainless Steel Used in BBQ and Grill Units

Essentially there are two different types of stainless steel used in the construction of stainless grills; Austenitic and Ferritic.

Each has different properties and will react differently to different environments. I will break each one down for you as best I can for you all.

304 Stainless Steel or Austenitic Stainless Steel

304 Stainless, also known as ‘Austenitic stainless’ is the most common type of stainless steel.

It contains between 18 – 20% chromium and 8 – 10.5% nickel. 304 stainless steel also has a strong resistance to most weather conditions we experience. 

Due to this resistance to most weather conditions, 304 steel is a great option for use in outdoor grills. Not only that, but it is also an easy metal to manipulate, and weld with and is known for its strength. 

Due to these exceptional properties, 304 stainless does come at a higher cost than 430 stainless. This means that in general, a grill made out of 304 stainless will be a little more pricey.

304 Stainless Steel Pros

  • Durable
  • Long Lasting

304 Stainless Steel Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not Common

430 Stainless Steel / Ferritic Stainless Steel

430 stainless, also known as ferritic is not as durable as 304 and has less weldability.

430 stainless contains 17% chromium and 0.12% carbon making it only corrosion resistant in mildly corrosive environments. You find that a majority of the top-quality charcoal grills and smokers are made of 430!

Due to its makeup, it is also cheaper than 304 stainless. Therefore a stainless steel charcoal smoker grill made out of 430 will be cheaper.

You will find that a 430 grill won’t be as durable as a grill made from 304 stainless steel.

430 Stainless Steel Pros

  • Cheap
  • Good Aesthetic
  • Easier to Find

430 Stainless Steel Cons

  • Not as Durable
  • Doesn’t hold to the outside elements as well

Stainless steel is popular because of its resistance to bacteria. It is also is resistant to corrosion, and stains & simply looks clean and simple. And to be fair, a clean stainless grill does look amazing.

However, if you let your stainless steel grill get dirty you will quickly see it turn from a work of art, into a dirty, greasy and rain spotted mess.

How to Keep Your Stainless Steel Grill Clean

When it comes to cleaning your BBQ, the best time is straight after use, while the grill is still hot.

But let’s face it who wants to clean their grill when you have delicious food ready to eat?

So, for those of you who want to eat first and clean the stainless stain grill later make sure you follow these tips. Only warm water, add some detergent and give it a scrub, followed by a rinse of clean water.

Be sure to wipe, rub and polish the outer steel with the grain. Do not rub in a circular motion as this can leave marks and wreck the finish. Be sure not to use steel wool or other hard pads, this can also leave marks. Use a soft pad or cloth, it’s all about elbow grease here!

If you are going to use cleaning products to help you keep that new shine, always read the labels beforehand. Remember your grill is a cooking utensil and any cleaning products with harmful ingredients can hang around and taint your food. 

The best cleaner is always good old-fashioned elbow grease! Cleaning the inside of your grill is the most important part, this is where the food is going to be in contact, always be sure to clean the inside diligently.

Once clean always be sure to cover your grill, this will keep it tucked away from the elements and extend its life dramatically.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it comes down to how much you are looking to spend and how weatherproof you need your grill to be.

I personally would lean towards the 304 stainless for its durability to the elements. I am all about buying something for a little more money and having the peace of mind that my grill will last. In the long run that will save me money.

I hope this information comes in handy when picking out your new grill, or giving your existing stainless grill some much-needed TLC.

Happy smoking everyone


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