The Ultimate Grilling Debate: Gas Vs. Charcoal

Imported vs. domestic beer. Hamburgers vs. hotdogs. Charcoal vs. propane. The summertime barbecue debates are endless, but it’s that last one that can really spark conversation. Everyone has an opinion on which type of grill is best, with some swearing by the appeal of traditional charcoal and others preferring the simplicity of a gas grill.

Let’s compare grills and determine if there are health benefits to propane and gas grills. To start the comparison, ask yourself these questions:

How Often Do You Grill?

If you’re a 3-times-per-summer griller, the speed and ease of lighting your grill probably isn’t a major factor. If you barbecue once or more per week, however, there’s a good chance that the instant lighting and rapid heating of a propane grill is the most convenient option for you. You can also choose to light only half of a gas grill, while you always need a significant amount of charcoal to get proper hot coals.

Are You Concerned With Eating Healthy?

The way you grill your food can have an impact on how healthy it is. Not only does burnt food simply taste bad, but burning any fuel releases carcinogenic compounds. Many brands of charcoal are made with various chemicals, including lighter fluid to help them ignite more easily. When it comes to controlling the heat and grilling uncharred meat, fish and vegetables that are beneficial to your health, gas might be the better option.

Which Produces the Most Heat?

Heating is where the charcoal grill earns its reputation. While hot coals are at a lower temperature (around 2000° F as opposed to 3500° F for propane), the radiant heat that’s created is what aids in most of the cooking. This amount of heat is greater with charcoal than with gas.

However, to solve this problem, modern gas grills are designed to be used with ceramic plates or lava rocks. The gas can heat the rocks or plates, which give off the radiant heat required to grill.

Are You Concerned With the Environment?

It’s natural to consider the impact your grill is making on the environment. If you’re concerned with your carbon footprint, a gas grill may be more up your alley. Not only does propane burn cleaner than charcoal, but drippings from your food are more likely to flare-up on a charcoal grille and release smog-creating chemicals.

What About the Taste?

Many traditionalist barbecue fans will tell you that there’s no beating the taste of food cooked on a charcoal grill vs. a gas grill. However, the famous aroma that comes from charcoal is more related to the added chemicals in the briquettes than the charcoal itself. In reality, it’s the seasoning and drippings of the food you’re cooking that burn on the coals or plates of either type of grill that will create an enjoyable taste. If you get your marinade and sauces right, you can experience the same taste from either grill.

Finding the Best Option

Gas grills are easy to light, quick to heat up, and are easy to adjust for the optimal temperature. You’ll also have more peace of mind if you’re concerned with your health and the environment. That’s not to say that the charcoal barbecue is going anywhere — many people will continue to enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon charcoal barbecue from time to time. Once you decide on the best type of grill for your lifestyle, Foster Fuels can provide reliable fuel service when you need it.

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