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Stainless Steel Type For BBQ Grill Parts Replacement

Updated on March 1, 2010

Stainless steel for outdoor bbq grill parts

This is a picture of a DCS, Dynamic Cooking Systems gas grill, one of the first to use 304 stainess for outdoor barbeque grill parts.
This is a picture of a DCS, Dynamic Cooking Systems gas grill, one of the first to use 304 stainess for outdoor barbeque grill parts.

When your stainless steel BBQ grill parts are left exposed to the elements, the chances of deterioration is a lot higher. Conditions such as acid rain, pollution, scratches from knives and other hard equipments, excessive heat and chemicals that cause corrosion are some of the factors that should be taken into consideration. It must be pointed out, however, that there are some stainless steel grills that are made from very poor material being sold on the market. If you have one of these then cleaning will not improve it aesthetically nor prevent it from becoming corroded.  You will have to buy a new one. How then can you protect your stainless steel grill from corrosion or excessive wear and tear?

To prevent your stainless steel grill from becoming corroded then you will have to apply a thin layer of chromium oxide. The chromium oxide will then work with the oxygen that is in the air to form a protective film that hinders anything from corroding the stainless steel surface. Some of the most common agents that are known to cause the corrosion of stainless steel are: dust, dirt, salt in the atmosphere and other chemicals that when combined with the oxygen in the air or even other agents accelerate the corrosion that is present on the surface of the stainless steel surface.  Pool chemicals are the worst of the bunch.  Pool chemicals dissipate into the atmosphere by using the oxygen atoms in the air.  Oxygen atoms will react with chromium in good quality 304 grade stainless steel to protect the stainless.  When pool chemicals are near the stainless and use the oxygen atoms it is a double whammy: the chromium is unable to protect the surface because the oxygen is being used and chlorine corrodes the stainless now totally defenseless.  I have seen very expensive grills and built in accessories in outdoor kitchen rot to dust in less than a year due to improper storage of pool chemicals.

Never rub your stainless steel grill with any abrasive detergent cloth or cleaning fiber such as steel wool or iron brushes. The reason for this is due to the substances that they leave behind which can cause the stainless steel to rust and eventually corrode. Some detergents are also not to be used due to the spots that they leave behind. Always use a mild liquid soap and apply warm water when cleaning. However, never allow it to dry on the stainless steel surface as some contain chemicals that can damage the surface. You can use microfiber or any other high absorbent material to dry the surface.  Cleaning should be done immediately when the oils and stains are easy to clean. Some people allow the oil to build up and food stains to accumulate and then wonder why the stainless steel BBQ parts are corroding and losing its shiny appearance. Wet sponges and cloths should also not be left on the grill, as once again these are known to facilitate the breakdown of its surface. 

How to clean and maintain stainless steel outdoors is highly dependant on the type pf stainless steel used.  My best results with 304 grade stainless steel grills have been with WD-40.  WD-40 is not a detergent or a cleanser but a degreaser used to rinse bicycle chains, door hinges, etc.  The degreaser will loosen and fingerprints, grease splatter or dirt making the stainless easy to wipe down to a clean shine.  With the less expensive barbecues that do not use a 304 grade stainless (and even some highly regarded barbecues like Weber and Broil-King do this) a 400 grade or 200 grade will be used.  With these types of stainless a stainless steel cleaning product can be used.  Often a stainless cleaner will leave behind a chromium oxide residue or an oily residue both intending to block humidity.  This residue will impede the chromium in high quality 304 stainless but will protect the lesser grade steel.

It by bad luck you happen to scratch or blemish the surface of your stainless steel grill the scratch can usually be removed.  When the stainless is 304 or 316 the chromium is added to the stainless during the smelting process and the outer layer is not a plating.  A product like Bar Keepers Friend or a stainless cleaning kit with a mildly abrasive pad will shave away a layer of the steel.  This process will hide the scratch by shaving the steel around it.

When you are cleaning your stainless steel grill then it is important that you follow the grain of the surface. This will avoid it being damaged when one applied a force that is contrary to how the grain is laid out. Look how the grain finish lines are laid out and follow then as best as possible. It is also important the water you are using does not have any minerals. Some minerals facilitate the overall deterioration of the stainless steel surface, making it corrosive and prone to rusting.

Some stains that do not affect the overall surface of the stainless steel grill and just its appearance, then these can be easily removed by applying a sodium carbonate and warm water. Once again the grain of the surface should be observed and cleaning should be done according to how the it is laid out. However, the most common discoloration in a gas barbeque grill is due to heat transfer.  Heat build-up inside the closed BBQ hood will turn stainless steel orange.  Clients call us believing the hood is beginning to rust but it is the discoloration from grilling at high temperatures with the grill hood closed.  A high temperature grill should be grilling with the hood open and the hood should nly be closed when a low heat is used for barbecuing.  Most BBQ grills will have a double layered hood.  A double layered hood allows a secondary sheet of stainless to absorb the heat keeping the outer layer clean and shiny.

Understanding the different types of stainless steel in the marketplace allows you to properly maintain your BBQ grill.  The type of stainless and how you maintain the material will keep your BBQ beautiful and functional for many years.  Even barbeques that use a lower quality stainless on the hood and body will often use a 304 stainless for the barbeque grill burners, heat shields and cooking grates.


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