Things have changed a bit and it seems like all of our friends (as well as us) use gas or propane grills. I wondered what the deal was…perhaps it plays into our instant gratification and tendency to be impatient because all you typically have to do is flip a switch or push a button and you are off and running.
For whatever reason people are choosing there is some things to think about when it comes to the affect that certain types of grills have on the environment. Gas grills tend to put off fewer emissions than charcoal grills. Measurements performed by the Department of Energy show that grilling with gas for an hour creates 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide, while using charcoal to grill releases 11 pounds of carbon dioxide into the environment every hour.
Most people know that the charcoal that you typically get at the store is loaded with chemicals and has lighter fluid added to them for easy lighting. As it burns, it creates carbon dioxide. Burning charcoal can release 105 times as much carbon monoxide into the air as burning propane, according to the Huffington Post. The Daily Green website states that burning charcoal releases carcinogenic volatile organic compounds, such as benzene, into the air, which contributes to smog levels.
My husband mentioned something called lump charcoal that is real, pure charcoal that does not produce as many emissions when it is burned. It may be hard to find, but you may find it at hardware stores, natural food stores, stores that sell specialized grilling equipment and of course the internet. If you are using propane or some other natural gas, this is a non-renewable resource that had to travel many miles to reach your grill, so that is something to consider with a gas grill.
I don’t mean to be a downer but I want you to know that I am definitely not giving up my grill in these amazing summer days in the Pacific Northwest. But there are some things to consider that can reduce the carbon footprint when grilling!
- Light only one burner if you are cooking a small amount of food.
- Be efficient, if you are using a gas grill be efficient upon lighting the grill. One of the benefits of gas grills is that there is less time spent waiting for it to heat up and therefore faster cooking times. If you are using a charcoal grill, immediately upon removing the food dump water over the coals to stop them from burning, reducing the emissions they are producing and allowing you to reuse them, saving waste.
- Partially cooking your meat is also a way to speed up the time on the grill as well as eliminating some of the juices that may drop onto the burner and cause a flare-up emitting unwanted chemicals that can be inhaled and attach to your meat.
For more ideas on making grilling safe, The Healthy Edge has an incredible series going on in July all about grilling. It’s not too late to take advantage of the great tools, tips and recipes! This is free to all of their subscribers, you can check it out free for 14 days..