Controversies about grill mats being unsafe are prevailing like a fire in the forest. All the grillers around the globe are trying to answer the most contentious question: Are grill mats safe? If grill mats are safe, why people out there are claiming that they are unsafe? At what ground safety of grill mats is questionable, the material used, and the proper way to use grill mats. All BBQ lovers are well aware of the privileges of using grill mats. Grill Liners are heatproof non-stick mats that are much easier to clean up in contrast to manual grills.
You need not worry about the sauces, oils, cheese, and eggs oozing out or spilling over the grates. Turn your BBQ stall into a full-service outdoor kitchen. Increase the versatility of your grill using grill mats to provide a uniform cooking surface. Grill mats get you out of all the fuss food leftovers and sticky sauces make.
Safe Grill Mat Materials in Different Types
Not all grill mats are one of a kind. Grillers would know that different kinds of grill mats are available. The main difference is their building material. These grill mats differ mainly based on the properties associated with the particular material used in their making. These materials include fiberglass, Silicone, Copper, PTFE, PFOA, TEFLON, and many more.
Fiberglass cloth or polytetrafluoroethylene (aka PTFE) is the building block of most prevalent grill mats. The same material coats the non-stick pots and makes them slippery. PTFE is tried and tested and considered non-toxic and safe to use until the coating breaks off. Still, it’s not injurious to health. Work great with smoker grill combo
Silicon is rubber-like stretchy, transparent, oil and moisture-resistant synthetic material. Many BBQ utensils and kitchen wares, coated with the food-grade version of silicon, are suitable to cook in for a long time at low temperatures. Lead-free non-toxic silicone is FDA approved and keeps your kitchenware from getting scratched.
Copper Grill Mate:
Copper grill mates have infused copper in them which adds its peculiar taste and aroma to the food cooked. The main reason for the popularity of copper mats is that copper is a great conductor of heat, unlike other building materials. A thick texture makes these mats even more durable and long-lasting.
Teflon Grill Mat:
Teflon grill mats are well known for being black and non-sticky. The black color is to conduct heat at a better rate. Teflon grill mats’ texture ensures uniform heat conduction all over the surface. Some of these mats are free of any toxins and acids, while others bring warnings with them.
PTFE is an acronym for polytetrafluoroethylene. Teflon is the most common PTFE coating almost grill mats use. Some claims PTFE to be hazardous if used at high temperature as it releases fumes. Research shows that ingesting PTFE brings no harm to human health.
PFOA is an acronym for perfluorooctanoic acid. The word ‘acid’ is alarming, but you do not need to worry as it is just a catalyst to make PTFE. There were many controversies regarding PFOA, but by the end of the year 2015, authorities made sure that no company uses PFOA.
Safety Criteria of Using Grill Mats:
Are Grill Mats Safe? Let’s know about it. There are two ways of using grill mats, safe and unsafe. Although grill mats themselves are safe to use and non-toxic, they can produce toxic fumes at high temperatures. Grill mats come with an instruction manual that mentions their heat limit. Usually, it is 500 degrees Fahrenheit, but experts suggest staying between 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grilling requires the application of extreme temperature then the question is how grill mats are safe? PFOA is a toxic material. If it gets in the body, it stays for long. Any prolonged exposure to PFOA increases the healthcare risks. But you need not worry because PFOA reaches you in a neutralized stable form keeping your exposure to toxins minimal.
The other risk you can go through is fume fever. Polymer fume fever has the same symptoms as flu accompanied by fever, body aches, and chills. This is very unlikely to happen. Because, to catch polymer fume fever, one needs to get exposed to highly toxic fumes (forms at 750 degrees Fahrenheit or above) for hours.
All you need to do is to follow some guidelines to stay safe. And these instructions are pretty easy to remember.
The first and foremost thing you need to always remember while working around grill mats is not to go to extreme temperatures. Not only does nonstick material forms fumes at high temperatures even ceramic and iron kitchenware goes through the same. Always stay below the heat limit of the mats. The manufacturers specify the heat limit on the packaging. Pay attention to this while buying the grill mats.
PTFE is stable at low temperatures but as soon as it touches just above 500 degrees Fahrenheit, it starts to collapse. It completely deteriorates at 600 degrees or above. At even higher temperatures, it forms fumes that are highly toxic. These fumes are toxic enough to get you into various terrible health hazards including cancer.
Do not ever put the grill mat directly on flames. A grill mat cannot withstand fire. It starts to melt in fire and fumes can get infused into your food. Grilling usually requires 350 degrees to 400 degrees Fahrenheit temperature but in case you need high temperature, experts recommend to not use grill mats in the first place.
Keep the friction as away from the nonstick surface as possible. Try not to scratch the coating. Do not use iron and metal spatulas with nonstick. Wooden and Plastic spatulas are suitable to use. Even rubber is good but only at low temperatures. Once the coating starts to come off, you should discard the mat. Teflon-coated mats are nontoxic even if the coating comes off but it is not very aesthetic.
Storage and Maintenance
While cleaning the mats, try not to use sharp and abrasive materials. Harsh detergents and scouring pads are not good to use. Never preheat the mats at high or low temperatures. Bring in the mat just when you will start to cook. When finished, do not fold the mats as they will make cracks. Always store it flat or roll it. Do not stack one mat over another.