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Kim Shook

Any tips for avoiding soot when cooking on a grill?

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Not sure where this question should go, so if it needs to be moved - thanks!  

 

I occasionally need to sear something in what the TV chefs like to call a screaming hot pan.  Even opening windows and turning on the exhaust, you get a LOT of smoke.  My lungs just can't take it and I cough for hours and feel breathless (long ago I was diagnosed with largely asymptomatic asthma).  Our gas grill has a burner and it occurred to me that it was the answer to this dilemma.  It was, but created another problem.  When I went to clean my iron skillet, the bottom and outer sides were covered with a thick layer of soot.  It took at least 5 washings to get it off.  Is there something i can do to prevent this?  I thought maybe covering the bottom with a couple of layers of heavy duty foil (like you do a springform pan in a water bath), but Mr. Kim thinks it would just burn up the foil.  Any ideas??  Thanks!

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I hear you with regard to smoke in the house! Anything smoky or grease-spatteringly messy happens outside around here.

 

In my (limited) experience, soot like that suggests that the burners aren't burning cleanly. Is there any way to clean the burners - say, make sure the ports are clear? I'm not sure I'd know how to do it with our gas grill, but we have a lot of tinkerers on the forum (@dcarch, are you listening?) who may be able to help.

 

Another possibility is to use a pan that you don't mind getting and leaving sooty for the season. We have one dedicated to outdoor work that hangs on the outside wall. A variation on that would be to put a griddle atop the burners and let it be the one to get sooty, then put the pan atop the griddle. The pan shouldn't get smoky then. I don't think the heat transfer would be as good with that setup, though.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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If there is an adjustment for air, you may need more air for an efficient burn.  My outdoor burner is like that.  And yes, I now do my searing in the outdoor kitchen area.

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Coat the outside of the pan with dish soap before putting it on the grill. 

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if any pan heating on top of a gas flame is collecting soot, there is absolutely no question - the burners need adjustment/maintenance.

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The answer, as Smithy already stated, is that you need a dedicated cast iron pan for high heat searing. (Where's the flame font when you need it?)

 

Soot aside, you will do nothing but burn away your well-seasoned intentions over time by using your favorite pan over a screaming-hot burner. I use a cheap Lodge pan for searing duties over my charcoal Vortex.


So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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5 hours ago, Kim Shook said:

Not sure where this question should go, so if it needs to be moved - thanks!  

 

I occasionally need to sear something in what the TV chefs like to call a screaming hot pan.  Even opening windows and turning on the exhaust, you get a LOT of smoke.  My lungs just can't take it and I cough for hours and feel breathless (long ago I was diagnosed with largely asymptomatic asthma).  Our gas grill has a burner and it occurred to me that it was the answer to this dilemma.  It was, but created another problem.  When I went to clean my iron skillet, the bottom and outer sides were covered with a thick layer of soot.  It took at least 5 washings to get it off.  Is there something i can do to prevent this?  I thought maybe covering the bottom with a couple of layers of heavy duty foil (like you do a springform pan in a water bath), but Mr. Kim thinks it would just burn up the foil.  Any ideas??  Thanks!

 

Are you sure you are talking about soot? I am not sure your can get soot from burning gas. I could be wrong. What you may be getting is grease/fat dripping down on the fire and vaporizes. The vapor gets condensed on the bottom of your cookware and gets carbonized.

 

I don't know soot can get caked on bottom of cookware. If it is soot, you can wipe it off with a paper tower. What you are describing sound more like carbonized accumulation of cooking oil/fat.

 

To tell if your gas burner is adjusted properly: if the flame is blue, you are OK. If the flame is orange, it needs to be re-adjusted.

 

Soot and smoke are airborne  microscopic particles. If they create problems for you indoors, you may be able to get your doctor to write you a prescription to buy an electrostatic sir cleaner.

 

dcarch

 

 

 

  

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3 hours ago, dcarch said:

 

Are you sure you are talking about soot? I am not sure your can get soot from burning gas.

  

 

I used to work for a company that made carbon black (soot, if you will) by burning natural gas with insufficient oxygen for complete combustion.  Incomplete combustion may mean the stove is misadjusted.

 

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I have this one

https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/master-chef-stand-fryer-0853259p.0853259.html?gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=CjwKCAjw27jnBRBuEiwAdjQXDE4QtQzcYYlKVV2iRrtM_uMBvCPDZr0ddjT2dxc7furiyCPx_LDKuxoCJ1IQAvD_BwE#store=351

 

where the hose connects  the shaft is open and the stainless steel slide is moved back over the shaft to the appropriate spot so the gas burns blue.

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I was going to suggest incomplete combustion as well. This is strange and is not something that should happen with gas burners, even the side-burners on grills. If you dial back the gas flow and double check that there's proper ventilation, that should solve the problem. As Okanagancook points out, there's probably a simple adjustment you can make on your grill that will get things working; check out the grill's manual, as it likely has instructions on how to do exactly this. Side burners on grills are often used infrequently, and often get neglected. I know that's the case on my family's grill. Over the seasons, they can go from functioning well to in need of a servicing. Pollen and spiders like to clog things up, and hot-cold-hot seasonal cycles can make connectors and regulators wiggle ever so subtly. We must be forever vigilant in our battles with entropy.

 

Also, if anyone's looking for a cheap gas burner for outdoor searing, I highly recommend the Iwatani 35FW butane powered stove. It is the most powerful portable gas burner on the market, and the fact that you can take it anywhere is a real game-changer -- even for those of us lucky enough to have outdoor grills with side-burners. If it's raining outside, I can sear on my front porch instead! And if I ever need to go to someone's house and don't trust their stove... or go to a picnic or camping... or start a catering business... or...

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the usual and customary suspect with grills/outdoor stuff is spiders/etc inhabiting the piping during idle periods.  nests/egg sacs /etc block the air flow....

 

the portability factor can come into play if all the components / air flow gates / etc were not snugged down after proper adjustment/set up.

if loose those parts can bounce out of position a lot easier than on a kitchen stovetop....

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