I received an email from one of my readers recently and he was wondering about the safety of using a charcoal grill on a wooden deck. Well, to be honest, apart from my water smoker which is also fired by charcoal, I always use my charcoal grills on my wooden back deck. But there are a few grilling safety tips that you should definitely follow when grilling with charcoal on a wooden deck.
Give Plenty of Distance from the Walls of your Home
The first precaution that you should take is to ensure that your grill is safely away from the outside walls of your home. I use a Weber Rapidfire chimney starter that you can read about in this article and when I light it(since it is sitting in my grill), I try to move it about 2 feet away from the outside walls of my home. You can check your local fire code for how far you must keep a grill from the walls of your home but, in my opinion, if you give it a couple of feet that should be sufficient.
Be Vigilant Especially when the Charcoal is Lighting
I detail how to light a grill with a chimney starter in this post and there is one point when you should always be outside and next to your grill. That is when the flames from the chimney starter begin to shoot out of the top of the unit. As you can see from the article mentioned above, I place my chimney starter on the lower grate of my Weber Smokey Joe (detailed here) or my Weber One Touch (written about here). From my experience, this is the safest and most appropriate method for lighting a chimney starter. The best part is that once the charcoal is ready to pour, all you have to do is lift it up and pour it onto the bottom grate. You don’t have to move it which could result in hot charcoal from falling onto your wooden deck.
Ensure that you Shut the Top and Bottom Vents when Done Grilling
When I am done grilling I always make sure that I shut both the top and bottom vents of my charcoal grill. Since I re-use charcoal every time I grill, this will prevent the charcoal from burning out so that I can use some of the charcoal the next time I grill. Charcoal briquettes can be expensive so I try not to waste any charcoal if at all possible. Shutting the vents will also eliminate the air flow which should extinguish the burning process. This is the safest thing that you can do after you grill. While you are at it, give your cooking grate a quick swipe with your grill brush so that it is relatively clean the next time you grill.
Check the Ash Pan for Dangerous Ashes
Since the Weber grills that I own have an ash pan, I always check the pan after I am done grilling. I also have a spray bottle available at all time and usually spray any ashes that are left over just in case they get blown onto my deck or onto the ground below. It also makes sense to spray your deck just below the grill before, during, and/or after you grill just as a precaution. The way I look at it, it is better to be safe than sorry.
If you are Concerned, Buy a Fire Mat
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t use one but I am not averse to buying one. In fact, it probably makes a lot of sense to do so if you are at all concerned about a potential fire hazard. I did a little bit of research and present a number of options below that you have for fire-retardant grill mats. I suggest that you read the reviews and, in the future, if I buy one I will review the one that I bought within these pages.
A Grill Mat can Relieve your Potential Fire Hazard Concerns
(Click on any of the grill mats below for more details)
If you are at all concerned about using a charcoal grill on a wooden deck you just might want to invest in one of the grill mats above. I am all for anything that will make your grilling experience more enjoyable and, in this case, worry-free!