galvanized grill = death?

I recently received a homemade BBQ grill from a friend. But the metal drum he used to make it is galvanized.

I thought galvanized + fire + food = death, or some slow, horrible, withering, worse than death state.

This guy is a welder by trade so I would think he should know something about metal properties and surface treatments. But then again, he cooks on old refrigerator grates in his own grill – another no-no, I thought.

Googling doesn’t turn up the concrete answer I wanted; like “do this and die” or “it’s just a myth.”

Help. I’m afraid to cook out.


I don’t have any concrete evidence to cite except for the labels i’ve seen during my 7 years at Ace Hardware. On the galvanized nails a label is shipped inside and printed on the box to wash hands after handling b/c it contains elements known to cause cancer in the state of California. But on boxes of roofing nails that are electrogalvanized there is no such warning. So is it possible that your grill is electro galvanized? I’m not saying that electrogalvanized IS perfectly safe, but i’m not saying that is isn’t either.

I have come to the determination that everything causes cancer in the state of California. My rice cooker came with a tag saying “Wash hands after handling as this product may contain materials known to cause cancer.” It was a bloody rice cooker and clearly safe for use. I generally only worry about things that are lables as such for the entire nation.

The only thing that I can think of which could pose a danger with galvanizing is the zinc involved. (Too much of it can be a bad thing.) Zinc melts at a fairly low temp for metal (600 F or so), and though you wouldn’t be cooking food at that temp, it’s still possible for the metal to reach that temp. However, I wouldn’t sweat it too much. If the galvanizing was done properly, then the zinc is well bonded to the other metal and unlikely to come off in levels that are hazardous. Even if it wasn’t done properly, there’s still not much to worry about. All you have to do is fire the grill up and just not cook anything on it the first time. That will burn off the zinc which is not bonded properly. If the metal flakes at any point in the grill’s life, then scrubbing it with a stiff wire brush (which you should do anyway) will get rid of it.

Not a clue, all I can tell by looking at it is that it is galvanized. The (original) contents sticker and one other label are still there but illegible.

Almost an exact quote from my friend that made the grill. And if you are wondering why this is such a thorn for me, Mrs. Rainy has been asking for one of this guys homemade grills for a looong time. Then he goes and makes a gift of it instead of letting me pay him for the work. And he comes by the house fairly regular, so I can’t not use it without hurting somebody’s feelings.

I forsee several months of making it appear to be used and then arranging an “accident” involving a galvanzied grill and a propane truck. :frowning:


This came up on a BBQ board where I hang out. IIRC the consensus was that galvanized was very bad if you were doing a high temp sear. However it might be ok for doing low and slow bbq.
hey it’s you health, You do what you want. Me I’d get a different cooker.

Has he made a lot of galvanised drums into grills? Check with the people he gave them to, if he has. See if they look well.

Otherwise, one of you (whichever of you and your wife will be most convincing) take him aside and explain that while YOU are not at all concerned about the grill, your dear spouse has become paralysed with fear over using it, so please, pretty please, could he swap it for one of his non-galvanised models instead? And here, for his trouble, is a gallon-tub of home-made sushi you’ve made for him, out of the blow fish you got cheap on the internet.

Galvanized steel gives of a large amount of toxic gas when welded but that is a much higher temp that would ever been seen when grilling.

I don’t agree with the theory that anything that doesn’t fall off when you first “burn in” a grill will be perfectly safe. Hot metal in the presences of oxygen = accelerated corrosion. More metal will flake off.

I don’t know that a galvanized grill is unsafe but it would be my preference to not have galvanized parts on my grill that get hot.

Zinc, a heavy metal, can be toxic, though I wouldn’t worry about it nearly as much as mercury or lead. Its salts and combustion products, like zinc oxide, are often more toxic, especially if inhaled. Zinc oxide, in particular, is common and harmless in topical ointments and in oral preparations BUT NOT INHALED (OSHA limit 5mg/cubic meter) The most prevalent toxic effect of zinc oxide fumes is “metal fume fever,” with symptoms including chills, fever, muscular pain, nausea, vomiting, mental disorders and the ever-popular death.

I could go into the other harmful effects, proven and potential (and I’m the kind of guy who tends to live dangerously) on both humans and animals, but I think that is enough to make the point. If you really want more, try googling zinc toxicity. Why do you think no commercial manufacturer makes any model using zinc on a grilling surface?

No degree or quality of material bonding will help. Zinc burns fairly easily. Don’t take my word for it. Get some zinc at the hardware store or toy store (chemistry set) or peel an unobtrusive sliver off some corner of the grill – and hold it in the flame of a butane lighter with a pair of tweezers. You’ll see.

DO NOT ignite zinc powder or fine shavings. It could cost you an eyebrow or two. It’s not nearly as bad as, say, magnesium, but finely divided combustibles in general can flare quite rapidly.

He is one of those “whatever you have on hand” kind of guys, so this is his first galvanized grill.

Thanks everyone for all the input. The “no commercial manufacturer makes one” arguement has been at the front of my thoughts on the issue too. Guess I’ll be hurting somebody’s feelings.