A grill mat can turn your outdoor grill grate into a full flagged kitchen and help you to prepare everything. But many people ask are grill mats are safe to use. The answer is yes; grill mats are safe if used properly with care. However, the wrong or misuse can turn them hazardous to operate.
Read on to find the answer “ are grill mats are safe?’’ and other factors that make them potentially toxic when using them.
What are Grill Mats?
Grill mats are mostly solid non-stick sheets that provide a uniform and non-stick surface over the cooking grate. They can be used for all types of grills. A grill mate also helps you to clean up your grill smoothly and quickly.
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Benefits Of Grill Mats
- They prevent the grilling food from escaping through the grate while cooking.
- The grill mats are handy and used thoroughly to cook delicate food like fish, salmon, bacon, and all kinds of meat.
- The grill mats minimize the risk of a flare-up by acting as a barrier for excess fat oozing from meat.
- The grill mats provide you with uniform and extra space for preparing food.
- The non-stick surface of grill mats helps you in cooking healthy food.
- The grill mats cook your food evenly and thoroughly.
- The grill mats make the grill clean-up super easy.
- The grill mats are easy to wash and can be reused multiple times.
Are There any Danger of Using Grill Mats?
Various synthetic materials and chemicals are used to make grill mats that make them non-stick and heat resistant.
The high temperature sometimes causes damage to these compounds and breaks down the protective coating into cracks. The fumes from these cracks potentially get into food or the respiratory tract and may be toxic for health.
Different Grill Mat Materials
Not all grill mats are made from the same material. Instead, a variety of materials are used to make them, each with its unique properties. Here’s a short introduction of each material and any possible risk they may have.
The silicone is similar to rubber, stretchable, and resistant to moisture. However, it is not naturally produced like rubber – silicone is 100% synthetic and contains a naturally occurring element known as silicon.
It is a food-grade version of silicone, and probably most of your oven mitts or kitchen or BBQ utensils are coated with silicon that prevents the cookware or grill from scratching.
Silicone bears extreme temperatures well, Plus, it’s non-toxic, containing no lead, latex, or BPA, and all these make it safe for grill mats and other cookware.
Fiberglass is a flexible, durable, easy to clean, and very light material commonly used for grill mats.
The fiberglass is made from heated glass until it converts to liquid, and then strands of glass are made from this liquid. Finally, these strands are used to form other materials like resin.
The fiberglass and resin are used to make a grill mat. Do not use a grill mat if it breaks down and replace it with a new one for safety.
The copper-containing grill mats are made from flexible material and copper woven strands, and the surface is topped with non-stick coating.
Copper-containing mats are durable and long-lasting than other mats. In addition, copper withstands heat well and heats up quickly, and provides evenly distributed heat for cooking.
Copper-containing grill mats are safe when used as directed.
It stands for polytetrafluoroethylene. What is PTFE? It’s the non-stick coating that almost all grill mats have. The most common brand of PTFE is Teflon – the stuff primarily used for coating cookware pans.
PTFE is FDA-approved and non-toxic for health. However, mishandling and using at a high temperature(more than 570°F) can make them harmful.
The use of PTFE has been debated for years, and researchers find an actual toxic chemical known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) used for making PTFE.
The Dangers of Mats with PFOA
PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid. It is used for preparing PTFE, the core chemical used in non-stick cookware.
The PFOA is toxic, acts as a catalyst, and remains inside the body longer.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)in 2003 was deemed PFOA a toxic substance. Subsequently, and ban the use of PFOA.
Now, well-reputed non-stick cookware manufacturers make PFOA-free products.
The PFOA is carcinogenic and causes cancer of the liver, breast testicles, and pancreas.
How to Use a Grill Mate
A good quality grill mat may become toxic if care is not taken during its use. The heating temperature and friction play an essential role when using non-stick grill mats. The following are points that must be ensured when using grill mats.
The grill mats are safe to use but avoid overheating. Grilling at high temperature emits toxic fumes that are dangerous for health. Never put your grill mat at a temperature that the manufacturer does not recommend.
Only the difference of few degrees in temperature converts your grill mat from safe to toxic. The PTEF is stable up to 370°F. After that, however, it changes its composition above 570°F and decomposes at 662°F, and is highly toxic to use for cooking.
Try to avoid friction as much as possible because it breaks or scratches the coating. In addition, certain things must be followed during cooking, cleaning, and storing grill mats.
Use if Right Tools
Always use appropriate tools when using non-stick cookware and grill mat. The use of the wrong tool may damage the coating. Avoid sharp and rough edge tools.
The use of plastic, rubber or wooden cooking utensils enhance your grill mat life. The tongs are the best tool for your grill mat rather than a spatula.
The following are the best tools for non-stick cookware:
- Plastic Tool that has no rough end and is also resistant to heat resistant plastic tools
- Rounded end Wooden spoons
- Silicone spatula
- Nylon utensils
Use The Correct Cooking Method
Using the correct cooking method is also as important as using the right tool when using grill mats.
As mentioned above, little friction can damage the coating of your grill mat. Try to use simple techniques when using a grill mat.
Tips for Cleaning a Grill Mat
The non-stick products are super easy to clean. Here are some tips to safely clean your grill mat:
- First, immediately wash the grill mats after use.
- Do not use harsh and chlorine-containing detergents as they may scratch the surface.
- Soak the mat in soapy, slightly warm water for 30 minutes if it contains harsh residues
- Use a soft cloth or paper towel to wipe the surface of the mat.
- Nylon-scrubbing pads are ideal for cleaning grill mats.
- Most of the grill mats are dishwasher safe. Always place your grill mat on the top rack when using the dishwasher for cleaning.
How to Store you Grill Mat Properly
Quality grill mats are costly, so you need to care even when you are storing them.
Wrong or improper storage is the main reason for premature damage of the non-stick coating of cookware.
Avoid placing them on top of each other when storing non-stick cookware; it may cause scratches and shorten their life. When storing non-stick cookware, avoid stacking them on top of each other as it may cause scratches that are detrimental to their lifespan.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Grill Mats Toxic?
Grill mats are not toxic themselves. The underline factor is fumes emitting from the surface when heated at high temperatures. For grilling, high temperature is used but do not exceed it above 570°F. That is why many people are concerned about are grill mats are safe to use or toxic.
However, carefully using your mats enhances their shelf life and keeps them safe for healthy cooking.
PFOA is dangerous for health and carcinogenic depending upon its period of exposure. However, the majority of PFOA is burned during the manufacturing process and minimizes the risk of exposure.
Another rare disease is polymer fume fever (similar to flu, with fever, body aches, and chills) caused by continuously inhaling the fumes emitting from an extremely hot (730 °F) grill mat. That is the same case that happens with fumes.
Do Grill Mats Cause Cancer?
Depending upon the exposure to PFOA, the expert may suggest the risk of developing cancer or tumor depends upon the duration of exposure. The chances of developing any cancer or tumor increase if you are exposed to PFOA regularly. The PFOA may cause cancer of the liver, testicles, breasts, and pancreas.
However, most PFOA burned during the manufacturing process, and a minimal quantity is present after processing. Therefore, most non-stick cookware is PFOA-free, and the connection between the risk of developing cancer using a grill mat is not significant.
How Many Times We Can Use a Grill Mat?
You can use grill mats on any grill (charcoal, electric, or gas grill) repeatedly. They are easy to wash and are safe to use in the dishwasher. But stop their use when they start to wear and tear. When you discontinue the use of grill mats Depends on how often you use your grill mat. However, with the care, they may last for around 2 to 3 years or longer.
Is PTFE Coating Dangerous?
The PTFE is a significant compound or material used in almost all non-stick cookware and grill mats. The PTFE gives a smooth and non-sticky texture to all Teflon and non-stick cooking utensils. The PTFE is deemed as a non-toxic compound and also FDA approved.
The PTFE itself is non-toxic and safe to use for cookware. However, the PFOA is a compound used for manufacturing PTFE and is considered toxic if used in large quantities, and prolonged exposure causes serious health issues.
However, Manufacturers claim that only a trace amount is present in the non-stick coating because a large amount of PFOA is burned during the processing of PTFE.
The EPA declared PFOA is a toxic substance and banned its use in cookware. As a result, many companies now manufacture cooking utensils that are labeled as PFOA –free.
Are There Any Temperature Ranges For Grill Mats?
All manufacture specified maximum safe to use grilling temperature ranges with grill mats typically between 500°F- up to 600°F the 500°F is an ideal and maximum safe temperature for grill mats.
As discussed above, PTFE changes its composition at 570°F and emits toxic fumes that may be infused into the food.
The temperature range between 300 – 400°F is safer when using grill mats.
Are There Foods You Should Not Cook On Grill Mats?
In terms of safety, you can cook anything on a grill mat. But in terms of Practically speaking, grill mats are not ideal for smoky and roasting meat because the grill mats’ warm air does not reach properly and does not cook the meat evenly.
A non-sticking grill mash is the best option for smoking nuts, veggies, and delicate or smaller items.
So, are grill mats are safe? Or toxic to use.
The final answer to the question are grill mats are safe to use is “yes.” The grill mats are pretty safe to use and are excellent grilling tools. Grill mats allow you to make breakfast on your grill! Grilled hash browns, eggs, and bacon. How about pancakes? Yum! Without grill mats, this isn’t possible.
However, The grill mats are safe to use as long as you follow all safety guidelines we discussed above while using grill mats.
Do we hope this article answers all your questions about are grill mats and their safety.