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Grilling may be one of Americans favorite ways to cook food. And the last thing anyone needs is a gas grill that won’t fire up because it’s out of propane.
Before you pass the appetizers and light the grill, you might want to check your supply of fuel—a task that can prove challenging due to the opaque exterior of the propane tank. Luckily, gauging how much propane you have left is easier than you think. All you need is a glass of water.
You can easily save your next barbecue from the certain embarrassment that comes with unexpectedly running out of fuel, and you don’t even need a gauge. Just follow these simple step-by-step instructions from CHOW:
Check Your Propane Levels At Home
1. Make sure the gas is turned off.
2. Disconnect your propane tank from your grill.
3. Pour a glass of warm water, carefully, along the side of the tank.
4. Feel the tank: The propane will absorb the heat of the water, so it will feel cool to the touch where there is propane, and warm where it’s empty.
As CHOW video producer Blake Smith notes, a full tank provides about 20 hours of grill time—which could cover three to 10 cookouts, depending on how long you’re grilling for guests. If you have more than a quarter of the tank left, you should be good to go for your next outdoor grill party.
Just remember to follow extra safety precautions if you’re using a gas grill.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, gas grills contribute to a higher number of fires than charcoal grills.
Grill Safety Tips
To ensure your barbecue doesn’t result in any emergency room visits, follow the NFPA’s safety tips. Before you use your grill:
1. Take a look at the connection points that are between the propane tank hose and the regulator and the cylinder (where the hose connects to the burners). If any of these are loose, tighten them.
2. Next, check the propane tank hose for potential gas leaks. The NFPA suggests applying “a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle.”
3. Finally, turn on the propane tank. You’ll know there’s a gas leak because the propane will release visible bubbles around the hose. No bubbles? Your grill is ready to go. But if you see bubbles, the NFPA advises you to turn off the tank and check connections. You may need to have your grill serviced by a professional before you can use it again.
Watch For Grill Brush Bristles
You should also know the safest way to clean your grill.
A recently published study revealed that nearly 1,700 Americans have ended up in the emergency room between 2002 and 2014 due to wire bristles left on grill grates. And that doesn’t include incidents that have gone unreported, or people who instead went to urgent care facilities.
The most common issue is that stray brass bristles are often left behind, ending up on the food, which in turn can cause some pretty unpleasant stomach and intestinal injuries if they happen to be swallowed.
So while that hard-bristled grate-cleaning brush seems like the perfect tool to use, you might be better off cleaning your grill sans bristles.
One way to effectively clean your grill is by using a grill block, which is similar to a pumice stone. Using a grill block allows you to clean the grates no matter what temperature they’re at, and is said to be a safe cleaning method for all types of grates.
Another option is to use a bristle-free coil-shaped brush. This eliminates the potential of wired bristles coming loose and sticking to your grill grates.
There are also liquid grill cleaners on the market. The cleaners come in either a foam or a spray and, when you use them with something like a Brillo pad, they should eliminate the need for that wired brush.
And when you’re cleaning your grill, no matter which products you use, it’s just as important that you make sure you’re using the proper technique, cleaning all of the necessary parts, disposing of grease properly, and doing everything you can to maintain your grill. It also never hurts to take a glance at the owner’s manual that came with your grill, as there are probably some tips on how to clean your specific model and type of grill.
Now that you know, get back to that grill and do me up some baby back ribs and corn on the cob. Happy grilling!
Megan Fenno contributed to this story.