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grilling - aluminum science question

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Adamclyde's jerk chicken recipe is getting soon to hit the grill . . .

but we've got a bag of natural charcoal that has many many small bits that are falling through to the bottom of the grill. Until we find a discarded Weber to scavenge a second bottom grate from, SO thought to supplement the existing system with gutter guard mesh.

But that's a roll of ALUMINIUM gutter guard mesh. Any thoughts about the bad burning idea this might be? I put away my grandma's cast aluminum pans a decade ago . . .

Again, this is for the bottom grate where the coals are, not the top grate where the food goes. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  1. I have the weber kettle that has the three slots in the bottom, with the wiper mechanism, and the ash trap - so what I do may only work with that.

    I have the same issue with the real wood charcoal - it seems that it's been getting smaller and smaller (at least the cowboy brand) - and it just tends to fall through the bottom grill. It's not that much of a problem, really, as they sit on the bottom and still provide heat as they burn - since they're already lit through the chimney starting process. If anything falls through, it's onto the trap, so no big deal.

    But my real problem has been with the weber chimney I use to start the coals - the bottom grate holes are pretty big, and the real wood charcoal just falls through - so I can't get it lit.

    So I've been using a layer of standard Kingsford Charcoal briquettes on the bottom of the chimney, and then loading the rest of it with the cowboy stuff. Once lit, I dump them across the bottom grate of the weber, and even if some fall through, there's enough on the grill to spread out and provide the even cooking.

    A side benefit to the mix of the briquettes is that they burn less hotter and longer, so I have a somewhat lower temp, longer burning fire overall, while still getting the flavor benefit of the real wood charcoal.

    The downside would be that there's more ash, and that all the nastiness of the briquettes chemicals are there - of course, I'm using much less than one would without the real wood stuff, so presumably there's less of the nastiness. There's a brand of real wood charcoal that I can get at a local Ace Hardware store that usually has bigger chunks. It costs more than the Cowboy stuff, but I may shift to that permanenetly.

    I learned my aluminum lesson when as a young pup, I decided that pop-riveting coke cans onto my broken exhaust system was a good thing to do. Nope... I have melted aluminum foil sitting on the bottom grate (with the coals, but not on them). I fashioned a drip tray underneath the meat on the rottiserie attachment - once again, nope. I now put on the top grate and put the drip tray on that. Obviously, the heat at the bottom is higher than that where the top grate is, hot enough to melt foil. I guess I would counsel to not use aluminum at the level of the coals.

    1. Bad idea. Burning aluminum has just got to be nasty, and lump charcoal gets hot enough to burn some if not all of it.

      You can get a replacement grate at a good store or online. And, you don't really need the grate anyway with lump charcoal -- the grate just keeps the fire from smothering in the huge amounts of residue that briquettes leave behind. Briquettes burn slower, cooler and more evenly because they consist in large part of clay binders, which of course do not burn off. The ash from lump charcoal is light enough that air can move through it and keep the fire going.