Gas and Charcoal BBQs have been a staple of backyard grilling for decades, but are these power tools enough to keep harmful pollutants from going into the atmosphere and adding to our environmental concerns?
Yes, gas BBQs emit fewer greenhouse gasses than charcoal (though it’s worth mentioning that those numbers vary depending on the type of gas BBQ). Besides that, gas smokers are cleaner because they generate less smoke. Despite being much quieter than their charcoal counterparts, these heaters still release low-level pollutants like nitrogen oxides and particulates.
What Exactly Are Greenhouse Gasses?
Greenhouse gases, otherwise known as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), are all made up of carbon and hydrogen. They’re created when fuel burns, which is how charcoal and gas smokers produce them. While these gasses are naturally occurring, it’s easy to drastically increase their levels by creating a closed system that traps the gas.
Greenhouse gases are what trap heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere, and many believe that an excess of them is contributing to global warming.
The natural process of photosynthesis helps remove some of these gases from the air. Still, we’re speeding up global warming when humans take too much charcoal out of the ground and fuel sources like natural gas. Other pollutants like particulates and nitrogen oxides are associated with charcoal burning.
Ways To Reduce Your Charcoal and Gas BBQ Gas Emissions
Both charcoal and gas BBQs emit harmful gases into the atmosphere, but these can easily be reduced using products that help regulate emissions.
Depending on what you plan on cooking, you’ll have to pay attention to the types of fuel that you use to cook. Charcoal is more forgiving, meaning you can use it for anything from chicken to burgers. On the other hand, gas BBQs rely on natural gas and propane to produce heat.
1. Using A Natural Gas Grill Cover
Natural gas grills require cover, which can come in the form of a simple plastic sheet or a more durable grill cover resembling a chimney. The latter can also be used to store charcoal inside the unit, which reduces emissions.
2. Using A Charcoal Grill Cover
If you plan on only using your gas BBQ for grilling, consider investing in a charcoal lid that acts as a small chimney. These are designed to help keep your charcoal burning, so you’ll need to use less fuel. Depending on your grilling, you may only need a few pieces of charcoal to get the job done.
3. Using Natural Gas
If you’ve got the option of using natural gas instead of propane, then it’s worth considering. It’s estimated that natural gas can be up to 90% cleaner than propane, which is one of the main reasons it’s often used in Europe.
4. Using A Chimney in Your Kitchen
Chimneys have been around for decades and have been used to minimize the amount of charcoal used. To help regulate the amount of fuel, this type of grill cover has a handle at each end, and both handles are used to put down more charcoal than you’re using.
5. Using Greener Charcoal Alternatives
Charcoal briquettes aren’t necessarily bad, but they have a high carbon footprint due to their mild processing. If you’re considering reducing your carbon footprint and are concerned about the number of greenhouse gasses you’re emitting, consider using charcoal briquettes that have been organically processed.
Carbon Products Don’t Just Harm the Environment – They Can Hurt You
Charcoal and gas BBQs are a staple of backyard cooking, but be careful how you use them. If you plan on having a barbecue next month, remember to keep the charcoal you burn to a minimum. If possible, use natural gas instead of propane or propylene. Natural gas is often seen as an alternative to charcoal because it burns cleaner but releases carbon into the air.
Conditions such as emphysema and asthma are sensitive to the nitrous oxide levels in the atmosphere. If you have plans on having a family or friends get-together soon, keep an eye on your BBQ. Don’t let it overheat, and don’t let it burn out. Be mindful of how much fuel you use to reduce the number of pollutants being released into the atmosphere.
Charcoal And Gas BBQs Are Just Part of The Problem
These devices aren’t new, and they’re sure to be used for many years to come. When you consider that charcoal and gas smokers have been around for decades, it’s easy to see why some people believe these appliances are cleaner than their counterparts.
While these products do emit greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, there are better ways that you can use these tools without risking your health. When you buy a charcoal grill lid, an accessory that can help reduce emissions, you’ll also reduce the fuel required to get the job done.
How Do I Know If My BBQ Is Harming the Environment?
Looking at the fuel gauge, you can quickly tell how much carbon your BBQ emits. It will tell you how much gas is emitted from the grill and how much carbon is released into the atmosphere when the unit is active.
Most gas grills are designed to use specific fuel types, meaning they only burn a particular fuel. If you plan on using charcoal as a replacement, you’ll have to check with your manufacturer to see what power they’re meant to use.
Charcoal and gas grills are essential tools for many backyard cooks, but they’re not suitable for everyone. When you use either type of grill, look at your hood or lid, that can help reduce the number of emissions your cook-up emits.
It’s also important to remember that although these products are responsible for a lot of the carbon in the atmosphere, there are other sources of pollution.
Manage Your Environmental Concerns With Good Cooking Habits
The Modern BBQ cookbook for gas and charcoal grills: Simple and Vibrant barbecue recipes to enjoy with the Whole Family by the Fire Kindle Edition
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