Can you cook on a rusty grill?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you cook on a rusty grill” with an in-depth analysis of the issues related to cooking on a rusty grill. Moreover, we are going to highlight how rust is formed, what are the safety concerns with consuming rust, and how you can clean and prevent the formation of rust on the grill.

Can you cook on a rusty grill?

Yes, you can cook on a rusty grill as it may not pose any harmful risk. The major issue with the rusty grill is the formation of iron oxide that is not considered harmful to human health. But still, it is not recommended to cook or grill your food on a rusty grill as it can alter the flavor of your food and make it unpleasant for consumption.

The rust can also become loose on heating and attach to your food and the attached particles give your food an unpleasant texture. Therefore, one should not cook on a rusty grill instead, thoroughly clean the grill before placing them on the grill.

Formation of rust:

The chemical composition of rust formed on the metallic surfaces is iron oxide. Most metallic utensils or cooking apparatuses contain small or large amounts of iron in their chemical composition. This iron, when exposed to the moisture content or air, reacts with the oxygen present in moisture or air and results in the formation of iron oxide, rust.

Safety concerns:

Iron oxide is not very toxic and unhealthy if ingested in small amounts. But if you use your grill or rusty utensils on a daily basis, you may have a risk of consuming too much iron oxide that can cause some severe symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Further, excessive intake can also damage your normal circulatory system as the excessive iron accumulates in your bloodstream and blocks the normal passage of the blood. In young children, iron poisoning can lead to the problem of excessive weight loss. Therefore, one should clean the rusty grill or other utensils before placing food in them.

Some people link tetanus with rust consumption, which is not true. Tetanus is mainly caused by a bacterium, Clostridium tetanus, that is present in dust, manure, or soil. Sometimes, handling with the rusty grill or utensil can cause the rust to be trapped in your nails and these sharp iron particles can scratch the skin thus, providing a source of entry to the bacterium.

Cleaning of rusty grills:

The rust on the grill can be cooked in various ways. Some of these are listed below.

With baking soda:

Baking soda is a natural cleaner that can remove the grease and grime from the grill. Before applying the soda on the grill, you should remove the rust with the help of a brush. You can also heat the grill before using a brush as heating can loosen the rust. After brushing, sprinkle the baking soda on the grill and place it on heat.

The heating will cause the baking soda to form bubbles, once the bubbling is stopped, turn off the heat and leave the grill to become cool. Again, use a soft brush to mix the soda with the rust on the grill and clean the baking soda and rust by simply rinsing with water or wiping with a cloth.

With vinegar and salt:

You can also use vinegar to remove the rust as it is also a commonly used cleaning agent. For this, take a spray bottle and add 2 parts vinegar and 1 part salt in it. Mix the two components by shaking the spray bottles. Spray the solution on the grill and cover it in a plastic bag overnight. Wipe the rust and vinegar solution with an old cloth after soaking it in the solution overnight.

With a wire brush:

Another quick way to remove the rust from a grill is through the use of a wire brush. For this, you just need to brush the grill or grate with a wire brush and then wipe or rinse the loose rust.

  • Some of the other methods may include:
  • Applying fat, heating, scrubbing or brushing, and then wiping or rinsing.
  • Using sandpaper to rub the rust on the surface of the grill and then wipe or rinse it.
  • Using a solution of citric acid or lemon and salt on the grill, brushing it, and then wiping or rinsing.
  • Using commercial rust removers, that are also non-toxic.

Preventing rust formation on the grill:

The best way to avoid any problem is to prevent rust formation that can be done by following some easy tips. For this, you can use a cover to stop the exposure of the grill to moisture, clean the grill after every use, coat the grill with a thin layer of vegetable oil when not in use, and remove immediately any rust on the grill.

You can find the tips that can be followed to clean the rust on the grill here.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you cook on a rusty grill” with an in-depth analysis of the cooking on the grill with rust that can make the end product unpleasant. Moreover, we discussed how rusk can be formed, cleaned, and prevented on the grill and what are some safety concerns related to its formation and consumption.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.