Outdoor grilling is one of the best ways of spending a beautiful summer day. When grilling season comes around each year, there are always new grilling fans who buy their first grill and start cooking.
Using a propane grill for the first time can seem intimidating. Many people have never used propane tanks, and connecting them to a grill might be daunting. A step-by-step guide equips grilling rookies with all the necessary knowledge to succeed in their propane grilling attempts.
The steps for using a propane grill are easy to follow, and you don’t need any prior experience grilling. Here’s everything you need to know, from safety considerations to cleaning and maintaining your propane appliance.
Step 1: Getting Your Propane Tank Ready
Propane is a liquefied gas that comes in metal tanks. You can purchase propane tanks at most large grocery stores or supermarkets. When storing a propane tank, always place the tank in an upright position outdoors. You should never keep a propane tank inside.
Checking the State of the Tank
The first thing you should do before connecting a propane tank to a gas grill is to make sure the tank is in good condition. Look for any signs of external damage like dents or rust. If you notice anything that seems abnormal about a tank, it’s best to exchange it for a new one.
Check the rubber gasket inside the valve as well. The gasket should be perfectly round and in good condition, without any splits or cracks. Sometimes it’s hard to see the gasket inside the tank. Tilt the tank slightly and point the valve towards the sun for better light visibility.
Checking the Amount Of Propane Inside Your Tank
Propane grills have the advantage of being portable and relatively easy to use. However, it’s essential to check how much propane is inside the tank. If you skip this crucial step, you might end up running out of propane during a barbecue.
There’s a simple method that requires no tools. Pour some hot water down the side of the tank, making sure the entire side gets wet. Move your hand from the top of the tank to the bottom by sliding it on the surface. As soon as you feel a cold spot, you know that’s the level of your propane. It’s not a very accurate method, but it can be helpful. Using a pressure gauge is a lot faster and more exact.
Placing the Propane Tank on the Grill
Most grills have a spot right underneath the grilling area to place the propane tank. Some grills simply have an open space where you can secure the tank, while other models are a bit fancier and hide the tank behind a couple of doors. Read your grill’s instructions and secure the tank as the manufacturer indicates.
Placing the tank a couple of feet further away than necessary could put stress on the grill’s connector and cause a gas leak. Also, securing the tank correctly on the grill prevents anyone from kicking or knocking down the tank by accident. Ensure your grill has enough space around it and that it’s at least 10 feet from your home.
Step 2: Connecting a Propane Tank to a Grill
Once you have safely secured the propane tank on the grill, you can connect both of them. You’ll notice a hose on the side of the grill. One end is connected to the grill, while the other has a metal regulator and a black plastic connector.
Connecting the Hose to the Tank
The regulator is a rudimentary but effective device that controls gas flow from the tank into the grill. The black connector is the piece that connects to the valve of the propane tank. Make sure you use the proper threading and make it as tight as possible. Turning the connector clockwise will make it more secure.
Doing a Quick Gas Leak Test
A gas leak on your propane tank’s valve or the grill’s hose presents a dangerous fire hazard. An easy way of making sure the tank or grill isn’t leaking is to perform a quick test with a bit of dishwashing soap and water.
Combine them and put the mixture in a spray bottle. Leave the grill completely off, but open the valve of the tank. Now the gas should start flowing through the hose into the grill. Spray the valve, the connector, and the regulator with soapy water. If you notice any bubbles on the water, there’s a leak, and you should replace either the propane tank, connector, regulator, or the entire hose.
Step 3: Starting the Grill
After the previous steps, starting the grill is easy. If it’s not already open, turn the propane valve counterclockwise to allow gas flow. Turn one of the burners on and turn on the automatic ignition. If this doesn’t work, or your grill doesn’t have an ignition button, do it manually. Put a stick lighter through the hole on the side of the grill and light the burners. Finally, close the lid and let the grill warm up.
Step 4: Get Ready for Grilling
Let the grill heat up to about 400°F. Most modern gas grills have a built-in thermometer that indicates the temperature. Once the grill is hot, use a wire brush to clean the grate and remove the old grease.
Finally, use some tongs and paper towels to oil the grates. You can put any kind of light vegetable oil in a cup and dip the paper towels into it. Oiling the grates prevents food from sticking to them. Now your grill is ready for cooking!
Step 5: Cleaning the Grill
It’s essential to clean the grates every time after you grill. This is a quick process that prevents excess grease build-up. While the grates are still warm, clean them using a brush, a bit of water, and some dishwashing soap. If the grill is completely cool and has a lot of grease stuck on the grates, turn it on and let it heat up for about 15 minutes. Then you can wash the grates with a wire brush and finish cleaning them with a damp cloth.
Time to Start Grilling
Now you’re ready to use a gas grill. All it takes to grill burgers and hotdogs to perfection is a bit of practice. Of course, there are always more techniques and tricks to learn when it comes to grilling. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll be able to step further out of your comfort zone and become a true grill master.