Why is My Grill Rusting?

While cleaning your grill, you might notice some rusting and think about what causes them. Grills are constantly exposed to harsh conditions which include heat, rain, and snow. All of these factors contribute to the corrosion and spots on your grill. What about stainless steel suggests that claims be rust-free? Are they still vulnerable to destruction? We will discuss all of these questions below.

Why is my grill rusting? Among the reasons why a barbeque grill is rusting include high temperatures, moisture, and grease splatters while cooking. Take note that unprotected iron will rust when exposed to the air. How fast it will rust usually depends on the amount and level of heat and moisture that it is exposed to. As the heat increases, the oxidation rate also increases. Moreover, moisture in the air and moisture in the food as it cooks can cause the grill to rust more. This is why outdoor grills that are constantly exposed to the elements are prone to rust.

What causes rust on the BBQ grill? How do you prevent grills from rusting? Can you fix a rusty grill? If you are dealing with rust on your grill, you can check out the rest of this article to learn about the causes of grill rusting and the steps to take to prevent it. We have shared helpful tips and information.

What is BBQ Grill Rust?

When iron particles of the steel are exposed to moisture and oxygen, reddish-brown corrosion forms which are also known as BBQ grill rust. The rust will shorten the lifespan of your grill because it peels off layer by layer.

Why Does BBQ Grill Rust?

Food residue, chemicals, snow melting solutions, and saltwater are some of the factors that cause rust on the BBQ grill. Outdoor BBQ grills are exposed to different weather conditions that can cause rusting which leads to damages. Below is detailed information about each factor.


If you have a pool, the cleaning chemicals that you are using like chlorine and bromine, are corrosive and can cause your grill to rust. This is because the chemicals turn to vapor and can find their way into the grill through the air. It can damage even high-quality grills. Furthermore, chemicals in fertilizers and pesticides can cause your grill to rust.

Food Residue

Another reason why your grill rusts are because of food residue. While grilling, a lot of food particles can get stuck in your grill. Take note that BBQ marinades and sauces are acidic and can cause your grill to rust. This is why you must clean your grill after you cook.


Saltwater also causes the grill to rust. This is because salt causes corrosion to metal. It can be a problem if you live near the ocean. The salt and humidity air can cause the grill to corrode. To avoid this, you can apply oil or wax to the surfaces of the grill. Make sure to reapply every time you clean the grill.

Snow and Snow Melting Solutions

Outdoor grills that are exposed to the snow can rust. Moreover, using chemical agents to melt ice can increase the chances of rusting. Do not use any chemicals when removing ice from the snow. Instead, you can use the heat from the grill to melt the ice.

What are the Factors that Causes Stainless Steel Grills to Rust?

Weather, high heat, superficial rust, and insufficient chromium concentration are some of the factors that cause stainless steel grills to rust. Stainless steel is less prone to rusting as compared to regular steel, but they still do rust. Chromium makes up 12 to 30% of the stainless steel which makes it rust-resistant. While chromium is more reactive than iron, it does not cause an adverse reaction.

High Heat

The carbon and chromium in the stainless steel bond together as the temperature of stainless steel reach the 750-1550°F range. As a result, it reduces the percentage of chromium molecules in the steel which causes the stainless steel to lose its rust resistance.


Another factor that causes a stainless steel grill to rust is the weather. The humidity and moisture level in the air, especially in the coastal regions can cause rust spots to appear on the grill. We have also shared this article that discusses if porcelain grill grates rust. You can check out the article and compare the difference between stainless steel and porcelain grills.

Superficial Rust

This refers to the rust that has settled on the external parts of the stainless steel. This can be the result of using utensils or fasteners that are not made of stainless steel. As water runs over the rusted items, it will result in a deposit of rust on the stainless steel. To get rid of superficial rust, you can use a solvent to wipe it off.  Moreover, applying solvent with a soft cloth also prevents rust from getting stuck into the steel. You can also check out this article that discusses what kind of grill does not rust. We have shared an in-depth discussion about the topic.

Inadequate Chromium Concentration

In case the surface of the stainless steel is scratched while you are cleaning it, you will notice spots where small fragments of steel wool are stuck. The chromium concentration level in those spots is less than 12% which fails to protect the stainless steel. To avoid this problem, do not use harsh cleaning tools when cleaning your grill. If your grill is already scratched, make sure to scrub off all the rust and use a solvent to get rid of any rust that remains.

How to Prevent Grills from Rusting

If you notice any signs of rusting on the surface of the grill, you should immediately clean it with a stainless steel cleaner. The quicker that you clean the rust or any stain in your grill, the easier it will be to clean up. Make sure to clean your grill after every use. Do not wait a long time before cleaning your grill because food particles, oil, and grease can get stuck and causes rusting. Below are some tips on how to prevent your grill from rusting.

  • Make sure to keep your grill grates regularly cleaned and oiled.
  • It is best to purchase stainless steel or porcelain-coated cast-iron grates and parts. This is because many cast-iron products are porcelain-coated which is effective in preventing
  • Your grill cover should properly fit your grill. Invest in a grill cover especially if you live closer to the water which provides a higher potential for grills to rust.
  • Any signs of discoloration or rusting on the grill should be cleaned and removed immediately.

We have also shared this article titled, should you clean the grill after every use? We have shared tips and information on how to clean your grill to prevent it from rusting and other possible damages.

✅ Video – Keep Rust Out of Your Grill – A Simple Step to Prolong Your Grill’s Life

Cooking With Ry shared the video below on YouTube. It discusses how to keep rust out of your grill. In the video, Ry has shared tips on how to keep the grill free of rust. Check out the video for more tips ad information.

Is it OK to Cook on a Rusty Grill?

It is not recommended that you cook on a rusty grill because the rust can stick to the food. If your grate has minor surface rust, have it cleaned before using. Ingesting a small amount of rust may not likely cause harm, but continuous ingestion can cause problems for the intestinal tract. According to the USDA, you should always clean all rust from the grill because rust is not a food-safe material.

Can You Fix a Rusty Grill?

Fixing a rusty grill is possible, but it depends on the amount of rust that it has. For minimal rusting, cleaning is relatively easy. A simple method that you can do is to use a non-toxic household item. Try using baking soda and vinegar for a natural approach. On the other hand, prevention is always better than cure. Make sure that you properly clean your grill after every use to avoid rusting. You can also check out this article that we have shared that discusses why vinegar removes rust. We have shared useful tips that you follow when cleaning your grill.

How to Maintain a BBQ Grill

Below are some tips that you can follow to maintain a clean and rust-free BBQ grill. Rust on the grill looks unappetizing and can also affect the taste of your food. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid them.

  • Avoid pouring sauces on the meat while it is still on the grill. Take note that excess sauces can drip to the burners which can clog and erode them with salts.
  • Keep moisture away by covering your grill once it has cooled.
  • Never turn the flames on a high setting to clean or burn off food from the flame tamers and cooking grates. This will not do any good and will only stress and oxidize the metal and damage it.
  • Do not power wash the inside of the barbecue grill. Bear in mind that the grill has vulnerable parts that can get damaged when power washed.


You have reached the end of this post that discusses the reasons why a grill is rusting. No matter what type of grill you have, it is considered an investment and is expected to last for many years. To make sure that your grill will serve you for a long time, you need to take good care of it. We have shared several methods that will help you protect your grill from rust. Make sure to constantly clean and check your grill for any signs of rusting. Thank you for reading!

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