Grill Mats: Are They Dangerous?
What Are Grill Mats?
Grill mats are thin sheets made from heat-resistant materials that is placed on top of a grill to provide a cooking surface. This is used in frying food over a grill and known to have a non-stick variety. This is also used to prevent drips from food that has produce juices or has been submerged or lathered by marinade. Quality grill mats can withstand the heat of up to 500 degrees and varies in thickness.
Grill mats comes in black color to make it more visually appealing and removes the feel of being gender specific. This is popular among grillers or cooks who like to cook outdoors especially if they are using a communal grill. Grill mats provide a clean cooking and grilling area.
Although it functions nicely in catching drips, it might hinder the food from getting those the grill marks that most purist like to achieve. However, the mat can prevent flare-ups and helps in maintaining the moisture of any cook food. Aside from being a grill, it has variety of other uses. You can use it as liners for vegetables and use it on top of other cooking surfaces like stoves, ovens and pans. Grill mats are bought in multi-packs.
Grill Mat Characteristics
Grillers and cooks consider a general rule when choosing grill mats in cooking. It is important to know the ideal characteristic of grill mat to ensure the durability and quality of grill mats. Failure to assure these aspects may ruin the food and waste a lot of money in the process.
Thick grill mats make in hard for the heat to reach the food thus it will take a longer time to cook it. Too thin grill mats may burn your food in a small amount of time. Professionals and experts recommend 0.2mm – 0.3mm thick grill mats as it does last much longer. The heat will be distributed evenly and makes cooking much faster and easier.
Grill mats are made of thin metal therefore you can cut it to your desired size according to your needs.
Modern grill mats are now made from PTFE materials or fiberglass. PTFE is popular among non-stick varieties which prevents food from sticking on the grill.
Why We Need It?
Grill mats is easy to clean up with soap and water. It is convenient to use either in the kitchen or even outdoors especially if you are using communal grilling stations. It can cook anything from grilling to flying. It works as a conventional frying pan.
Since the conception of non-stick grill mats, cooks have used little to no oil while cooking so the food you make is healthier. In addition, the juiced and sauces are prevented to drip off so the food retains all the flavor without sacrificing the grill marks. Other grill mat user claim that the food cooks much faster in grilling mats than without it.
How To Use It?
- After you turn on your grill, place the mat over the grate. Non-stick varieties be placed at least a few inches above the heat source. If placed directly in flames, PTFE coating will disintegrate. You can add more mats if you want to cover larger grills.
- Do not lay another mat on top of the other mat. Do not worry about which side is the correct as grill mats are reversible.
- After the mat is put into place and heated nicely, you can now cook on the mat naturally.
- If your are using the non-stick variety, avoid using metal utensils. They may scratch your mat and damage it.
- When you are finished, you can remove it from the grill and wash it with soap and water. You can also out it in a dishwasher but place it on the top rack only. Do not use any abrasive cleaners. They can damage the PTFE coating.
Are Grill Mats Dangerous?
Manufacturers are learning of new ways to make grilling fun and efficient for cooks all around the world. Food sticking on the mats is one of the problems addressed by manufacturing non-stick grill mats. However, there is much speculation over the safety of PTFE or polytetrafluoroethylene – a compound which is used to make mats and frying pans non-stick. This chemical is non-resistant to almost anything from water to harsh chemicals and even solvents. The only threat to this is it is not resistant to heat above 500°F.
PTFE will only pass out from the body after it is ingested. But if it is heated above 500°F, it will produce a toxic gas that can cause respiratory syndrome such as “Telfon Flu” and sometimes even death. Furthermore, the toxic chemicals that are emitted from an overheated PTFE belongs to the family of chemicals that are known to cause rising levels of cholesterol, abnormal weight and size of newborn babies, irregular thyroid levels, inflammation of the liver and weaken the immune system. An overheated pan with PTFE has claimed to kill a bird after inhaling the toxic gas. Therefore, grill mats have the potential of being a dangerous for use.
So, are grill mats safe? Any kitchen equipment can be safe when it is used and stored properly. PTFE is dangerous when it is used improperly. Improper use includes using metal utensils to scrape out food from the grill mat. Metal utensils can scrape up the PTFE coating and be mixed with the food. To prevent this, use a silicone spatula. Do not overheat your grill mats especially if it exceeds 500°F. Grill mats are safe to use but ONLY if you use it right.
If you are still unconvinced, but still opted to use a grill mat, you can also try a silicone mat. Silicone mats offers the same advantages and functions as grill mats. They are made to be reusable, durable, and very easy to clean and store. The only difference is, it is made of flexible non-stick silicon.
In every convenience, there is always a risk. We can prevent these risk by taking the necessary precautions and follow the procedures properly.