Is It Safe To Cook On A Campground Grill?


Nothing is better than sitting around a campfire with friends and family, and cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner outdoors. Most campsites come with either built in metal bbq’s or a fire pit that has a metal bbq grate on one side. I have always brought my own bbq, or relied on a friend or family member to bring one because I always thought that using the one provided at the campsite would give me some sort of illness. It wasn’t until one of my friends cooked his whole dinner over the fire pit one night that I decided to do some research on it to see if it was actually safe.

Is it safe to cook on a campground grill? Cooking over a campfire grill or built in bbq pit at a campground is actually very safe to do as long as you take some precautions. You will always want to clean your grill as much as possible with a wire brush, or scrubbing sponge, and clean out any old ashes before putting anything in to start the fire. It is extremely important to only use safe materials to start and keep the fire lit, so that you do not contaminate the food that you are cooking on. Always follow campground instructions when starting a fire in your campground, so that you stay out of trouble.

How Should I Start The Fire?

It is really important that when you want to build the fire, that you only use things like paper or lighter fluid to start your grill. Never use things like gas, diesel, or any other accelerant to light the fire. Using other accelerants could harm the environment, and could also make the fire explode causing serious injury. Using only recommended accelerants will also ensure that do not expose your food to any chemicals that might make you seriously ill, or worse. A good rule of thumb is to only use things that you would normally use to light a briquette bbq with.

How Do I Clean It?

Cleaning your campsite grill or fire pit should be pretty easy, and only takes a few minutes to do. You can use a wire grill brush clean off any old food particles that might be on there, as well as a scrubbing pad with water to get it clean. Never use soapy water as it will stay on there and will cook into your foods which could give you stomach issues. It is also important to clean out any old ashes that someone might have left in the grill. You can use a shovel or broom to get out the old ashes. You can even use things like plastic lids, or cardboard to scoop out any old ashes. Make sure that if you had previously had a fire, you make sure that there are no hot coals, or you could burn yourself in the cleaning process.

How Hot Should The Fire Be?

When you are cooking over a fire pit or open grill, you want to make sure that you do not cook anything with a roaring fire. A good rule of thumb is to keep your fire like you would normal briquette grills with a nice orange glow. If you have never used a grill like this, just wait for your flames to burn down to an inch or so high, and make sure there is a nice heat coming off of it, and that you can see orange. If you have to much fire, the fat from your meat might spark even more flames which will cause you to burn the outside of your food and having it be raw in the middle. If you see flames jumping up, you can move the meat from one side of the grill to the other, or if your grill is full, put a little bit of water on the flames. Watch out for flare-ups if you are cooking meat, as water does not help with grease fires.

Do I Have To Use Charcoal?

Charcoal briquettes are the best thing to use in a camp grill, but if you don’t have any of those, you can use wood. If you have to use wood or prefer to use it, at least make sure that any moss or bark is burned off, and you are cooking only on wood. Make sure there is no plastic or string wrapped around the wood, and try to make it as clean as possible. While you might need to use leaves and pine needles to start your fire, it is a good idea to let those burn off before sticking any meat or veggies on it. Just treat your camp grill like you would treat the one at your house, and you should be fine.

Will Stuff Stick To It?

Unlike nonstick pans, your camp grill will most likely not be coated with a nonstick coating. This means that if you put things like chicken or fish on your grill, you could have a high chance of ruining your meat. There are a couple of options for you though that will really help. The first is to use some cooking oil, and you can put some on a napkin and rub it on the grill lightly. Adding too much will cause it to catch fire, and will burn off. You can also spray your food or the grill with PAM or cooking spray, but do not spray it while there is a fire or you will end up with a blow torch. You can also wrap your meat with tin foil and cook it in, or on that. This is generally the safest way to save your food. Adding a thin layer of foil will help keep your meat from sticking and getting singed by fire.

Can I Use A Pan Or Pot?

There may be times where you want to cook things like bacon or eggs, and cannot put your food directly on the grill. It is very safe to use a pot or pan on a grill as long as there are no flames around. Most pots and pans have a plastic handle to keep the heat from burning your hands, so it is important you get your fire to the correct temperature before you set anything on it. Try to point your pot or pan handles to the outside of the fire, and always use a towel or oven mitt to pick up the pan when your food is done, or you could burn yourself. The best pan to use over an open flame like this is a cast-iron skillet. This is because they do not have any plastic and are designed to be sturdy in a fire. Always use a towel to move your skillet because the handle is metal as well. Never point the handle of anything towards the flame or heat, and you will be just fine.

Is It Safe To Cook Canned Food Over A Fire?

If you do not have any pots or pans available, you can cook your canned foods inside of the can they came in. First, you must make sure you open the lid so that the heat can escape and it will not blow up. Second, you must remove all the paper wrapping and glue, or you could get ash in your food or glue all over the grill. Never grab a can right off the grill, always use some sort of towel or potholder. Make sure that the fire has died down enough to not engulf you can in flames, or whatever you are cooking in the can could burn. This is also important because you are going to have to stir whatever is in the can so it cooks all the way through. Never leave a utensil in the can while you are cooking anything because it can absorb the heat and burn you.

Final Thoughts

Cooking over a camp grill, or fire pit is actually pretty fun and is very safe if you clean everything before you use it. Never expect the people camping before you have cleaned anything. Always let the fire burn off anything that you could not clean, especially underneath the grill surface before you put your food on to cook. We are cooking over a semi contained fire, so it is important to take any precaution you normally would at your home so that you do not burn yourself. Use common sense, and treat this grill like you would treat anything in your house or camper, and you should have no problem cooking your meal with great results.

Terry Minton

I am the owner of Fast Cast Rods. I live in the mountains of Northern California where I love to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with my wife and three awesome kids.

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