How To Decide On A Natural Gas Grill Or Charcoal Grill by Mary Hanna

The question is do you use a Natural Gas Grill or a Charcoal Grill for your next barbeque. The great American Barbecue is a wonderful way to bring family and friends together on a pleasant sunny afternoon for good eats and good company. Just for fun, there are six ways to spell BBQ in the English Language; all six have been used here-see if you can spot them all and how many times we used them.
As you know there are BBQ purists that think sizzling up a few steaks on a grill is not real unless it is done on a charcoal grill. Then there are those that feel their sizzled steaks or burgers are just as good if not better on a red hot Natural Gas grill. Over the years there have been many heated debates about which grill is better, Natural Gas or charcoal. Some of the differences affect the length of cooking time, taste of the food being cooked and how to clean up the mess afterward. The bottom line is that the differences between the grills are safety, flavor, cost and convenience. Here we will concentrate on Charcoal and Natural Gas grills. If you want to learn more about Smoker grills go to

The number one and biggest difference between a Charcoal and a Natural Gas Barbeque Grill is a biggie, and that is the cost. The Charcoal Grill will be your most inexpensive grill by far. You can purchase one of these grills for as little as thirty dollars if you look to a small Hibachi type model, which is perfect for someone with no backyard or very limited space. Of course, with all consumer goods, charcoal grills can be found upwards of $400.00 but that is for the very serious aficionado of charcoal grilling. A middle ground price for a Charcoal Grill will run about $75.00-$125.00 and are considered a good quality for the money with lasting ability.

Now Natural Gas barbecues are another whole ball of wax. You can spend upwards of $14,000.00 on an ~all the bells and whistles~ Natural Gas grill. No, that is not the norm. From your Home Improvement store you can find a very functional Natural Gas Grill for about three hundred dollars that will last for some time. This will depend on how it is treated. If it is out in the elements get a cover, if you live in a very humid area, rust will eventually get it so you may want to spend a little more money more to combat that factor. The cost of Natural Gas Bar-BQ grills will go up with each feature added. Natural Gas Grills come with huge grates sizes, four or five burners, side tables and/or burners, warmer ovens, even small refrigerators. The more down to earth models which can be very good quality will range from $400.00 to $1,500.00. These will have some of the better features like side burners but certainly not a refrigerator. According to the care you provide they can last from 12 to 15 years.

The next issue to address is the size of the grill you will need for your cooking efforts. If you are only using it for small parties or for the family on weekends, you don’t have to go all out and buy a grill that will Bar-B-Que twenty pounds of meat and potatoes at one time. It is possible to find a good grill to fit your grilling style at a very good price.

Convenience, for some is the most important aspect of the entire grilling world. And, for the ultimate in convenience, the Natural Gas Grill tops the Charcoal Grill by far. Natural Gas Grills have push button starters for an instant fire (you still have to heat it up). You can grill for much longer periods of times without having to replenish the fuel. The ability to raise and lower the heat gives you the option of controlling the temperature of the foods being grilled. You will never have to worry about the wind since the heating comes from below and they heat more evenly over the surface grates. Clean up is virtually a snap since it only requires you to heat the grates and scrape with a wire brush. The one disadvantage is if you run out of gas. If you do not have an extra tank your grill will cool quickly and the Bar-BQ will be a disaster.

These are things you should think about when deciding which BBQ you will purchase. With all of the conveniences mentioned above for Natural Gas Grills. Charcoal grills have a few deficits. It will take at least 30 minutes to heat the charcoal to the required temperature. The ash residue left by the charcoal will have to be cleaned out and thrown away. You do not have the option of burning off the leftover bits of meat left on the grate so you will have to clean it yourself with a bit of good old fashion elbow grease. And because you do not have the ability to regulate the temperature, you will have to rotate the food to find hot spots and then to cold spots for proper and thorough cooking.

For some, this little bit of extra work is acceptable in order to get that genuine Barbeque flavor for their steaks on a grill, burgers or ribs that they swear Natural Gas Grills don’t provide. Charcoal Grills simply do not have the ease of Natural Gas Grills when cooking a Bar-B-Que, but for serious BBQ artists it’s the ritual that counts. When you are thinking of buying a new Barbecue, think of how you want to do your cookouts. If you love to come home from work and throw something on the ~Barbie~, for a quick meal then Natural Gas Grill is the grill for you. However, if you only Bar-BQ on the weekends and you love the procedures of the real cookout experience buy a quality Charcoal Grill. There is really nothing about Charcoal Grills that is more convenient than with Natural Gas grills, but convenience is not everything and many people argue that the ritual associated with charcoal grills is simply part of having a Barbeque.

The last thing to consider and this is a big one, is safety. There are many schools of thoughts on this aspect. Some say that more accidents happen with Charcoal Grills but more serious accidents happen with Natural Gas Grills. Consider these factors and use them in your judgment as to whether you will buy a Natural Gas Grill or a Charcoal Grill. Charcoal Grills being so much lighter then the Gas Grills it is easier to tip them over. Using starter fluid is always dangerous and this is where most injuries occur with Charcoal Grills. Never, ever use starter fluid on the charcoal after the coals have been lit, you risk burning yourself and your food will taste like starter fluid and not barbeque. There is a greater risk of a flare up with charcoal but that by no means says it will not happen with Natural Gas Grills. Common sense tells you that you should keep both of them away from structures that can ignite. For the greatest safety when using a Charcoal Grill verses a Natural Gas Grill is to buy pre-soaked briquettes which need no starter fluid at all.

With a Natural Gas Grill you will not have to use starter fluid but you must be very attentive to the manufactures instructions. Little things like leaving the gas on too long before you hit the ignition button could be very dangerous. Heed the manufactures requirements for maintenance especially for hoses and the gas container, for leaks.

Safety is the utmost priority when it comes to all grills. Don’t drink and barbecue, wait until after the cooking to imbibe. Watch the children when the grills are lit, keep them far way from the hot grills. By just using a little common sense you should prevent all accidents from happening whether you have a Natural Gas Grill or a Charcoal Grill.

Last but not least, is the forever debate about flavor and this should be one of your considerations when buying a grill. Many BBQ chefs swear by the smoky flavor of the Charcoal Grill when cooking their steaks on a grill and would cook on none other. But on the other side of the coin many gas grillers say that there is no difference. There is a little truth in both of their statements. There was a blind study done where people where asked to taste two hamburgers, one from the Natural Gas Grill and one from the Charcoal Grill. None of them tasted a difference in the hamburgers but when it came to steaks on a grill, the juicy, smoky flavor from the Charcoal Grill won every time. To combat this, some manufactures of Natural Gas Grills have added flavor bars made out of ceramic to give the meat a more genuine BBQ flavor. The theory is that the bars catch the fat dripping from the meat and vaporizes it giving off a more smoky taste.

All of this information will by no means end the debate. If you can, buy a Natural Gas Grill and a Charcoal Grill giving you both options for your Bar-B-Que. If you purchase a small Charcoal Grill it will be portable to take on vacations or to a neighbor’s house for overflow cooking. Whether you buy a Natural Gas Grill or a Charcoal Grill we wish you a happy Bar-BQ in your backyard or on your next picnic. For answers to the spelling of Barbeque and how many and different ways we used it, email us at

Copyright © Mary Hanna, All Rights Reserved.

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About the Author

Mary Hanna grows produce year round in Central Florida where she developed an appreciation of how Gas and Charcoal Grilling preserved their natural flavors and nutrients. Learn from her at , and

Labor Day Barbecuing

grillGet ready for your Labor Day barbecuing with a brand new grill!

Charcoal or Gas grill?

Statistically, 81% of all U.S. households own a barbeque grill. Slightly more than half of those are gas grills while about 47% are charcoal. Either will do the job, however the debate about which is best rages on. Some people say that the smoky flavor of charcoal enhances the taste of the food, plus charcoal grills have almost no mechanical parts. Charcoal briquets, lighter fluid and a little patience (while the coals heat up) are just part of the grilling experience. Others say that gas is the only way to go because you can begin cooking within a few minutes of turning on your grill. Ask friends and neighbors about their preference then chose which style fits your lifestyle. Let’s break it down just a little more.

    Charcoal – These grills are traditionally round or oval shaped, and are made of coated steel to prevent rust. Some also come with side trays and wheels so they can easily be moved. The charcoal sits on a grate rack inside of the bowl. The actual cooking grate sits above the charcoal. Lighter fluid is the most common way to start the charcoal grill, however you can also use a “chimney” starter that uses newspaper. Once the fire is lit the coals should be ready in about 15 minutes. Make sure the coals are evenly distributed to achieve even heating throughout the grill surface.
    Gas – Gas grills use either LP (liquid propane) or Natural gas. They are specifically manufactured to use just one of these types of fuel, although some gas grills can be converted. Make sure you specify the fuel type when ordering. Gas grills are generally more expensive than charcoal grills because of the design and use of mechanical parts. The most popular materials are cast aluminum and stainless steel because they keep the flow of hot air inside your grill. This is called convection. You may also hear the term “double walled,” which means that the hood is made of two pieces of steel or aluminum with a small air gap in between. Good stainless steel grills will often be made of heavy gauge #304 stainless steel, which retains heat and will not corrode. Gas grills generally come with a stand or cart and most have wheels. Finally, some gas grills are made to fit into a permanent frame or counter top space, called a built-in. They are popular with outdoor kitchens and patios and have the same cooking performance as grills you see on carts or pedestals.

Since Labor Day is soon, here is the history…

Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

“Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country,” said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. “All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day…is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation.”

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.