Converting a gas grill to a charcoal grill is an economical option if your gas grill has stopped working. If your grill is in fair condition and not rusted out, it’s pretty easy to convert your grill to charcoal with only a few tools and supplies. Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to ditch gas and get grilling on some hot, smoky coals.
Step 1: Clean Your Grill
The most common problem with an old grill is rust from sitting outside in the weather, especially if you don’t regularly use a grill cover to protect it. A rusty grate is no big deal because it’s cheap to replace those. You also won’t need any of the gas components, so it doesn’t matter if they’re rusty.
The shell of the grill, however, still needs to retain heat when grilling with charcoal. If there are holes rusted through, it’s a better investment to buy a new grill.
Step 2: Remove Gas Components
Start by making sure the propane tank is turned off and carefully remove it. This will ensure your project runs smoothly and safely!
Next, remove the hose that delivers propane to the venturi tubes (the tubes that produce flames for grilling). Working right along, remove the venturi tubes and the lead pipes from the inner body of the grill. There should be screws holding the venturi tubes and burners in place. Now, your gas grill should look very empty.
Step 3: Add Steel
You will need a sheet of steel that is at least 18 gauge or thicker. Measure the bottom of your grill so you can cut the steel to size. It may be helpful to cut your steel a quarter inch smaller on all sides to ensure it will fit the first time, with no additional cuts. You can cut your steel with a jigsaw or similar tool if your steel isn’t too thick.
When you purchase your sheet of steel, your local hardware store may be able to cut the steel to size for you, so take your measurements with you. Attach the metal to the bottom of the grill with a few sheet metal screws on each side. This will prevent any coals from falling through the bottom.
Step 4: Prep for Grilling!
Next, all you need to do is add charcoal and light it with a safety match and lighter fluid or a charcoal chimney starter. Replace the grill grate when you’re ready to get cooking. As an option to help your charcoal burn better, you could also add a charcoal grate to the bottom that holds the charcoal up slightly. This helps the airflow that will fuel your burning charcoal.
Accessories for Working Gas Grills
Perhaps your gas grill works just fine. But for this cook, you want to infuse the smoky flavors that only charcoal and wood chips can produce. If you don’t smoke or charcoal grill often, purchasing a whole new grill setup can be an expense. Luckily, there are gas grill accessories that let you get that delicious smoky flavor without all the mess of charcoal.
A smoke box is an affordable accessory that can be used in both gas grills and charcoal grills. It’s a heavy-duty metal box with a hinged lid and holes cut into the top and sides. The smoke box can be filled with wood chips, wood pellets, or even sawdust.
For gas grills, the box is then placed across the burners, underneath the grill grate. With charcoal, it’s placed directly onto the coals. Your food will get the best smoke infusion when placed above the smoke box. Wood chips can be soaked in water for a while when you expect a long cooking time.
A smoke box is a good option, but it can be difficult to get a nice sear when using one. A charwood tray is a gas grill accessory that lets you achieve high heat and a tasty smoky flavor when cooking meats and veggies. The tray is placed directly onto a gas grill’s burners. The grates are returned to the grill, and the specialized charwood is sprinkled onto the tray. The more charwood that is used, the hotter your temperature will be.
To light the charwood, you simply use the ignitor and burners on your gas grill. In a few minutes, you’re ready to sear a steak and infuse all the lovely flavors that charcoal grilling is known for. The amount of charwood that is needed per cook is very minimal compared to charcoal. Therefore, clean-up is easier.
Remember, never leave a charcoal grill unattended while the coals are hot. We hope these suggestions help you have a delicious grilling season!