Got a gas smoker or grill?
A grill with a bed of lava harkens back to days of old. In the 1950’s, the majority of grills, and fire pits, featured the porous lava rocks. It turns out, those lava rocks did more than just look cool. What they were really doing, while looking cool, is staying hot. Lava rocks retain the heat emitted by the flame. If you are not fortunate enough to own a vintage lava rock grill, here are some tips on how to use a gas barbecue with lava rocks.
Buy Lava Rocks
Luckily, lava rocks are still in ample supply. Head to your nearest hardware or garden store and buy a bag. The color is not important. What is important is to rinse the rocks before putting them in your grill. This will eliminate an extra dust that has accumulated inside the packaging.
The placement of the rocks is important. Place the rocks, under the cooking grill, as close to the burners as possible. Place the rocks end to end making a single layer of the stones. Do not stack the rocks. Stacking the rocks will create too much heat resistance and have the opposite effect.
After using your barbecue, it is normal for the renderings to fall onto the rocks you place under the grill. You can clean and maintain the rocks for weeks, even months, before replacing. The time between replacement depends on your usage.
Turn your burners to high for 10 minutes immediately after removing your food. This will permit the burners to burn off excess drippings between each cooking. If you use your grill regularly, flip the lava rocks after two weeks of use. Continue to conduct your 10 minute burn off after each meal. When another two weeks has passed, replace the lava rocks with new ones. Yes, how to use a gas barbecue with lava rocks is that easy.
Some people choose to wash the used lava rocks versus discard them. This can be tricky as some type of degreaser is required for cleansing. Since the lava rock is extremely porous, the grease, and the cleanser, becomes lodged in the holes. If the rocks are not rinsed completely, the residue could burn off into your next meal. Consider using a natural degreaser, or cleanser, to eliminate the possibility of a toxic burn off.
Why Use Lava Rocks
There are many reasons to at least give lava rocks a shot for your next grill out. The first reason has already been mentioned, it retains heat. If you have a grill that could use a heat boost this might do the trick. The rocks will hold the heat in and make for a more even heat source.
The best reason to use lava rocks is that it will make your food taste better. The main reason rocks were used is to enhance flavor. The renderings from the cooking food are vaporized when they touch the hot rocks. This vaporized smoke is full of flavor that is transferred into the food. The fact that they required changing, led people to abandon this flavorful grilling method for convenience.