The veritable hoopla surrounding barbecue bristle brushes seems to never end. Every year there’s a new wave of news articles decrying the humble barbecue bristle brush. While there are incidents of injury caused by loose bristles (according to an article published by the CBC in February of 2020: between January 2014 and January 2020, Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Program received 59 reports related to incidents with barbecue brushes), the amount of people who use their bristle brushes without injury far outweigh those that do.
While we feel for those people, we also realize a news story about how well bristle brushes actually work well wouldn’t necessarily be eye-catching news, now would it? Still, almost every day we receive inquiries from customers about bristle brushes like, "Is it still safe to use them?" "If they are dangerous, why are they still being sold?" and, "What kind of brush should I buy instead?" One thing is for sure, you have to clean your grill one way or another.
Let’s dive in and see if we can answer these questions and get you a brush that you can depend on to get the job done (and keeps you safe).
First thing’s first, it is absolutely still safe to use bristle brushes. The risk associated with a bristle brush really only arises if the brush is in poor condition, or is of low quality (and low quality goods are not something we deal with here at Barbecues Galore).
We always say that a bristle brush should be replaced every 6-12 months (preferably after every barbecue season), depending on how often you use your barbecue. This could mean buying a new one every spring at the beginning of grill season, or if you’re a seasoned griller, being observant for when the brush is doing more pushing-grease-around than cleaning-grease-up (around 6 months).
Think of your bristle brush like a toothbrush; whenever it starts to noticeably wear down, you should replace it (in fact, dentists recommend replacing it every 3-4 months, so you don't brush with a worn out toothbrush at all). You wouldn't want to be brushing your teeth with those bristles falling off, right? Why treat your barbecue brush (the tools that CLEANS where you COOK raw food directly) any different?
In 2020, the CSA Group introduced a voluntary national standard for barbecue brushes; the Broil King 65229 Heavy Duty Grill Brush is such a brush we stock here at Barbecues Galore that is compliant with this standard. The attached CSA Group tag reads "Replacement after one year of use is recommended." The tag also advises to examine the brush and cooking surface for loose bristles, all sound advice that we endorse as well. The gist of it is that bristle brushes are not inherently dangerous, and this is why they’re still being sold.
Bristle brushes continue to be some of our best-selling brush options because they are reliable and exceptional at cleaning all the stuck-on grime and gunk from your grill grates. You can browse our selection of bristled brush options here. Some things you can do if the concept of a loose bristle still gives you the heebie-jeebies is to wipe down your grill grates with oiled paper towel before putting your food on the grill, and feel the bristles on your brush before each cook to see if there are any loose bristles.
If you’re still turned off of bristle brushes or are just looking to try out some alternatives, you’re in luck. We have a comprehensive selection that covers all the bases.
Our Big Boy palmyra brush line-up features bristles made from the fibre of the Borassus, or palmyra palm. These brushes offer a clean similar to that of a bristle brush. The palmyra is strong but soft enough to not scratch your grill grates. The natural fibres also absorb some of the oils from your food, so if you have cast iron grill grates, palmyra is an excellent option. Please note that since palmyra is a wood fibre it can only withstand heat up to 449°F (232°C), because of this we recommend using a palmyra brush only when you first fire up the barbecue and it is still climbing to temp., or after you’ve finished grilling and given the barbecue time to cool down.
Another non-metal, but still bristled, option is our Brander The Animal nylon bristle brush. It utilizes three rows of tough nylon to eliminate all the gunk that accumulates on your grill grates. The nylon bristles are stiff and easy to clean, but can only be used on a cold surface.
One of the most interesting alternatives to the metal bristle brush is still a metal brush. It kind of looks like a bristle brush too, except the metal wire is coiled around the brush’s head instead of being fixed into it as bristles are. Examples of this style include our Brander The Threesome, and Brander V Brush. These brushes are excellent because you still get the guaranteed efficacy of bristles with no risk of losing a bristle. Because there is no pointed edge to the metal on a coil brush, like there is on a bristle brush, these brushes do require you to use a little more force to really make sure you’re getting that desired deep clean.
PadsLastly, for a truly time-tested option, there is always the scrubber, like our Brander Grill Scrubber which features a nylon pad. The pad and ergonomic design work in conjunction to make cleaning a breeze, plus you never have to worry about losing a bristle. Like our nylon bristle brushes, the scrubber works best on a cold grilling surface.
If you’re still undecided about which brush is right for you, don’t hesitate to press that "Chat With Us" button in the bottom right-hand corner of our webpage to speak to one of our barbecue experts. You can also call, or swing by one of our five locations across Canada to speak to one of our barbecue experts. We have two in Alberta; Calgary North and South, and three in Ontario in Oakville, Burlington and Etobicoke.