If you’re looking to use ceramic briquettes in your gas or charcoal grill, you might ask yourself, “How long do ceramic briquettes last?” On average, briquettes can last for a few months up to five years. The lifespan will depend on how often you use them and the type of ceramic that comprises the briquettes.
Having said that, the manufacturer should indicate the amount of time you can expect them to last in the instruction manual. But, even then, it will impinge on how well you maintain and clean them on a regular basis.
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How Long Do Ceramic Briquettes Last? Do Materials Matter?
It’s important to understand that ceramic is a generic term for any material that’s non-metallic and inorganic. Water mixes with fine silts, sands and powders from things such as:
- Earthen (these include minerals like iron or lead)
- Porcelain (fine silts from minerals like kaolinite and quartz to produce a white color)
- Stone (cement and mudrock)
- Clays (fuller’s earth, kaolin, Spanish moss, bentonite and rhassoul)
- Aluminum Oxide
- Beach Sand
- Carbon Fiber
Once formed into a moist, wet blob, they undergo shaping and molding. Then, they fire in a kiln for several hours. This process is what allows them to withstand temperatures between 1,800°F to 3,000°F (1,000°C to 1,600°C). This heating makes them hard but strongly compressed yet brittle and weak in tension.
Composition Determines Lifespan
The combination of materials and baking means there’s a wide range and breadth of structures and compositions it can take. All of this translates to how long they will last in your grill, regardless of it being gas-powered or charcoal. The only way to know in definite terms is by what the manufacturer lists.
In general, however, pure earthware and stoneware types will be more durable than composites made of things like sand, fiberglass and carbon fiber. When shopping around for ceramic briquettes, make sure they list what materials comprise their product.
However, your cleaning and maintenance of the ceramic briquettes will be what ensures the longest lifespan possible. Since they tend to be on the pricier side of things, this will be imperative to ensuring they last a long time.
Neglecting the Briquettes
In the event you never touch them once installed into the grill, don’t expect them to last very long. Even if they comprise some of the most solid materials cast into ceramic, they won’t last but more than a year.
When you go to use them again, grease can flare up, which can cause the briquettes to explode before their natural expiration date. This is due to the immense heat fueled specifically by the grease riddling the surface.
Grease & Food Drippings
Also, grease and other food drippings will crust onto the surface of the ceramic briquettes. This inevitable adhesion will get into the pores, which will increase brittleness and weakness. Eventually, these areas will chip, break and crack.
Dust & Ash Potential
If left unattended, these nicks can produce dust and ash that will go into your food. Therefore, once you notice a staunch buildup of black marks, charring and food stains, it will be imperative you clean these off before using the grill again. Of course, you should always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for suggestions.
Basic Cleaning Regimen for Ceramic Briquettes
But, the most common way is to wait until the ceramic briquettes are totally cool and wipe them down with a paper towel. Then, use a wire brush to scrub the surface. If you find there’s still stuck-on stubborn stains, you can turn the briquettes upside down toward the heat of the grill, turn it on and close the lid.
However, if you’re using a charcoal grill, then you can let the briquettes soak in baking soda and vinegar with hot water. Let them rest for about 20 minutes and attempt to get the stuck-on stains with the wire brush. But, use a gentle touch and make sure you allow the briquettes to fully dry before using them.
As a last ditch attempt, you can use warm water and dish soap to try and remove deep down grease stains. Just soak the briquettes for a few minutes and used gloved fingers to try and rub it away. Ensure you rinse the briquettes well and allow them to fully dry.
Notes of Caution
Avoid using harsh cleansers, abrasive scrubs or sharp tools on the surface of the ceramics. While they are tough, they are also very brittle. So, you can break them unintentionally even if you are extremely careful about it. Also, reduce the amount of water exposure they receive as it can erode the briquettes, thereby making them dissolve and brittle.
Knowing When Ceramic Briquettes Need Replacing
Aside from the materials and maintenance aspect of ceramic briquettes, there will be signs indicating that it’s time to replace them. Your first clue will be if you know you’ve had them for quite some time and they aren’t performing as they did.
Cracks & Breaks
There will be other things too like like hearing an explosion after heating that results in cracks and breaks. Dust emissions from the briquettes themselves will also appear. This can be from breakage but it can also be due to age.
Funny Smells & Grease Flares
You’ll also know it’s replacement time when funny and foul smells emanate from food that won’t clean off. What’s more, if you clean off the briquettes and grease continues to flare, this means food stains are deep within the pores. You will not be able to get them out no matter what you do.
Ceramic briquettes can last as long as five years with the right type and how meticulous you are in their care. Otherwise, they may only last a few months. But staying on top of their maintenance will not only guarantee delicious, eco-friendly food but they will also stay in good working order for many years.