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Barbeque Secret...Don't Use Gas To Start The Fire!

Aug 17, 2007
I've rarely been accused of over thinking a situation. My "code of the west" mentality has been good to me through the years, rescuing me many times from the temptation of unnecessary thinking! Unnecessary thinking can ruin a perfectly good plan, but no thinking at all can be hazardous to your health! A good case in point is a situation I witnessed last year.

One brilliantly blue afternoon in late spring my neighbor Joe was preparing for one of his famous cookouts. He was about to put his brand new brick and mortar barbeque grill through its paces for the first time. A beautiful charcoal grill, he had personally, to the chagrin of the brick masons, supervised every detail of the project. It was a gorgeous fireplace style grill with the chimney almost head high, built of the same brick that adorned his house.

The barbeque pit featured a curved flat black steel hood for enclosed cooking, with a warming tray built into the side of the pit to keep foods from getting cold while others cooked longer. There was even a compartment built on the opposite side to house charcoal and lighter. He was understandably proud of the best barbeque grill in the neighborhood!

Festivities began early with the neighbors arriving around 2:00 pm. By late afternoon many in the crowd were already feeling the effects of the adult beverages supplied by the host, whom was especially enjoying himself. Everyone by now had grown tired of listening to an endless monolog by the host about the virtues of his new grill.

The time had come to fire up the grill! There was only one small problem. With all the preparations he had made for the cookout, Joe had forgotten charcoal lighter! Not to be detoured by such a small detail, he went into the tool shed at the back of his yard and brought back a large can of gasoline. After dumping a huge amount of charcoal into the bottom of the grill, he arranged it into a perfect pyramid. The fire was supposed to burn more consistently this way Joe informed the crowd.

By now the neighbors had begun realized what Joe was about to do and started yelling at him not to use the gasoline to start the fire. Offers were made to run next door to get charcoal lighter to no avail. Joe was determined to inaugurate his grill the proper way; with a large fire! He also assured everyone that he knew what he was doing!

Joy was enjoying himself, being the star of the show as it were. He upended the can of fuel over the charcoal and kept pouring even after the briquettes had been thoroughly soaked. Now came the moment of truth! He lit a match and with a dramatic flare, tossed it onto the charcoal! Whoooomp!

Mortar is very porous and does not always adhere perfectly to a surface without leaving a small crack in the mortar joint between bricks. When a liquid such as water or in this case gasoline fills that crack, it will flow into the base of the structure; in this case the barbeque grill. The vapors from the gasoline that had flowed into the grill did what gasoline vapors do when they come in contact with a flame. The grill exploded!

Bricks and mortar blown into pieces, rained from the sky onto all of us who had witnessed the explosion! No one was hurt because most of the crowd and moved safely away from Joe when they saw what he was about to do. Joe was slightly injured by a fragment of the grill grazing his forehead. Nothing serious!

His beautiful barbeque pit was destroyed! A few seconds before, it was a beautiful example of workmanship; something to be proud of and enjoy for years to come. Now it was just a pile of rocks! Joe had apparently never heard that in some cases, alcohol and gasoline don't mix! Warning! Drinking and starting fires with gasoline can kill you! Whether you're drinking adult beverages or not, do not use gasoline for a charcoal starter!

My neighbor Joe has recovered from the disaster of last year. He is now making plans to build and even bigger charcoal cooker than the last one. From the size of the storage area in the barbeque pit, I doubt that he will ever run out of charcoal lighter again!

Remember, friends don't let friends barbeque drunk!
About the Author
Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, holiday eating and leisure living.
Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites at:
http://www.bluemarlinbob.com
http://www.pompanobob.com
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