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Avoid the Health and Environmental Risks of Charcoal BBQ Grilling

Author: Sam McMaster
by Sam McMaster
Posted: Apr 02, 2020
electric smoker

Thick columns of smoke billowing up from a charcoal grill in the heat of summer are a common scene in many neighborhoods. Heck, summer just wouldn’t be summer in America without a smoking charcoal bbq burning, but should you be worried about your health?

Charcoal bbq grills have been in existence commercially since the 1800’s, but little has changed in their design. You can design a charcoal grill to retain and distribute heat evenly, but you can’t make it more eco-friendly.

And then there’s the concern over the possible health risks of charcoal grilling.

Research by the American Cancer Society indicates that charcoal grilling may pose cancer risks. The National Cancer Institute, for instance, has identified 17 different cancer-causing HCAs that result from grilling ‘muscle meats’. High consumption of fried or barbecued meats can also increase your risk of developing pancreatic, colorectal or breast cancer.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also known as PAH's, can form when fat from your burger or steak drips onto the charcoal in your grill. The resulting smoke is absorbed by your food, but it can also form directly on meat that has been seared and charred.

Cooking time also plays a significant role in the risk of cancer when grilling with charcoal. The longer meat cooks under hot temperatures, the more carcinogens form. HCA’s, or heterocyclic amines, are another type of carcinogenic compound that forms as a result of charcoal grilling and contributes to cancer.

Environmental concern over the burning of fossil fuels is another reason why some households are making the switch from charcoal to electric. Both charcoal and wood are fuels that burn dirty, producing tiny soot particles that can be inhaled. These soot particles contribute further to air pollution.

Lump charcoal and briquettes, unfortunately, aren’t very eco-friendly either. Made from charred wood, they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, although they are dwarfed in volume by the effect of cars.

You’re much better off burning natural charcoal products. Avoid charcoal brands that include harmful additives such as petroleum, oil, coal, borax, starch, or limestone.

An electric smoker can be used to cook a wide range of smoked meats, including pork, beef, poultry, fish, and wild game. Electric smokers offer grilling lovers a cleaner, healthier and more eco-friendly option for enjoying delicious, savory, grilled recipes of all kinds.

With a quality electric smoker, you can eliminate the need for charcoal fuel completely. Cleaning and maintaining an electric smoker is much easier, as there is no grimy fuel debris or soot to remove. You simply remove the cooking racks for washing and wipe down the interior cooking chamber.

Wood chips or pellets are the required fuel for any electric smoker, but they are easier to clean than charcoal. You’ll also find brands of natural wood chips with no harmful additives for a cleaner, healthier burn. Today’s top brands are designed to use literally a handful of wood chips for hours of cooking. An energy-efficient heating element generates most of the heat, while the wood burns slowly to generate just enough smoke to provide flavor. Check out Fire Food Chef for the latest and most in-depth electric smoker reviews.

Moreover, an electric smoker will reduce your carbon footprint. You can find energy-efficient models with the latest SMART features, digital temperature control, and Wifi to make your grilling more convenient and hassle-free.

About the Author

An observer of the human condition. Endlessly curious about how and why the world works.

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Author: Sam McMaster
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Sam McMaster

Member since: Sep 26, 2019
Published articles: 36

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