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Health Warning For Wire Brushing Your Grates


Joined Sep 17, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen, a friend of mine who is a Physicians Asst in an ER gave me a good heads up today.  One of the other ER docs had a patient that ingested a small piece of wire from a brush he used to clean his grill grates.  He said he felt it in his mouth but wasn't able to get it out somehow.  Not sure of the details.  Anyway, the guy ended up dying of sepsis two weeks later.  The sharp wire caused a lesion in his intestine and it got infected.

This is not an urban legend.  I promise you.  Most of the time after I wire brush I will wipe down with an oil soaked towel.  After this, I'll surely take a closer look for any remnants.  When that brush starts betting old, replace it.

Happy Smoking Y'all


Master of the Pit
Group Lead
Joined Jul 23, 2012
It's funny that you posted this. This past summer I noticed that my old wire brush was leaving pieces of itself behind on my grill grates. So I chucked it.


Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Joined Oct 4, 2012
A grill stone works better than a wire brush. Most restaurant supply's carry them.


Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
Joined Aug 1, 2008
I don't use those lousy brushes in the BBQ section of the store.

Get a heavy duty job from the paint section which is not actually "wire".

Good luck and good smoking.


Meat Mopper
Joined Feb 7, 2014
after I'm done cooking/smoking I let the temp get up hot and wash my grates with a blast of water from my house water hose. all the bulky left over junk on the grates is washed off yet the grates stay seasoned. that way when I start the next cook its clean and ready to go with no brushing needed.


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Group Lead
Joined Feb 28, 2010
He felt a piece of wire in his mouth and swallowed it any way? Difficult to believe, but ...

This was a story a few years ago, seems there was a rash of people eating wire brushes in Rhode Island and landing in the ER. Every once in  awhile a story like this emerges, some are true, some are not. Bottom line is always check your grates if you use a wire brush, I always do.


Joined Feb 16, 2014
Great information none the less. Really never crossed my mind but I have always used the heavy duty "brushes". The heavy gauge ones.


Meat Mopper
Joined Nov 11, 2012
I can relate (somewhat)  Last summer I decided to clean out all the crud from the grill, so I scraped all that crap onto the drip tray, and pulled it out intending to clean that as well.  I got distracted with a a phone call or something, and walked away for a few minutes. When I came back, my wonderfully nosy dog had licked the thing clean, complete with probably hundreds of wire fragments.  I absolutely freaked out, and called the emergency vet, as it was the weekend.  They said, well, they are too small to show up on an xray of MRI, keep a close eye on her, and hope for the best.  What worried me was these little wires are stainless steel or brass, they're not going to dissolve. 

Well. thank god she came out alright, but I never use the grill without first wiping it down with a rag or something first to get those off.

Remember, it's the little things that get you-

tucson bbq fan

Smoking Fanatic
Joined Jun 30, 2013
I let my grates cool off, then take them out and lean them up against the fence in the yard - my dog loves to lick it clean and is great at getting the crusty stuff off.  Then I throw them back on and cook the next meal.  (Kidding - I do a soap and water clean after the doggy grate washer!)


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Group Lead
Joined Mar 6, 2009
Really bad luck.  Think about all the garbage you accidently swallow.  Most of it is carried through the digestive track tangled up with non-digestible roughage or caught in the mucus layers of your stomach and safely passed out of the body. 

I always follow a wire brushing of the hot grates with paper towels soaked in veg oil.  If using the RF I  follow the paper towels with a good spray of water from the hose, let them dry and then re-oil.


Smoke Blower
Joined Oct 16, 2013
I heat the grates, then wire brush them. Turn off the heat and with either a old (clean) t-shirt rag or even paper towels folded over and soaked in olive oil, use my tongs to rub the cloth across the grates. You'd be amazed at how much additional carbon comes off and it seasons the grates for the next cook. Keeps them in good shape as well.


Smoke Blower
Joined Jun 28, 2013
There was a segment on one of the Hospital TV shows on this recently. After I saw that, I realized that I bit down on a wire from a brush a few months ago, that had broken loose and attached to my burger. I was lucky, but I canned the wire brush and went and bought a stone the next day.

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