Weird Smell Inside My Barrel Grill

by Shaun McGhee
(Detroit Michigan )

I’ve baroque’d and smoked meat for years.

My knowledge and skill has improved over years with the help and learning from my Dad. My barrel grill has sat unused for about 2-3 months, sometimes covered, sometime no covered (I’m in Michigan).
For the very first time, while getting the coals hot in side trays and during cooking, a weird smell & taste was present. I cleaned the grates & bottom settlement twice & changed the coals and still got the weird scent.
Not sure if it’s the inside of the grill (which has never been a issue, moisture in the coals or what.
Can you offer a reason for the weird smell and taste??

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Apr 29, 2022
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Weird Smell Inside My Barrel Grill
by: Paul

I can't hand on heart say exactly what the weird smell is but I can maybe offer a process for how to get rid of it.
Lets start with the basics....you have a barrel grill, it's not particularly a high tech piece of equipment and as you've already pointed out, there are essentially three elements.
  1. The shell of the barrel
  2. The grill grates
  3. The charcoal and firelighters

The weird smell must be a contamination of some kind or another so a thorough clean inside the barrel with a power washer would be a good place to start.
Next, throw away any old charcoal and buy some fresh virgin hardwood charcoal. Some cheaper grades of charcoal can be made from recycled furniture and thus contaminated with varnish etc. Using virgin hardwood charcoal and an eco friendly firelighter will eliminate the possibility that this could be the problem. Don't use any petrochemical based cubes, gels or liquid.
Next, the grill grates need a good clean and I prefer to do this by lighting the barbecue, getting the coals good and hot and placing the grill grates as close to the heat as possible. Any debris on the grill grates will pyrolise and then you can brush it off with a wire brush.
If there's rust on your grill grates then try soaking in vinegar.
Now you should have everything clean and ready to go so imagine you're seasoning a new grill. Get everything up to temperature, brush the grill grates with cooking oil and let the fire burn without cooking any food.
You might want to do this a couple of times, maybe add some wood smoke and you'll start to build layers of smokey goodness all over the inside of your barrel.
I hope that helps.

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