What You Should Use Instead Of Aluminum Foil For Your Grill

Most humans spend at least some portion of their day in a kitchen. Whether passing through for a quick grab-and-go or creating true labors of love for family dinners, we all know our way around that ground-control food base in our home. But do we really pay attention to commonplace cooking essentials such as aluminum foil? When it comes to outdoor grilling, those shimmering foil sheets may be transferring aluminum into your food, causing undesirable health issues.

Healthline identifies three things that can affect the amount of aluminum being released into your food: high heat, salts and spices, and acidic foods such as tomatoes. When aluminum pans and foils come in contact with acids and salts, which are common in grilling ingredients such as BBQ spices and vinegar — or tomato-based sauces, the aluminum absorption and concentrations can increase, explains the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Aluminum is a naturally occurring metal and Earth's most abundant metallic element, per Britannica. According to The Sun, small amounts of aluminum enter human bodies through certain foods, but higher levels have been linked to everything from Alzheimer's to kidney disease and osteoporosis. The solution to this dilemma for outdoor grilling could be as simple as finding alternatives to aluminum foil.

Healthier options to grilling with aluminum foil

Think about how you use aluminum foil on the grill. Foil packets and trays can protect delicate or pre-cut items such as vegetables and potatoes, while wrapping meats in foil can help prevent moisture loss from high heat.

Covering meat in aluminum foil does keep it from drying out so quickly, but at what cost? According to a study by the Meat Science Journal published by Research Gate, meat wrapped and cooked in aluminum foil resulted in chemical increases ranging from 89% to 378% increase in red meat to 76% to 215% in poultry. Food52 recommends a cast-iron skillet or lidded metal cookware. When grilling fish, use a wood grilling plank, which also imparts a smoky flavor infusion.

Turning up the sides of aluminum foil sheets to create little protective boats does keep small or fragile food from nosediving onto the flames below. But it also puts those morsels into direct contact with aluminum particles, especially if you've seasoned them with spices or acidic sauces. A metal grill basket serves the same purpose while protecting the food and making it easy to toss, explains the Bob Vila site.

Avoiding foil for grill cleanup

So, the grill party was a success, and now it's time for cleanup. You want your appliance sitting pretty for the next cookout, but that doesn't always mean spending hours scrubbing and removing seared-on drips and spills. Avoid pre-covering the grate with foil. In addition to adding aluminum to the food, Weber states that it can impede heat ventilation and damage internal components. A simple solution is to prep it with cooking spray or cooking oil. Today recommends spraying or rubbing it on as a preventive measure. For gas grills, avoid fire danger by turning off the gas supply or removing the grates before spraying.

If you're tempted to use aluminum foil chunks to knock off debris, you might want to reconsider that practice. The back-and-forth motion only breaks down the aluminum articles and leaves them lingering inside your grill, ready to contaminate future morsels of sizzling deliciousness. Instead, grill scrapers and stiff wire brushes do the trick — just avoid ones containing aluminum.

It can be hard to kick long-held kitchen habits. But when it comes to excessive use of aluminum foil, listen to your health-radar intuition — and then fire up that grill!