Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Review of a Grill Mat

BBQ Accessories
I’m a nut for barbecue accessories. Some people are into their cars, or houses or guitars, but I’m into my barbecue. I actually collect barbecue accessories and barbecue tools and I use them all so I consider myself something of an expert on them. Granted, a lot of it is fairly subjective and that’s one of the things that bugs me about a lot of the BBQ tool reviews I read, is that the review will dis a product just because it doesn’t suit their personal taste. That’s hardly fair. Good reviewers know the difference between poor quality and personal disappointment and write accordingly. So you people out there who are writing reviews peppered with your arbitrary subjectivity better get with the program and cut that out.

BBQ Grill Mat Collection
My recent collection has been BBQ grill mats. I have purchased and tried out ten different brands out of the top sellers on Amazon, and frankly it surprised me how different they all were. Size is a big difference, for one thing. Some of them are quite small, around fifteen inches long, so they’re almost square. Almost all of them are thirteen inches wide. I really can’t see the point in buying a short BBQ grill mat since you can cut them with scissors if they’re too long but you sure can’t add any length to them.

The next very noticeable difference between the different brands of mats is the thickness. Granted, they only differ in thickness by a tenth of a millimeter or less, but oddly it does make a lot of difference in how well they handle. The ultra thin ones which are from .1mm to .15mm are papery and awkward. They are harder to clean because they have no stability and are far more susceptible to burning, which is not good. The thicker mats are from .2mm to .25mm and that seems like a good range. I didn’t see any advantage to the mats thicker than .2mm since they handled perfectly on the grill and were easy to wash too.

Surface Texture
The only other difference between the various brands of grill mats was the surface texture. The mats are made from a fiberglass cloth that is coated with the non-stick surfacing. Different brands of the barbecue mats use varying amounts of the nonstick coating. Now this could be one of those subjective areas. I’ll explain the difference. When the grill mats have less of the non-stick surfacing you can see and feel the texture of the underlying fabric. It’s like tiny squares that show through the surfacing. When the grill mats have extra layers of the nonstick PTFE the ridges of the fabric are barely visible at all and the surface of the mat is very slick because of the lack of texture.

Coefficient of Friction
I preferred the slick mats. The slicker the better for me. I feel the food is a lot easier to manage with no resistance from the mats, and the brands that have the least surface texture are also a lot easier to clean. I’ve heard people complain that the mats slide around on the grill, but handling that is just an issue of technique. You just hold the mat in place with your tongs while you use your spatula with the other hand and vice versa. Really no big deal. And the advantages of the lower coefficient of friction, as it’s called, is well worth any inconvenience of having to learn a simple new technique.

Chef Caron
So based on my experiments with the mats, I came away with two favorites, the Chef Caron BBQ Grill Mats were number one for me, followed closely by the Kona grill mats. Both brands are thick enough to be durable and easy to manage, but the Chef Caron mats are larger, which I like. The Kona mats are slightly thicker than the Chef Caron version, but it doesn’t add any advantages. Consequently, when you factor in the pricing, there’s no question about the winner. The Chef Caron grill mats vary in price, depending on the time of year, from 14.95 to 17.95 and the Kona mats are consistently 23.95. So I’m recommending the Chef Caron mats as the clear winner on this one.

Coming Soon - Grill Brushes
My next barbecue tools comparison will be about grill brushes. If you don’t use a BBQ grill mat when you are using your grill then you probably use a grill brush to clean your grill, since it will need it. There are a lot of different brands available so I’ll tell you what I think based on the one’s I’ve tried out. And I’ll say right up front, just like with the non-stick barbecue grill mats, I have a clear favorite but you’ll need to decide for yourself. After all, I don’t want to be one of those reviewers that thinks my personal preference are a reflection of quality. So having said that, here’s me and my opinions signing off until next time.

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