Why Don’t Gas Grills Use Lava Rocks Anymore?

Why don't gas grills use lava rocks anymore?

Why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore? Everything To Know

The grilling industry is largely based-on the concept that producing smoke is the key to adding that traditional flavor to grilled food. When gas grills hit the market in the early 1990s, they quickly became popular because of their convenience and durability. Unlike traditional charcoal grills, gas grills do not require any preparation time and are less likely to break down. Gas grills were traditionally – designed with a barrier made of lava locks, so that if drippings fell onto the hot barrier, they would produce smoke. The smoke would then in turn be -used to flavor the food.  However, one of the main drawbacks of gas grills is that they can be difficult to regulate the temperature. One way to improve heat control is by using lava rocks. But many gas grill manufacturers have stopped including lava rocks in their designs in recent years. So why did they stop using them? And what are some alternatives for improving heat control on a gas grill? This article will give an answer for this question.

What is the gas grills?

The gas grills is a grill that uses gas to make fire. It is also known as the propane grills or the liquid propane grills. It works like other kitchen appliances by throwing out heat and light to cook food. It is very easy to use but for safety purposes, you should follow instructions on how to use your grill properly. 

The history of gas grills is an interesting topic that dates back to the early 1900s. Gas grills became popular in the 1950s, however, what is the history of gas grills goes back even further beyond that period.  Gas grills were originally -used on some ships to cook briskets. The first gas grill was -invented by Charles Wilson, who patented it in 1897.

Benjamin Tate is credited with the first charcoal gas grill model. This charcoal gas grill was-launched in 1955 and was -called “go anywhere barbecue”. Tate’s invention of this name meant that you could take your barbecue wherever you wanted to, not just where there was a fire pit or fireplace. 

Gas grills are now very popular throughout the world for several reasons: they heat up quickly, are easy to use and maintain, do not produce ash or any other residue that can be messy when removing it from your property once cooked, which means more cooking space around the home.

The method of cooking using this device is changing every time because many types of gas grills can provide different types of cooking options.

The first type is the portable propane gas grills need only one pound cylinders which are cheaper than the larger ones, they are perfect for tailgating, camping, or picnicking on open areas with power outlets available. This type of grill has a small size and is very easy to carry.

Other types are the built-in grills can be-mounted below your countertop or can be- installed permanently on outdoor kitchens. They need larger propane tanks than the portable ones so they are more expensive but it will not require you to change cylinders frequently as maintenance is much easier.

The other type is the natural gas grills which need a direct connection to a home’s main line of natural gas or those who have a dedicated propane tank with adapters, this type of grill is great if you want to avoid any hassle of storing and changing cylinders.

For safety purposes, never use a grill indoors even if it has a cover over it because there might still be some hot areas that can cause a fire. Never use gasoline, kerosene, benzene, or alcohol to light up your grill because it will produce dangerous fumes that can cause serious accidents.

Do not ever leave your grill still under operation even when you leave the house or go to sleep just for safety purposes in case there is an accident. When you are-done using your grill, turn off the propane tank and let it cool down for a couple of minutes.

The gas grills are not harmful to the environment because it uses clean and efficient cooking fuels and lowers carbon dioxide emissions than other kinds of fuel like wood or charcoal. Many types of gas grills use natural gas works great in areas where electricity is not available or as an alternative energy source, this type emits very little carbon dioxide will not cause global warming.

What is lava rocks?

The lava rock is a type of rock that is usually used in the form of aggregate.it consists mainly of various kinds of minerals mostly quartz, feldspar, or obsidian, It is widely used for landscaping, but it also has many other functions. There are two main types of lava rocks, porous and non-porous. The porous lava rock works well for drainage because water can pass through it easily. The porous type can be -cut with a diamond blade saw to create custom shapes and sizes. The porous lava rock is ideal for drainage under pavers, walkways, patios, and around plants. A solid base of the porous type works well for lining ponds or creating waterfalls because it offers excellent support.

The non-porous rock does not allow water to penetrate through it, so extra care must be -taken when using this type of rock in wet areas or soil conditions. It can be- used as a hard surface material for driveways, patios, pool decks, and other non-wet applications where strength is important.

A brief history of lava rocks

Lava rock is a form of indigenous rock, meaning it was- created from the magma or lava of a volcano. Magma is the term that geologists use for lava when it has still inside the volcano; once it flows outside, it has known as lava. Technically, however, both terms refer to the same material. Lava rocks can be- formed from either version, depending on where the sample was when it was-found.  Igneous rock is very popular in the cuisine of different countries to cook delicious dishes. However, this stone can be -used not only for cooking but also for other purposes, for example for decorating and gardening.

First, we will see what they are made of, a lava rock is an igneous rock formed by cooling lava, basically when volcanic material is ejected from a volcano such as hot gases that rise into the atmosphere then solidify without properly erupting due to lower pressure inside the earth’s crust. The form of these rocks varies depending on the speed with which they solidified during their ejection. It has a dark gray color ​​and a rough surface because it is porous and usually has large cavities inside.

The lava rocks are mainly -found in the regions of volcanoes, which could also be located in tropical areas such as Hawaii. In addition to these islands, they can also be -found in some corners of Japan, Indonesia, and East Africa. Even though they have been used for cooking for many centuries there is no agreement about when this began.

The benefits of lava rocks

The benefits of lava rocks are something that many creative people out there are looking for to help improve their work. Using lava rocks is an easy project that can be -done at home, and it will provide benefits not only for your creative projects but also for you as well.

Lava rocks create interesting effects when used in photography or the production of films. The reason they do this because of how they reflect light. When using these rocks, what you will be doing is capturing a portion of the area in front of the camera while also reflecting light so that it hits other parts of the background in interesting ways. You do not want to use too much light when you are doing creative things with lava rocks though, otherwise, it will not look natural.

Another creative skill where the lava rocks will provide benefits is painting. When you use them as a backdrop and incorporate them into your work, it will create interest and even allow for the addition of textures that would not be possible otherwise. The benefit to using this type of method is that your work will stand out from others, and people will enjoy looking at what you have done because it is something different than they are -used to.

Why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore? Lava rocks are very beneficial to have around in your home for several reasons beyond their creative uses though. They help improve the air quality thanks to the minerals that they give off, and they serve as a decoration that many people enjoy having in their homes or workplaces. These are stones that can be -used in all types of creative projects, and you will not regret purchasing them because of how much benefit they provide when it comes to design work or other things like that.

Why did gas grills use lava rocks?

As you know, grilling is all about flavor, primarily smoke flavor. Since the flame jets on a gas grill are incapable of providing this, lava rocks were- introduced as a creative solution. The idea is that by exposing high heat to a ceramic object, it will begin to absorb & emit smoke particles. For this to work optimally, the lava rocks must be- heated up just before grilling. This means that you have to light the gas grill first and then add the lava rocks into the flame jets after a few minutes of heating up. As a result, your food will get infused with a nice smoky flavor. Aside from the flavor factor, there are several reasons why this practice became popular. Here are the most common ones.

Heat Retention and Distribution

Why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore? Lava rocks offer a helping hand. As the stones warm up, they retain and reflect that ambient heat. This allows the cooking chamber to maintain a consistent temperature, so the entire cooking grid is available for use. When you add lava rocks to the gas grill, you can prepare more ingredients in a shorter time.

Moreover, the chamber will continue to hold its heat for a while even after the flame jets are- switched off, which is a big help when it comes to indirect cooking techniques. This benefit also cuts down on the propane bills.

Lava rocks do not come in direct contact with the meat, the way it happens when you use a grill pan. The stones are -placed between the flame jets and the cooking grid at least several inches below. This way they just radiate heat to the food without risking burning anything.


As we mentioned, lava rocks can last for a long time when they are- treated properly. This led many people to believe that they were a good investment since they would not need to be -replaced very often, if at all. 

 However, lava rocks do not conduct heat as well as some other materials like ceramic briquettes or lava plates. That means that you have to use more of them if you want to cover just a small surface of your grill – and that means that they can absorb a large amount of heat before reaching a point where it would be effective for cooking. When this happens, they tend to pop and crackle, which is cool but does not do much from an aesthetic standpoint. The popping can also cause pieces of the rock to break off and fall into your food, so there has another reason why you might not want to use them.

Grease Absorption

Lava rocks are porous, meaning that their surface is made -up of pockmarks and crevices that readily absorb liquids, including fat. When the drippings collide with the rock, they soak into the surface instead of splattering in all directions. In the short term, this prevents the kind of flare-ups that can ruin your dinner and possibly your health. In the long term, it can help cut your gas usage.

“We’re seeing more people using lava rocks these days,” said Jorel Ware of Valley Supply in Colorado Springs, Colo., “but I can’t tell if that’s because more people are cooking with gas or just because everybody is looking for ways to save money.”

Lava rocks are so effective at soaking up drippings that it is not necessary to put them under the grates directly over the burner. However, some cooks strategically distribute their rocks so they cover one or two burners at a time, covering each grate with three pounds of rocks. “Because heat rises,” Ware explained, “the ones right above the burner will be hotter than the ones lower down.

Smoky Flavor

Unlike charcoal grills, gas grills are not -built to produce smoke when cooking. This means that the grilled sausage will lack that smoky, charred taste of grilled food. Therefore, to counteract this problem, lava rocks were- used as barriers that would heat up any drippings and produce smoke to flavor food. Moreover, lava rocks burn just like charcoal, producing the same smoke used to flavor the food. However, it should be- noted that charcoal produces more smoke than lava rocks.

Reduced Cooking Time

Why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore? Lava rocks increase the surface area for cooking since the entire barrier becomes hot. This means that you can cook more than you could with only the gas grill’s surface area. Moreover, since lava stones help to cook food evenly, the cooking period is -reduced significantly.

Why gas grill no longer use lava rocks?

For starters, although lava rocks were effective in vaporizing the drippings and producing smoke, this soon became problematic. Since lava rocks are -made from a porous material, they do not normally catch fire. However, the drippings from the food you grill can make them very slippery and thus making them difficult to handle. This may lead to the pieces of lava rock falling to the bottom levels where they accumulate over time could pose a greater danger by causing a burn injury if exposed during a flare-up.

Why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore? It is for this reason that manufacturers stopped including lava rocks in their grills and replaced them with other materials such as aluminum or porcelain grids have been effective in eliminating these problems. In addition, since many people use their gas grills on covered patios, everything being -cooked must contact with life grates are regularly -cleaned. If not, the chances of contamination increase dramatically.

Steam produced by lava rocks also poses a problem to the food being –grilled. Steam would not only limit direct contact between the grill and your food but, can make it soggy or cause it to be undercooked if you were grilling meat.

Since this method does not allow for correct ventilation, some gases released from flammable liquids used in propane tanks might accumulate inside this enclosure and could trigger an explosion due to high temperatures caused by these dripping fumes. We should remember that even though our grill is made out of aluminum or stainless steel, these materials will oxidize when exposed to air at very high temperatures which release hydrogen gas as one of its products which may end up causing an explosion or fire.

Why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore? Let’s not forget that lava rocks are porous and thus, they do not only absorb the fat but also bacteria which can eventually contaminate your food when cooked on them.  

Finally, it is important to mention that the bottom of your grill should be- made out of a special heat-resistant material since direct contact between lava rock grills and combustible materials could cause spontaneous combustion. I hope you have learned some valuable information from this article and now know exactly why you should never use lava rocks for gas grills.

Why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore? Can lava rocks damage the gas grills?

What replace lava rocks?

While the problems of gas grills were permanent, those of lava stones could be -solved. Therefore, with the evolution of technology, an advanced solution was -found, and ceramic briquettes were- introduced to replace lava rocks.

A briquette is a block of dust from wood, charcoal, coal, or any other biomass is combustible. Briquettes work just like lava stones in distributing heat evenly, along with a number of other benefits.

The fact is there are many grill technology views, one of them will be- divided into two camps: “lava rock” and “ceramic briquettes”. As for the ceramic briquettes that can be -used on gas grills, its principle lies in ceramic material through special processing formed after heating at high temperatures, rough surface with porosity, so porous rate reached 90% – 100%, so great absorption of oxygen to promote combustion, cooling effect of strong. 

Ceramic briquettes are more free-flowing agents containing no chemical materials, but only mineral particles. So it has low toxicity and is harmless to the human body. Furthermore, there has no dust pollution during usage. Besides, it is not easily deformed and has a long life span, which can be- used for more than 5 years. And the heat exchange effect of ceramic briquettes is better than lava rocks.

Why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore? Briquette stones work as heat storage units or heat accumulators. Rocks at high temperatures absorb and store energy that is- released slowly once the briquettes let off heat. This makes it such that you can turn your grill down to just a little over ‘hold’ temperature, and not only will the food cook slower but more evenly as well.

How to Add Ceramic Briquettes to Your Gas Grills

  • Make sure the grill itself is clean and free of residue. Wash the cooking grates in hot soapy water and brush off the burner tubes. Use a stiff-bristled brush or putty knife to scrape out any grease or carbon buildup. Before placing food on the grill or turning it on, check all gas connections to ensure they are tight. Open the lid and turn the knobs to make sure no flames are coming from the burner tubes. If there is a problem, shut off the gas supply and call a professional for assistance.
  • Check to make sure that the gas ports are open and free of any blockages. The heat box itself should be well-ventilated. Check the heat box to ensure that the heat exchanger is not -bent, as this may also prevent efficient water vaporization. In small-scale ovens, a loose or incorrectly positioned gas jet can make some areas of the oven hotter than others, leading to non-uniform cooking.
  • Line the firebox with a few sheets of heavy aluminum foil. This will help to prevent residue from building up in the bottom while boosting heat retention.
  • Add a few scoops of gravel to the aluminum lining. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the gravel will allow the firebox to retain more heat. This will help the fire to stay lit longer, and it will also allow you to cook for much longer periods of time.
  • Add the ceramic briquettes. Arrange them evenly, so that all of the briquettes will be equidistant from the cooking grates. Do not stack them too high, or you will run the risk of burning your food. At the same time, do not keep the stack too low, or the briquettes will not be able to do their work properly.
  • Light the gas grill and close the lid. Allow the flames to burn until the briquettes turn red-hot. It may take several minutes for them to achieve full ignition, but they will gradually become much more brilliant in color as their temperature increases. Once they have achieved an even white glow, all of them should be glowing uniformly.
  • If your grill has a built-in thermometer, use it to check the internal temperature of the grill. Once it has reached your desired temperature, you are ready to start cooking.

How to clean Ceramic Briquettes

Although ceramic briquettes are durable, they need to be -cleaned for them to last longer. If your briquettes start crumbling and falling apart, it might be time to clean them. Should you not clean your ceramic briquettes, you risk them not distributing heat evenly and their functionality will be -compromised. Depending on the type of fuel you use in your stove or grill, it might be necessary to clean them even more often than once a year. This article will provide instructions on how to clean your ceramics briquettes both an electric kiln and using lye.

Cleaning Your Ceramic Briquettes by Heating Them in an Electric Kiln:

Why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore? The first thing you need to do is get the right plastic boxes for heating the briquettes in the electric kiln. These should have plenty of space between them so there is good airflow around each briquette, but they also must fit on the shelves of the electric kiln. Do not put them too close to another, they might crack when heated.

Once you have all your boxes filled with the briquettes you want to clean, set the kiln to 1100-1200 degrees Fahrenheit and let it heat for about an hour. Once that has done, turn off the power source and let it cool down slowly until it reaches room temperature. It is- recommended not to open the doors before this happen as they will release a lot of hot air creates uneven cooling. You do not need to wait until the electric kiln has fully cooled down before you start unloading. If you do so, however, always wear protective gear like gloves and protective goggles! Check with the instruction manual of your electric kiln to see how it is best- done with your specific model.

Once you have unloaded and cooled down the boxes, sorting out the briquettes that are charred and burned by tossing them into a cold metal barrel filled with water. After about an hour in cold water, you should be able to scrape off most of the burnt surface crumbles and black bits. Do not throw these away if they are not totally clean yet but keep washing them until they show no more signs of soot or discoloration. The unburned parts can simply be -returned to use after being- rinsed under running water. Rinse the briquettes one last time before placing them back in their storage containers.

Cleaning Your Ceramic Briquettes Using Lye

The first thing you need to do is get an enamel-safe container – large enough to hold the number of briquettes you want to clean. Ensure that it has a lid so it can be -sealed for better results. Do not use metal containers as the lye will corrode them, or rubber tubing might dissolve because of the lye’s corrosiveness. Only use plastic or ceramic containers! Fill up the container with water and pour in anywhere between 1/4th to a half cup of caustic soda depending on how many briquettes you have. They should be completely covered by liquid but make sure there are no air bubbles trapped inside. Mix well and let it sit for a moment to ensure all the lye has reacted with the water.

After this, take your first briquette and hold it under running water. Rub off thoroughly any black spots orbits that are stuck on the surface of the briquette. The ones that will not come off should be -put back into the container to continue soaking for a few minutes more. Rinse again with clear water until you do not see any soot residue, then place them in an oven-safe tray lined with aluminum foil if possible. Put them into your oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and leave them there until they dry out completely – around 30-45 minutes is enough time most likely. They cool down before placing them back into their storage container.

Briquettes harbor a lot of residual dust and dirt from the factory, so it is best to clean them thoroughly before using any pottery kiln. Cleaning your ceramic briquettes by heating them in an electric or gas kiln is a quick and effective way to do this, but if you have a kiln that cannot be heated for any reason, there is also another method using caustic soda can -be bought at retail stores. In both cases, it has recommended to wear protective gloves and goggles as well as be very careful during the process of unloading so you do not burn yourself on hot liquid or cause the briquettes to crack from uneven cooling. Do this regularly to ensure clean and safe firing of your clay pieces!

Some food recipes using gas grill we can try

Grilled Asparagus

Few veggies grill up as nicely as asparagus. Thin stalks get crispy while thicker ones get tender. Finish with a bit of lemon or Parm and you will have the perfect cookout side in under 5 minutes.

For perfect grilled asparagus every time:

  1. Let your grill (or grill pan) preheat. You want it HOT, so that you hear a sizzle as soon as the asparagus hits the grate. This is where that char comes into play. A hot grill will ensure that your asparagus develops flavor while cooking to the proper tenderness. A grill that is not quite hot enough will result in more shriveled, dehydrated stalks.
  2. Cut off the woody ends. Trim the bottom inch or so off of each spear. It’s the part that tends to be super tough and very hard to chew and swallow. For bonus points, throw it into your compost!
  3. Season your asparagus generously. Not enough salt = bland. As simple as it is, proper seasoning can make or break a good bite. To avoid undesirable burning on the hot grates, save other flavors—like our burger seasoning—for sprinkling on after the asparagus come off the grill
  4. Be patient. If the stalks you are grilling are on the bigger side, they will take longer to cook. The asparagus is ready when you can easily pierce the middle with a fork and the stalk bends over like a tall tree in a storm when picked up.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

When the weather gets warm, grilled corn on the cob is basically mandatory. The sweetness and crunch that comes with amazing summer corn complimented by a bit of smokey char, what could be better? But before you can get to that first bite, you have have pick out the best possible ears of corn. Here’s what you need to know.



4 ears corn, shucked

Butter, for serving

Kosher salt

How To Buy The Best Corn:

When buying corn on the cob, the easiest way to find the best ears is to peel back the husks a bit to peek at the kernels. However, you definitely can’t fully shuck 20 ears of corn at the grocery store when you plan to buy five. To find the best ears of corn, start by eye: 

  • Look for ears with tight green husks and golden brown, slightly sticky tassels (that’s the hairy bit up top). 
  • Avoid brownish crackly husks and dry or black tassels. 
  • Feel the ear for plump kernels, skipping those with holes where kernels did not grow.  

But, of course, the only way to really know is to take some home and throw ‘em on the grill


Preheat grill to high and heat for 10 minutes. (Alternatively, preheat grill pan to high.) Add corn and cook, turning often, until charred all over, about 10 minutes.

Spread butter over warm corn and season with salt.

Grilled Chicken Wings

We have fried our chicken wings and we’ve baked our chicken wings and yes we’ve air fried our chicken wings. But there’s a special place in our heart for these super easy grilled chicken wings. What they might lack in the super crisp nature of fried wings, they make up for in smokiness, beautiful grill marks and convenience!

 They cook up fast (like, 15 to 20 minutes fast), they are coated in a seriously delicious spice rub, and they have got a zingy dipping sauce you’ll want to eat with everything. If possible we recommend grilling these over charcoal to add a bit more flavor and smoke that you can’t achieve with a gas grill. (Though truly these are unreal either way)!




Zest of 1 lemon

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. cayenne

2 lb. chicken wings

Vegetable oil, for grill



Zest of 1 lemon

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. cayenne

2 lb. chicken wings

Vegetable oil, for grill


1/2 c. mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. horseradish

2 tsp. freshly chopped chives

1 tsp. hot sauce, such as Crystal


Make wings: In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon zest, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and cayenne. Pat chicken wings dry and place in a large bowl. Add spice mixture and toss to coat.

Heat grill or grill pan to medium heat. Oil grill grates with vegetable oil. Add wings and cook, stirring occasionally, until skin is crisp and meat is -cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together mayo, lemon juice, mustard, horseradish, chives, and hot sauce.

Serve wings hot with dipping sauce.

>>> See more: Setup Nexgrill Gas Grill to Use Lava Rocks (Why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore?)


Why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore? There are a few reasons why gas grills do not use lava rocks anymore, but the main one is that they can be dangerous. If you have an old grill with lava rock in it and want to keep using them, make sure your other safety precautions are up-to-date before operating your grill because these rocks can get really hot! The last thing you want is for someone to touch them while they are still lit on fire from the propane flame below it. Always read all of the instructions about how best to operate any type of outdoor barbecue device before attempting anything new or different than what’s been instructed by its manufacturer or user manual. Safety first!

Read more:

How to Clean Cast Iron Grill Grates? Quick Tip

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