4 tips for grilling different types of meat!
Grilling indoors with lumpwood charcoal is dangerous, as significant amounts of toxic gases, mainly carbon monoxide (CO), are released during its combustion. Even if you open the windows and doors to your grilling area for “safety reasons,” deadly concentrations of CO can build up. This risk also exists with devices advertised as “indoor grills”, despite the fact that they use charcoal as a heat source. The same applies to cookware, so called “hot pots”, that works with the use of charcoal, if used indoors.
Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recently completed a research project in collaboration with the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM). This project investigated the concentrations of CO emitted when charcoal grills or open fires are used indoors and how long it takes to endanger humans. The result: even after a relatively short time, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are reached.
The BfR has been pointing out the dangers of indoor grilling for years. However, so far there is no measured data on the formation, spread and spatial distribution of carbon monoxide (CO) indoors during the operation of charcoal grills and other charcoal heat sources. In order to collect data on indoor CO concentrations during grilling, several experiments were conducted, each involving 800 grams of charcoal.
Preliminary tests carried out in a small measuring chamber had already shown that life-threatening gas concentrations are reached very quickly. Since the situation of larger indoor spaces could not be reproduced in the measurement chamber due to its small spatial volume, additional measurements were made in a larger chamber. Due to its spatial volume of 19 cubic meters, the chamber provides a good model for a small garage or living room. In the experiments, the CO concentration was measured both under the roof of the chamber and in the immediate vicinity of the grill. No significant differences were detected, as the combustion gas was relatively evenly distributed throughout the room. After just two hours of burning 800 grams of charcoal, CO concentrations of over 3000 ppm (parts per million) were measured. If people breathe ambient air of such concentrations, they lose consciousness after a few minutes.
Studies show how quickly the odorless gas can build up to a level that can be fatal: the time span between occurrence of the first visible symptoms and loss of consciousness is very short. People who suffer from CO poisoning often have no symptoms at first. Due to the cherry-red discoloration of blood pigment, they actually look very healthy. However, when they try to stand up, their bodily functions suddenly fail, causing them to pass out. In addition, it must be taken into account that even very low concentrations pose a risk, because the gas remains in closed spaces for a long time and accumulates in the blood.
BAM and BfR therefore strongly recommend against using combustion materials such as charcoal indoors as a heat source for grilling, cooking or heating.
It is therefore to be noted that, for the safe use of charcoal, it is necessary for the professional grilling areas of catering companies to be equipped with strong extractor fans and ventilation, in order to ensure the adequate distribution of oxygen in the space and the removal of dangerous carbon monoxide gases.