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Why Do Gas Grill Burners Rust Out?

Jacquelyn Jeanty

Cooking outdoors on a gas grill can be nice alternative to cooking on a stove indoors. However, as an outdoor appliance a gas grill becomes subject to the effects of weather while having to contain extremely hot temperatures on a repeated basis. As a result, these conditions can cause rust formations throughout a grill’s burner compartment.

Gas Burner Materials

Gas grill burners develop rust from the effects of moisture and heat.

The types of materials used to make a gas burner can affect how durable or rust resistant a burner compartment will be. In general, the materials used to make gas burners include stainless steel, sheet metal, pipe stainless steel, cast iron, cast brass and cast stainless steel. In effect, simply using a grill on a regular basis will cause rust formations to develop unless its one of the higher-end models. Higher-end (and more costly) grills include non-rusting burner materials such as cast brass, cast stainless steel and pipe stainless steel, which carry lifetime rust-proof guarantees. Otherwise, grill burners made from non-rust-resistant materials will eventually begin to rust after a period of use.

Rust Formations

Rust can form on gas grill burners for several different reasons, including the types of foods cooked on a grill and weather conditions. Drippings and vapor gases caused by acidic foods, such meats and seafood, contribute to rust formation along grill burners as acid eats away at metal surfaces. Weather conditions involving large amounts of moisture, rain or salty air can also cause rust to form. These factors, combined with the water produced within the actual fire-combustion process, all take a toll on a grill’s metal burner surfaces.


Over time, the effects of weather, food liquids and cooking cause certain areas of a gas grill burner to show the beginning signs of rust. Areas where grease can drip and accumulate, such as the seams that line the burner compartment, may start to erode or become thin in places. Thin areas may also appear around burner ports, and in some cases misshapen metal surfaces may cause port openings to meld together. When these conditions exist, gas grill burners may cause a malfunction in the distribution of the flame, which can make the grill unsafe.


Since rust formations develop from moisture, food residue and weather conditions, grill owners can take certain precautions to help reduce rust and prolong the life of a gas burner unit. Regular cleanings of grill burners can reduce or eliminate the amount of acid buildup. Burning off food residues can also reduce acid and grease buildup along burner ports. This process involves turning burner ports on high for 10 minutes or so after cooking and then brushing bits and flakes off burner surfaces. To avoid moisture buildup, allow the burners to cool off before closing the hood of the grill. To counter the effects of weather and moisture, use a grill cover to help to protect burner surfaces during periods of nonuse.