Can You Use Lava Rocks in Charcoal Grill?

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Placing lava rocks on fire is one of the oldest methods of cooking. However, even with the improvements and advancements in technology, this method is far from outdated.

In fact, the use of lava rocks in grills can make your food taste more sumptuous and delicious. 

Can You Use Lava Rocks in Charcoal Grill?

Yes, lava rocks can certainly be used with charcoal grills, even though doing so will not offer any significant benefits.

Lava rocks are best used with gas grills, as these grills struggle to retain heat.

Since charcoal grills are already great at providing steady and consistent heat – not to mention that they produce an even better smoky flavor than lava rocks.

Using lava rocks on a charcoal grill will not have any added advantages. 


Benefits of Using Lava Rocks:

Like we mentioned, even with all the advancements and sophistication, lava rocks still remain popular among grill users.

Below are a few reasons behind this undying popularity:

  1. More Efficient Heat Retention:

These rocks are extremely porous. Since lava rocks once belonged to an active volcano, they must be cooled down before they can be used.

During the cooling process, the gas bubbles trapped inside the lava cause the rocks to turn porous. 

These empty spaces make it easier for the rock to retain heat, thereby increasing the efficiency of the entire grilling process.

The porosity ensures uniform and steady heat to all parts of the grill. A related benefit is that when the mouth-watering juices or fats drip onto the rocks, they get vaporized.

The vaporization leads to the release of aromatic flavors, and these flavors are then infused back into the food. 

  1. Lower Energy Consumption:

In the absence of lava rocks, a grill needs to be operated at lower heat so as to keep it from burning the food.

When on low heat, the grill radiates large amounts of heat to the outside environment.

This means that, without lava rocks, grilling can be an extremely time- and energy-consuming process. 

Lava rocks, on the other hand, absorb and spread the heat evenly across the grill, allowing you to ramp up the amount of heat.

This reduces the amount of time it takes for the food to be cooked, leading to reduced heat consumption. 

If that is not enough, lava rocks keep radiating heat for a while even after the gas has been turned off.

You can use this residual heat for finishing purposes, or to keep the food warm until you are ready to tuck in. 

  1. More Hygienic Cooking:

Due to the porosity of the lava rocks, they can absorb the juices, fats, and food drippings.

This means that you do not have to deal with any leftover grease at the base of the grill.

In other words, the grill cleanup will be easier and quicker, and this ease and quickness will contribute to overall grilling experience. 

Having said that, the lava rocks themselves would still require cleaning – excessively dirty lava rocks can cause the fats and oils to seep through, increasing the risk of a flare-up. 

  1. Cost Effective:

The durability of lava rocks means that they can be repeatedly used for a long time.

In fact, with the right maintenance and care, you can use your lava rocks for several years on end.

As long as these rocks are porous, they are good enough for grilling

Over time, though, the grease will start to shut off the holes in the rocks, which is when you should consider replacing them.

Once the rocks stop being porous, they will stop absorbing the various drippings.

This means that the drippings will then reach your burner and lead to flare-ups or explosions.

However, once the lava rocks have retired from their grilling services, they can always be used in gardens for landscaping purposes. 

  1. Environmentally-Friendly:

Alongside being economical, hygienic, and energy-efficient, grilling using lava rocks is also better for our environment.

Being organic, the lava rocks do not pollute the surroundings once they have been disposed of. 

Steps Involved In Using Lava Rocks:

Thankfully, using lava rocks for grilling or BBQs is not complicated at all.

In fact, the entire process consists of three primary steps, all of which are discussed below:


Step 1 – Purchasing the Required Equipment:

To grill using lava rocks, you will naturally have to start by purchasing lava rocks. Other than that, you must also buy stainless-steel rack that you will use to place the rocks. 

The rack should not be too large for your grill, and should fit in the rack supports without coming into contact with the grill’s burner tubes.

This will ensure that the tubes are not loaded unnecessarily. 

Likewise, you also need to make sure that the rocks themselves are not too large.

Excessively large rocks will sit too close to the grates and lead to higher-than-required temperatures.

Do not forget to rinse and lightly dry the rocks before using them. 

Step 2 – Accommodating the Rocks:

Start by removing your grill grate and placing the rack above the burners.

If the grill has Vaporizer or Flavorizer bars, you will have to remove those as well, since these bars can prevent the rocks from reaching the desired temperature.

Once the above has been done, carefully arrange the rocks on the rack. Ensure even distribution and that the rocks are not overlapping. 


Step 3 – Start Grilling:

Once there is some space between the great and the rocks, put the grate back in its place.

The next step is turning the burners on and closing the lid, which will allow the temperature of the grill to go up. 

Once you feel that the grill has reached its required temperature, use it just like you always do.

You can now expect your food to have the kind of smoky flavor that was always found wanting. 

Wrapping Up:

To sum up, lava rocks can be used in charcoal grills, but they will not offer any extra benefits.

On the other hand, if you own a gas grill, going the lava rocks route can be highly and diversely advantageous.

Either way, if you want to use lava rocks on your grill, the process is quite easy and straightforward.