Gas grills have become a staple in backyards and outdoor kitchens across America, thanks to their convenience, speed, and consistent results. However, if you’ve ever purchased a gas grill, you might have noticed a small chain hanging from the side.
Many people are left wondering what this seemingly insignificant component is for. In this article, we’ll dive into the purpose of the chain on a gas grill and how it can enhance your grilling experience.
A Brief Overview
Before we delve into the chain’s function, let’s quickly cover the basics of gas grills. These popular machines use either propane (LP) or natural gas (NG) as their fuel source, depending on the model. A gas grill typically consists of the following components:
- Grill body: The main structure that houses the burners, cooking grates, and other internal components.
- Burners: Gas burners provide heat for cooking food.
- Cooking grates: Metal grates on which the food is placed for cooking.
- Ignition system: A mechanism to ignite the gas, usually either a push-button or electronic ignition.
- Control knobs: These allow you to adjust the flame and temperature of the grill.
- Grease management system: A tray or pan that collects grease and food particles during cooking for easy cleanup.
- Side shelves and storage: Additional space for food preparation and storage of grilling tools and accessories.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s focus on the mysterious chain and its purpose on a gas grill.
The Chain’s Purpose: A Matchstick Holder
The small chain you find on a gas grill is a matchstick holder, sometimes called a match-light extension. Its primary purpose is to help you manually ignite the grill if the primary ignition system fails. This seemingly minor detail can be a lifesaver in situations where the push-button or electronic ignition system malfunctions or the battery runs out.
To use the matchstick holder, simply insert a matchstick into the loop at the end of the chain. Then, light the match and carefully hold it near the burner you wish to ignite. Turn on the gas using the control knob, and the burner should ignite from the flame of the match. This process ensures that you can still fire up your grill even if the built-in ignition system is not functioning.
A Brief History of the Matchstick Holder
The matchstick holder has been a fixture on gas grills since the early days of their invention. Before electronic ignition systems became the norm, most gas grills relied on manual lighting methods, such as using a matchstick. While match lighting is less common today, many grill manufacturers continue to include a matchstick holder as a backup ignition method. This inclusion not only provides an extra layer of safety and convenience but also pays homage to the traditional roots of gas grilling.
Troubleshooting Your Gas Grill’s Ignition System
Before resorting to using the matchstick holder, you should try to identify the issue with your gas grill’s ignition system. Here are some common problems and solutions:
- Check the battery: If your grill has an electronic ignition system, it likely relies on a battery to create a spark. Ensure that the battery is not depleted and is inserted correctly. Replace it if necessary.
- Inspect the igniter: Examine the igniter for any signs of damage or corrosion. Clean it gently with a soft brush to remove any debris or buildup.
- Verify gas flow: Ensure that the propane tank valve is fully open and that there is an adequate supply of fuel.
- Examine the gas connections: Check the connections between the propane tank and the grill, as well as the connections between the burners and the control valves. Make sure there are no leaks, and tighten any loose connections.
- Clean the burners: Over time, grease and debris can accumulate on the burners, leading to ignition issues. Remove the burners and clean them with a soft brush, ensuring all burner holes are clear.
- Inspect the control knobs: Make sure the control knobs are functioning correctly and are not damaged or stuck.
If you have tried these troubleshooting steps and your ignition system is still not working, it’s time to use the matchstick holder to light your gas grill manually.
Safety Tips When Using the Matchstick Holder
While the matchstick holder is a convenient backup ignition method, it’s essential to prioritize safety when using it. Follow these tips to ensure a safe grilling experience:
- Turn off the gas: Before attempting to light the grill with the matchstick holder, make sure all control knobs are in the “off” position, and the propane tank valve is closed.
- Ventilate the grill: If you have tried to ignite the grill using the built-in ignition system and it failed, there might be gas buildup inside the grill. Open the grill lid and let it air out for a few minutes before using the matchstick holder.
- Keep a safe distance: When lighting the grill with the matchstick holder, maintain a safe distance between your hand and the burners to avoid burns or injuries.
- Turn on the gas slowly: Once the match is lit and held near the burner, open the control knob slowly to allow the gas to flow. This will prevent a sudden burst of flames.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby: As with any grilling experience, it’s always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergencies.
The Matchstick Holder in Modern Grills
While many modern gas grills still include a matchstick holder, some newer models have done away with this feature. These grills often have more advanced ignition systems, such as continuous spark ignitions, which are less likely to fail compared to traditional push-button or battery-powered igniters. However, even with these advancements, it’s still a good idea to keep a box of matches or a long lighter nearby as a backup.
Other Accessories to Enhance Your Grilling Experience
The matchstick holder is just one of many accessories designed to make grilling more convenient and enjoyable. Here are some other accessories you might want to consider adding to your grilling setup:
- A high-quality grill cover will protect your gas grill from the elements, ensuring it remains in top condition for many years.
- A grill brush with a long handle and sturdy bristles is essential for cleaning the grates after each use.
- Invest in a good set of grill tongs and a spatula for flipping and moving food items on the grill.
- A digital meat thermometer will help you accurately gauge the internal temperature of your food, ensuring it is cooked to perfection.
- A grill basket is a versatile accessory that allows you to cook smaller or more delicate items, such as vegetables and seafood, without them falling through the grill grates.
The chain on a gas grill is a humble yet essential feature that serves as a matchstick holder for manual ignition. This backup ignition method ensures you can still use your grill even if the primary ignition system fails.
While modern grills may have more advanced ignition systems, the matchstick holder remains a useful and practical addition. By understanding the purpose of the chain and following the safety tips provided, you can continue to enjoy a seamless cooking experience regardless of any ignition system issues.
Moreover, keeping an eye on the condition of your gas grill components and performing regular maintenance can help prevent ignition problems and extend the life of the unit. And with a wide range of accessories available, you can further enhance your outdoor cooking experience.