Ah, the smell of grilled grub: Summer wouldn't be summer without barbecues. We all have our favorite ways of grilling: using wood, tossing meat on the George Foreman or the gas, electric or charcoal grill. But of the latter three, which is the most eco-friendly?
And the winner is ... electric. While they are largely powered by fossil fuels, these grills release 99 percent less carbon monoxide and 91 percent less carbon dioxide than charcoal ones. Gas is next in line, in that it burns cleaner than other fossil fuels. Even though most folks prefer its food-flavoring capabilities, charcoal is wayyyyy down on the list; it produces more carbon monoxide, particulate matter and soot than any other grilling method.
If you prefer charcoal, try natural briquettes instead. Charcoal made with sodium nitrate, coal dust and other additives releases toxic fumes that may seep into your steaks and kebabs.
Also avoid using lighter fluid and self-lighting charcoal. Instead, try using chimney or electric charcoal starters. Both devices get the grill ready to use in half the time—about 15 minutes.
If you're into trying new methods of grilling, there is reportedly a greener alternative to gas, electric and charcoal. The uGO FlameDisk is a circular tin disk containing ethanol and very little methanol. It works by being placed into an open grill, taking the top off and then lighting a hole on top. After four minutes, you're good to go. A three-disk pack goes for around $15 at various hardware stores. If you'd rather click and buy, you can order it online at www.ugogrill.com.