Why Don’t Gas Grills Use Lava Rocks Anymore – Detailed Guide 2021

If we ponder to get a great BBQ taste from the food then smoking it thoroughly is the first thing that comes to the mind. Grilling prefers extra smoke for the traditional flavor in the food. So gas grills use lava rocks that produce extra smoke when fat drips on it then the question arises is why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore.

No doubt! Lava rocks produce delicious flavors with even cooking heat. They are beneficial and long used in the times but with the increased technology they are replaced by others.

Issues Lava Rock Grills Face

Why Don't Gas Grills Use Lava Rocks Anymore
Why Don’t Gas Grills Use Lava Rocks Anymore

Heavy smoke: 

When the fat from the meat falls on the lava rocks they start to smoke intensely. It is because the lava rocks are the porous rocks. This is the con of using the lava rocks because grease dripping on the rocks can over smoke the meat that can ruin the flavor. Instead of getting a deliciously grilled BBQ you will get charred food which can also cause cancer risks. 

Lead to food poisoning:

The last thing you could possibly expect from your food is to be poisonous. When you use lava rocks for a few times, you will have to replace them because the fat that drips can accumulate in the rocks and produce harmful bacteria. Previous food fat can also give  off the unpleasant smell as well as taste to your meat. This can eventually end in disturbing the health by causing food poisoning. 

Heat distribution: 

Another disadvantage of using lava rocks in gas grills is the heat distribution. Definitely lava rocks were used for even heat distribution in the grills but it is noticed that lava rocks prevent even heat distribution on the grilling surface. For even distribution it is important to clean the lava rocks regularly. It seems to be simple because lava rocks are easy to clean by boiling, using detergents and can be reused but it often requires cleaning. After 3 to 4 times cleaning you will be fed up and most people forget to clean them which causes trouble. 

Why Does Gas Grills Use Lava Rocks Before?

As gas grills are dominant grills in the community that are preferable by people for easy use than the other grills. Now gas grills are used a lot in the homes but there are some drawbacks of using the gas grills due to which lava rocks were used and still people use them. Some of the reasons are mentioned below. 

Even heat distribution and retention:

Using the lava rocks in gas grills is beneficial but it is troublesome at some points. Gas grills are easy to use and require less energy. They use direct energy so heat is not distributed evenly and causes hotspots on the meat by uneven cooking. Lava rock Grills were introduced to fix the problem. They provided the even heat distribution all over the grill and prevented the food from hot spots. 

The food cooks properly because of the presence of lava rocks. These rocks retain heat for a long period of time.

Quick food preparation: 

As lava rocks distribute the heat all over the grill and heat it up completely then it means it will be easy to cook food instantly. The cooking surface becomes entirely hot which gives a proper space for you to cook within no time. 

Lava rocks provide even cooking with proven heat retention and cooks the food quickly.

Smoke production: 

Smoke production is the most important aspect of grilling. Gas grills are not that efficient to produce smoky flavor to the foods. Lava rocks are used to produce intense smoke which gives food a good flavor like charcoal. 

But in cooking the meat, a specific amount of smoke is required. Lava rocks produce excess smoke that is the reason why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore.

How Lava Rocks Are Used In Gas Grills

How Lava Rocks Are Used In Gas Grills
How Lava Rocks Are Used In Gas Grills

It’s a breeze to use lava rocks. All you need to do is turn them on when they are in the right place. Still people use lava rocks due to their less cost and high heat capability. Let’s step into how lava rocks work! 

  • Preheat the rocks for 15-20 minutes through which these lava rocks heat up properly. 
  • When the rocks are preheated then place the food on the rocks directly.
  • Let the rocks get hot, when you place the food on them you will hear the seating sound. If you won’t hear the sound, remove the food and let them heat up completely. 
  • Give the lava rocks some air to heat up, if you won’t give them space to breathe then you will face problems with them. 
  •  If you want to sear the food from both sides then flipping is required otherwise you can set it and forget it. 
  • You can turn off the flames at any time while cooking because the heated stones will cook the food but if you feel a lot drop in grilling temperature then you can turn on the flames whenever you need. 

What Replaced Lava Rocks – Better option 

As it is discussed earlier that lava rocks are no longer used in gas grills then there must be a better option to be used in gas grills. There is a new material that replaced the lava rocks used in gas grills now. 

Ceramic briquettes are highly preferable to be used in gas grills. They are popular and made up of high quality ceramics that distributes the heat evenly and retains heat properly within the gas grill. 

Ceramic briquettes are a fuel saver because they help reduce gas consumption and they spread heat evenly all over the grill. They provided a good food flavor similar to lava rocks but with extra benefits and less risks. 

The one of the biggest reasons ceramic briquettes made their place in the market is because of their long lasting nature. They can last longer than 5-7 years. Even lava rocks do not last that long. 

It’s a lot easier to clean these ceramics. All you need to do is brush off all the debris from them.

Why Are Ceramic Briquettes Better Than Lava Rocks?

The most important thing to focus on is that lava rocks have been used for a long period of time and now it is replaced by ceramic briquette. It must be because ceramic briquettes are more beneficial than lava rocks. These are the reasons why ceramic briquette are more beneficial.

  • Don’t retain fat– due to presence of some good materials, they don’t retain fats like lava rocks.
  • Prevent flare ups– Ceramic briquettes hold heat longer and prevent the flare up as well as dripping. They do not create extra mess like lava rocks.
  • Heat absorption– After lighting the Ceramic briquettes, they absorb a lot of the heat. You can cook on the turned off gas grill if you want by letting the briquettes lit. This saves your fuel.
  • Better reuse– you can reuse the Ceramic briquettes more easily than lava rocks. The high quality ceramics used in it doesn’t require frequent cleaning and decreases the risks of food poisoning.

Final Verdict: Why Don’t Gas Grills Use Lava Rocks Anymore

Lava rocks were used in gas grills because gas grills had the problem to manage the proper heat distribution. With the increasing time technology ceramic briquettes replaced lava rocks because of the several risk factors.

In this page you have learned all about the lava rocks and got the answer to why don’t gas grills use lava rocks anymore. In simple words, lava rocks could cause food poisoning, burn the food and are tough to clean every time. 

If you still use lava rocks then make sure to clean them properly to avoid any of the health concerns that they can spread. Flare ups from the dripping fat can burn your food. It’s actually better to use ceramic briquettes 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do they still make gas grills with lava rocks?

They do, if you’re really looking for them.  That is because some people swear by the cooking performance of lava rocks.  So you can find lava rocks in some barbecue stores.  There are some popular brands among them, like Weber.  However, you may need to order them separately.  Lava rocks are often not included in the barbecues, so you may need to buy them, especially if you do not have the original packaging.  Lava rocks are usually sold in packs of 20.  If you want to try them out, you may want to buy a couple of packs to see how you like them.  If you find that you like them, then go ahead and buy more, because most people find that they need to replace their lava rocks every few years.

Does gas grills need lava rocks?

No. You can use lava rocks or ceramic briquettes in a gas grill. The problem is that lava rocks produce a lot of smoke and a very uneven heat. They also have a tendency to crumble and leave a messy grill. So you should avoid lava rocks altogether.

What’s better lava rock or ceramic briquettes?

Ceramic briquettes on average use less char than lava rocks on average. That’s an interesting statistic on its own. But the real difference is the rate of thermal mass to overall volume. This makes ceramic briquettes more versatile than lava rocks. The more thermal mass you have, the more of an impact changing your burn rate has. The slower you burn, the more of an impact the mass has. The more mass you have, the longer it takes for it to heat up, but the longer it stays hot after you turn it off. Those are the primary differences.


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Kathy Jeffery
By Kathy Jeffery

Kathy learned to cook early on in life because she had to feed the ranch hands! Kathy is a mama of 2 boys and dreams of having a vegetable garden one day.


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