What material is best for a Santa Maria – Argentine Style BBQ Grill?

We offer two material options, steel and stainless. Here’s some specifics about each material to help you make a decision about the material that’s best for you. I’ve found that most people make the ‘material decision’ based on cost, ease of care, and longevity. To clarify, any of the black grills you see on our website are steel (steel coated in high temperature paint) and any of the shiny silver grills are stainless (no coating needed), with the exception of grill grates which all appear silver in color whether steel or stainless ( You may also mix materials by selecting steel for the unit, but add a stainless grill grate upgrade. However if you select a stainless unit, the grill grate should always be stainless as well. So here we go…

Steel grills are the more affordable option, while stainless grills are a slightly more expensive investment. There’s reasons for that, which I’ll explain below. Keep in mind that steel is very suitable for many people and environments. Alternatively, stainless does require less care and lasts longer. Historically about half of our customers go with steel, and half decide to go with stainless. STEEL Steel is an alloy (combination of elements) composed of Iron and Carbon. The raw material is relatively inexpensive in comparison with stainless. It’s easily formed and a faster welding process, but it must be painted to protect it from oxidation/rust. All steel will eventually rust, but it can be delayed and serve a very long and useful life with proper care and maintenance. We use very thick materials. It would take years for a grill to be rendered useless from rust. If you’re looking to maximize longevity of your steel grill just follow our simple care instructions. For steel grills, we use an excellent quality, high temperature paint coating to preserve the steel material. The paint is rated to continues temperatures of 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, and 2000 degrees intermittent. That’s about how hot wood burns. It’s the most durable paint we’ve found for this purpose, and does a wonderful job at protecting the material. Steel is a great option. Paint breakdown may occur for a few reasons but can be mainly avoided. We include an aerosol of matching touch up paint with each purchase. Grills should be touched up with the first sign of paint breakdown. Most common causes of paint breakdown are exposure to long term moisture and fires that are too hot. Allowing a steel firebox to sit with water in it will cause paint breakdown over time. Water and ash mixture is acidic and very corrosive. This is easily avoided by keeping your grill dry, scooping out the ash after use, and storing the firebox with a lid, cover, tarp, or under an overhang if available. Exposure to certain conditions such as excessive moisture or sea/salt air will expedite the oxidation process. Stainless is the better option if that describes your living situation. A fire that is too hot will cause paint breakdown in the form of chipping/peeling. It’s not necessary to light a gigantic fire for cooking. It’s best to start with 3-4 split hardwood logs and add as needed. This allows for control of temperature and avoids overheating. STAINLESS Stainless is an alloy (combination) of Chromium, Nickel, and Carbon. We use only ‘304 Grade’ stainless. Stainless is an expensive material in comparison with steel. It takes more time and is harder to fabricate. It’s more difficult to form into shape, harder to drill and cut, and a longer welding and finishing process. All of these things make a stainless grill a more expensive investment. The most beneficial quality of stainless for our purpose is it’s natural property of corrosion/rust resistance. Under normal conditions the chromium in stainless will react with oxygen in the air and create a thin and very protective passive layer on the material. This reaction is the reason that stainless steel is such a rock star against corrosion and rust. During fabrication it’s necessary to physically change the shape of the material. Any time heat and friction is applied when the stainless is cut, ground, or welded, the chromium in those areas breaks down. This makes those areas susceptible to rust over time. We use processes called ‘TIG welding’ and then after it’s built called ‘passivation’ which are both essential to maintaining the rust resistant properties of the material. Many grill manufacturers advertise rust resistant stainless products, but actually sell stainless products that will rust over time because they do not follow this important process. (See our Blog post “Not All Stainless Grills Are Created Equal” for why this is so important). Overall stainless grills are our longest lasting option and require the least amount of care by you. Do the benefits outweigh the extra cost? Hopefully you have the information to make a decision that is right for you. GRILL GRATES Both steel and stainless grill grates are always left uncoated. Steel grates are cared for similar to cast iron cooking products, and must be seasoned to protect them from oxidation/rust. Stainless is naturally rust resistant. This makes the stainless grill grate easier to care for, but many people don’t mind spreading some oil on a steel grate. Both produce the same results while cooking. The difference is really just care. 

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