Heatlie offers two different materials for the cooking plate on our BBQs and Island Gourmet Elites, mild steel and stainless steel. We happily offer both for a point of difference and a wider product range, but it is important that you understand the real benefits of a mild steel plate before dismissing it just because it is cheaper. The traditional stigma around stainless steel being better quality certainly has its merits, just not when it comes to cooking plates. So here is some handy information on mild steel that might have you thinking differently when you choose your Heatlie BBQ.
Why Purchase a Mild Steel Plate on your Heatlie BBQ?
Mild steel is an incredible conductor of heat. On a scientific level, mild steel has a less dense arrangement of molecules than most other metals that are used for BBQ plates, which allows heat to spread fast and evenly across the plate. This also means that mild steel is very easy to season, as it captures a lot of the flavours that foods leave behind, which in turn ends up protecting the plate from corrosion.
Seasoning your Mild Steel Hotplate
All Heatlie plates are shipped in the packaging with a coating of lanolin oil on the plate. This is simply protective to avoid issues as the BBQ is packaged and leaves the factory.
Before using your Heatlie mild steel hotplate for the first time you will need to remove this lanolin coating by washing the plate with warm soapy water until you are no longer able to feel the sticky lanolin on your fingers when you touch the BBQ plate. Rinse with clean water then cover with a light coating of cooking oil. Heat for 5 minutes (no longer), wipe off this layer of oil with a paper towel. Reapply another layer of oil and you are ready to cook.
Discolouration of your Mild Steel Hotplate
Discolouration of a Heatlie mild steel hotplate is normal. As you continue to cook on it over and over again, the fats, juices and marinades from your food will bake onto the plate, forming a slick, black coating. Once this seasoning has reached its ideal coverage and consistency, your Heatlie is operating at peak BBQing standards. The pictures below show the drastic difference between an older, well-used plate, compared to a brand new one.
It's important to understand that the plate does not need to be shiny and metallic in appearance to be 'clean'. These layers of baked-on marinades, juices and fats will become extremely difficult to clean off, and for good reason. They form the plate's non-stick coating, and also protect the metal from rust and corrosion.
Well seasoned plate
Brand new plate
How to Clean your Mild Steel Hotplate
Heatlie recommends you scrape your mild steel hotplate clean with a wallpaper scraper or heavy-duty spatula after each use. We DO NOT recommend scrubbing down after each use to make the plate shiny as the fat or oil residue protects the plate against corrosion. All you need to do is remove loose debris and scraps of food to avoid attracting pests. Similar to a wok, or a cast iron pan, you need to leave the residual oils, fat, juices and marinades on there to protect the plate.
My Plate is Rusty, What Do I Do?
If a mild steel plate is not cared for adequately through proper seasoning and cleaning, rust can occur. However, this is not the end of your plate. Rust can simply be scraped off, and once done, you should reapply several layers of oil to re-season the plate.
My Plate is Flaking, What's Wrong?
It is not your plate that is flaking, it's the seasoning. Sometimes bits of the seasoning layer will dry up and start to flake. This is normal, just get a scraper and scrape down a layer, then reapply and reason with oil.
Benefits of Mild Steel Hotplate
- Excellent heat conduction for even heat spread
- Once fully seasoned, provides the best cooking surface possible
- Durable and easy to maintain
See our video below of restoring an old, rusty mild steel hot plate through scraping, cleaning and reasoning.