:| We had a freak grilling accident come to the hospital last week. A Guy had scraped his grill with an old brass bristle brush, evidently he failed to wipe down grill with oil and paper towel. One of the tines from the old brush had broken off and become one with his food. The tine became lodged in his throat, narrowly missing his carotid artery. He had to have a full neck dissection to remove tine! Freak grilling accident but PSA for keeping your grill surface clean and using good equipment.
Apparently there are hundreds of cases each year admitted to emergency wards like this. These don't just involve brass bristles stuck in peoples throats but also in their stomachs and intestines. Some cases are apparently fatal as well.
I have a couple more points to add here:
1) Use Steven's grill scraper first. It gets off the heavy baked-on bits first so you don't have to brush as much. And if the grate is bare of oil, then oil it first and this eliminates all chances of scraping off iron filings too.http://www.grilling4all.com/sm8818.html
The funny thing is that when I originally saw this tool I thought it was a bit gimmicky. But after I used it on both the wire grates on my little Weber Smokey Joe Platinum as well as the big CI grates on my Outlaw, it actually became the #1 tool in my grill-cleaning toolkit.
2) Get a decent brush. Those little dollar-store or other el-cheapo grill brushes melt and lose their bristles way too easily. For example, my father bought 3 for $5 and thought they were a great deal until they melted on the first cleaning and left bristles all over the grill.
Now, I don't have Steven's monster grill brush (yet) but it's a great brush - I've used one. Currently I use a $20 grill brush with high-heat removable brushes. As soon as one brush head starts showing signs of wear I pop it out and pop in a new one.
Now I don't have a link to this grill brush but it's got a black handle with red brush inserts. The only other thing I'd suggest is to keep buying and trying grill brushes until you find a really good one, then stock up.
Oh - and don 't use stainless brushes on CI or porcelain grill grates - use brass ones and save the SS brushes for SS grates. Stsainless stell is too hard for CI as it cuts right through the seasoning, and way too hard for porcelain-coated (it cuts through the coating and that coating then flakes off (and gets in your food!).
The last bit is something I have painful experience with. I had a relative who used a SS brush on his porcelain grates. It etched the coating, which later flaked off. I wound up getting a 2-inch spike of porcelain stuck in my gums after eating one of his steaks. No permanent damage but it really ruined the cookout.