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New Grilling Accessory Tested

September 20, 2012

We here at ‘Fire Prevention Labs’ are constantly on the lookout for new products that may (or may not) make your life more fire safe . . . and then testing them out.  In today’s product review, we examine Bic’s new barbecue device FlameDisk.  These hit grocery store shelves recently.  So we bought one, read up on it and ran real-world tests.

Bic wants to make barbecuing less time consuming with the FlameDisk.  Traditional briquettes take time to get burning and settle down to an even heat for cooking.  Once you’re done, those briquettes continue to burn until they’re consumed and that may take hours.  Improperly disposed briquettes have caused structure fires in the past.  Bic’s product is ready to cook instantly.  When you’re done, it’s cool in a few moments.  This should make tailgating at a football game easier.

We dug into how it works.  It appears that Bic is using solid fuel similar to the canned heat used under fondue pots and chafing dishes by caterers.  The fuel is a combination of methyl and ethyl alcohols.  One FlameDisk fits a small kettle-style barbecue.  For larger barbecues, Bic recommends using two FlameDisks to get the amount of heat needed.  Bic advertises burn time for one FlameDisk to be 25-35 minutes.

We rounded up the office staff and barbecued lunch to test FlameDisk using a small kettle-style grill.  FlameDisk ignited quickly starting with a low flame.  Alcohol flames are difficult to see in daylight and you may get this lit without knowing it, so be careful.  If you have your hand in there trying to light something that is already burning, you may get burned.  We recommend using a long butane lighter.

Within a few seconds, the flame was easily visible.  FlameDisk produced a lot of heat fairly quickly, too much for the small barbecue we were using.  If the cook was not paying careful attention, burgers would be black on the outside and pink on the inside.  We grilled bacon for our burgers and that required constant attention.  It got so hot that our bacon was actually supporting combustion.  With proper diligence however, you can produce bacon cheese burgers that are more than acceptable to a hungry crowd (we had VERY few left when we were done, but we were feeding a paramedic too).

When we closed the lid on our kettle grill, the fire went out despite the air vents.  So this product needs lots of air flow to work.  At 30 minutes of grill time we noted distinct decrease in flame intensity.  FlameDisk lasted exactly the amount of time advertised.  Once it was out, it cooled down in a few minutes.  When cool to the touch, you can throw it away.

Bic’s product seems safe and easy to use.  When FlameDisk is out, there seems to be little danger of a fire later on, unlike briquettes.  Furthermore, once you light FlameDisk, it’s ready to cook immediately.  Additionally, you don’t need charcoal lighter fluid, and we like eliminating flammable liquids from cooking fires.  FlameDisk was a little hot and it was difficult to control the amount of heat output.  Perhaps larger barbecues handle heat control better.  On our grill we got full-on or nothing.  There was no in-between.  As long as the chef pays careful attention, this product could be useful.  As with ANY flame-producing device, you must exercise proper caution!

If you’ve got questions or advice from your use of the Bic FlameDisk, e-mail me at dbleeker@scfd9.org, or call me at 509-276-8863 or post your comment on this blog.

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