Get Up in Your Grill (and Clean It!)

When it comes to spring cleaning, I’m a little… lazy (there, I said it). I’m more likely to do the bare minimum than any sort of deep dive. I know the outdoor grill has been sitting there, unused, ALL WINTER, but do I really need to clean it before firing it back up again?  It’s all heat and flame, the dirt and bad stuff just burns away! And what doesn’t burn away only adds to the flavour! Right?

If you are an outdoor cuisine aficionado, or a safety-conscious grown-up, you may be shaking your head sadly at me. That’s because you already know what I learned recently: a proper spring cleaning and inspection is essential for keeping safe, preserving taste, and protecting the life of your grill.

Father and son grilling over an outdoor barbeque

If you’re new to BBQing (or, like me, new to cleaning one), the best place to start is by consulting the care and maintenance section of your manufacturer’s manual for how to clean your particular model.

Be warned: cleaning your grill can get messy. Try and set aside a dedicated time that’s not an hour before the backyard birthday party you’re hosting (when you’ve already changed into your good shorts). Get all the supplies on hand before you start. Laying down a drop cloth or tarp over your nice deck isn’t a bad idea either.

Depending on your grill, you’ll need:

  • A scraper - preferably one of those solid wood ones designed especially for BBQ grates - metal bristle brushes can cause serious health issues!
  • A big bucket of warm and soapy water (dish soap), and some clean water for rinsing (or a nearby hose)
  • Something for washing down your grates, like a tough sponge or sturdy brush
  • Another scraping tool like a spatula (for the grill’s interior) and something to scoop out debris
  • A paperclip or small tool
  • Cleaning product for stainless steel
  • Some clean, dry rags or paper towel
  • A hand-held vacuum or hose attachment
  • Vegetable oil or shortening to season your grates

The areas you want to cover in your cleaning are:

Grates: Scrape any build-up off the tops with your scraping tool, and check the undersides for grease deposits. Lift them out and soak them in the bucket of soapy water then scrub them down. (If they are the porcelain-coated kind, don’t soak, just wash and dry). Rinse and wipe the grates down, and put them aside to dry completely. 

While your grates are drying, you can move onto the:

Burners (gas grills): Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for the removal and reattachment of the burners and heat tents. Scrape off any junk and debris and give them a once over to make sure no burner holes are clogged - you can use a paper clip or small tool to clear them. If your grill doesn’t have a spider guard (many older grills do not), you can clean the burners and burner tubes with a venturi pipe brush or wire.

Interior: While your burners are removed, scrape down the sides and bottom of your grill, scoop out any debris, and wipe down the inside of the lid. Empty the ash catcher (charcoal grills) and your grill’s catch pans. Wash them out in soapy water and replace the aluminum foil if you’ve lined your catchers. A quick vacuum will clear out any spider webs or dried leaves in and around your grill and the connection to your propane tank.

Once your grates are completely dry, rub them down with a little bit of vegetable oil or shortening and place them back in.

Exterior: For stainless steel exteriors, use a dedicated stainless-steel cleaner and sponge to get the best, gleaming result. Use soapy water on the side surfaces, and anywhere else, and dry completely with clean rags.

Inspect your fuel hose and connections for rot, kinks or leaks, and tighten any loose bolts in and around your grill. Check the ignition wires and batteries (if you have an electric ignition). Fire up your grill, one burner at a time, and make sure it’s all running smoothly (or light it up and let it burn for 10 minutes or so before putting any food on).

Once your grill is clean and ready for action, be sure you’ve got enough fuel for the next long weekend! Stock up with an extra 16lb/8kg tank at your local Petro-Canada and avoid that mid-cookout panic when you run out of propane. You can easily exchange your empty tank for a full, certified propane tank, or buy a new one at one of our locations. And for folks who are Petro-Points members (and if you’re not, why not?), you can get 3x the Petro-Points when you exchange or purchase a propane tank at any participating Petro-Canada location – offer ends August 8, 2022.

For further advice on grill safety and maintenance, including how to use soapy water to check your tubes and connections for leaks, check out these guidelines.

Steaks? Corn on the cob? Hot dogs? Veggie kabobs? What are you most looking forward to throwing on your outdoor grill? Let us know in the comments section and have a great grilling season!

~  Paul D.

Acknowledging Canada’s National Crisis of Missing, Murdered and Exploited Indigenous People

This article deals with topics which may negatively impact the reader due to its subject matter. We recognize the need for safety measures to minimize the risks associated with traumatic subject matter. For immediate emotional assistance, please call 1-844-413-6649. This is a national, toll-free 24/7 crisis call line providing support for anyone who requires emotional assistance related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. For additional support, please see the resources available to you on the Indigenous Services Canada website.

Here on PumpTalk, we’ve spoken about Suncor’s Journey to Reconciliation, including Petro-Canada’s role as a Suncor business. We hope that through this ongoing learning process, we can build the trust and support of Indigenous Peoples in the communities in which we operate as well as from our partners and our employees.

Red Dress Day - National Day of Awareness for Missing, Murdered and Exploited Indigenous people (MMEIP) in Canada

One way we do this is by partnering with Indigenous businesses and communities.  We are proud to have 60 retail and wholesale marketing arrangements with Indigenous communities across Canada. Sites like on the Siksika First Nation where we created a stop along Canada’s Electric Highway – our EV Fast Chargers were the first installed on a First Nation in Canada. Or like our sites located on the Mistawasis First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, and the Cold Lake First Nations in northern Alberta.

We also support Indigenous artists across Canada. We’ve commissioned Indigenous artists in communities across Canada to create murals on the side of stations in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Kamloops. Two of them were completed last fall - Connected by Keegan Starlight in Calgary and Our Children by Jessey Pacho in Toronto. The other four will be finished this summer. Another project working with Indigenous artists will be announced in June.

In addition to supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs and artists, we believe that it is essential to acknowledge and educate ourselves and our employees about the historical and ongoing negative impacts of colonization endured by Indigenous communities, including the national crisis of Missing, Murdered and Exploited Indigenous people.

The number of missing and murdered Indigenous people in Canada is disproportionately high compared to the general population. The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) research indicates that, between 2000 and 2008, Indigenous women and girls represented approximately 10% of all female homicides in Canada. However, Indigenous women make up only 3% of the female population.

From 2016 through 2019, the Government of Canada convened a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The National Inquiry’s Final Report concluded that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people. The report calls for transformative legal and social changes to resolve the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across the country.

May 5th, also known as Red Dress Day, is the National Day of Awareness for Missing, Murdered and Exploited Indigenous people (MMEIP) in Canada. It was started as “an aesthetic response to more than 1000 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada” by Jaime Black, a multidisciplinary artist of mixed Anishinaabe and Finnish descent.

To help Canadians learn more about missing, murdered and exploited Indigenous people in Canada, the NWAC has created – a website that hosts a national database of MMIWG2S cases as well as training materials about breaking the cycle of violence. In particular, the site contains resources for the hospitality and trucking industries – two industries uniquely positioned to make a difference in the reduction of violence against Indigenous women and girls. NWAC, in partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking, provides training about human trafficking in Canada and teaches how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.

Petro-Canada hosted a presentation at our most recent in-person Wholesale Conference from an international crime prevention specialist about how to recognize and respond to suspected incidents of human trafficking, particularly for our sites that are located along known trafficking routes. The NWAC also provides a fact sheet about signs of trafficking and what to do.

Addressing our national crisis of missing, murdered and exploited Indigenous people can seem overwhelming. But we all have a responsibility to try to take action. This article from Haley Lewis, a Kanyen'keha:ka-Scottish writer, shares five ways that Canadians can put the calls for justice from the national MMIWG report into action:

  1. Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people
  2. Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area
  3. Develop knowledge and read the final report and calls to justice
  4. Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally
  5. Help hold all governments accountable to act on the calls for justice

Lewis goes into detail on each actionable item and recommends this excellent “Indigenous Ally Toolkit” from the Montreal Indigenous Community Network (aka “The NETWORK”), an organization that supports the ecosystem of individuals and groups committed to improving the quality of life of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities living in the greater Montreal area.

Another resource I found particularly helpful, especially around educating myself on the history of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples is First Nations 101 by Lynda Gray, a member of the Ts’msyen Nation from Lax Kw’alaams on the Northwest Coast of BC.  First Nations 101 provides “a broad overview of the day-to-day lives of Indigenous people, traditional Indigenous communities, colonial interventions used in an attempt to assimilate Indigenous people into mainstream society, the impacts those interventions had on Indigenous families and communities, and how Indigenous people are working towards holistic health and wellness today.”

Hearing the stories from Indigenous families about the loss of their loved ones has also increased my empathy and my desire to take action about MMEIP. Suncor employee, Deb Green, has given us permission to share the story of losing her sister, Laney, and the impact it has had on her.

As Suncor continues on its Journey to Reconciliation, we’ll continue to share stories from our Indigenous colleagues and partners. We’d love to hear from you about your own journey of reconciliation. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

~Kate T.

May is Motorcycle Safety Month: Let’s Watch Out for Each Other

Ah, the sounds of spring: birds singing… and engines revving. 

There is nothing like that feeling of hitting the open road in the springtime. Windows down and music playing, it’s a good time to be driving. I live on a main street, and at this time of year certain car owners gleefully make their presence known. After a long winter of being bundled up, and careful driving through wintery conditions, the temptation to “let her rip'' is hard to resist.

For Canadian motorcyclists, spring has a whole other significance. It’s when many of them get their bikes back out on the road.  I can only imagine how exhilarating that first ride of the season must be. For the rest of us motorists, it can be a bit of a surprise after not seeing them for months, and suddenly a motorcycle appears in our side or rear view mirror (is that a car with a burnt out headlight behind me?). It’s fitting then, that May is Motorcycle Safety Month in Canada and the US.

Motorcycle Safety Month - Watch Out for Each Other

Once again, this year’s campaign by the Motorcycle Confederation of Canada is to Watch Out for Each Other, encouraging motorists to be on the look out for motorcyclists, and motorcyclists to return the favour. That way, we can all stay safe! For motorists looking to do our part, here’s some tips to consider:

  • Check your mirrors and blind spots for motorcyclists, and be sure to signal before changing lanes.
  • Motorcyclists are entitled to a full lane, just like any other vehicle. Don’t crowd them or try to share a lane with them on the road or at intersections.
  • Motorcycles often aren’t equipped with self-cancelling turn signals, and riders sometimes forget to turn them off, so make sure that bike is actually turning before you make a move.
  • Allow more follow distance when behind a motorcycle, to allow more time and space to react in the case of an emergency stop (for both of you!)

And for our motorcyclist friends:

So let’s watch out for each other! With a little extra care we can make sure we’re all enjoying being on the road this season, and all year long.

Wishing motorcyclists and motorists across the country a happy spring and safe driving!

~  Paul D.