Can you grill under a canopy tent?

Can you grill under a canopy tent?

The team at Canopy Tent Reviews risked their lives to bring you the answer to this puzzling question.

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There is no way that we are ever going to say that it is ok to grill under a canopy tent. There are certain things that you should always be cautious with, and fire is one of those things. I need to make it very clear that if you choose to operate an open flame under any type of synthetic material you risk damaging your equipment and yourself.

That being said, some members of the Canopy Tent Reviews team lack common sense and thought that it might be helpful to test this out so that our readers know what to expect if they choose to “play with fire”. We know that sometimes our readers may choose to accept risk, especially if it means staying dry, so we thought that it would be useful to document what actually happens if you ever choose to cook under a canopy tent. I hope that you can maintain composure while reading this post. If some parts of the article are too scary feel free to skip sections.

We took a charcoal grill and a turkey fryer out into our side yard and set up a 10 x 10 straight legged pop-up canopy tent over top of them. The shelter had a polyester canopy. It was a mild day and we grilled with lid off and fried the turkey with the turkey fryer lid closed. We cooked for about an hour. During that time there were no injuries and no serious equipment damage, but these are the risks we identified.

Damage to Self

Polyester, vinyl, and polyethylene are all made with plastic fibers. Whenever these fabrics come into contact with a strong heat source, they melt. All three materials can burn, but this isn’t as common as melting. Whenever the plastic fibers melt, they turn into liquid plastic. The most serious risk to grilling under a canopy tent is that melting or burning synthetic canopy fabric could fall onto a person under the tent. This can happen in two primary ways. First, the melting liquid plastic could condense into a droplet of liquid plastic and fall onto somebody. This could cause serious harm if it lands on a living thing or could start a fire if it lands on a flammable surface. The second risk is that the canopy would become damaged enough from the heat that the entire canopy would fall down. If this landed on a person, it could physically damage because the canopy would be laced with melted liquid plastic. The canopy could also ignite if it fell and landed onto the open flame of a grill. Both of these risks are very serious and should be a strong deterrent to ever operating an open flame under a canopy tent.

Damage to Equipment

As we talked about above, the flame can cause the most damage and can very easily melt the synthetic fabric of the canopy. But there are also two other factors that we didn’t originally consider that can also damage your canopy tent.

Damage from Smoke

While we were frying our turkey, wonderful smelling peanut oil steam was rising from our fryer making us all incredibly hungry. Smoke from the burgers was also rising, mixing with the turkey steam to create a delectable aroma. The problem was that all of this smoke was rising and getting stuck at the apex of the canopy. It wasn’t smoky under the tent, but we noticed a slight haze where the smoke was trapped. After we cooked, we found that the fabric of the canopy had stained. There was a slight yellow hue close to the top. The fabric smelled like peanut oil as well and when we went to tear down the shelter a few hours later, we found that bugs were attracted to the smell. Since our experiment, which was a few weeks ago, I have opened the roller bag that we packed the canopy tent into, and it still smells like a delicious peanut oil fried turkey.

Damage from the Flame

I had to use lighter fluid to light the charcoal and when I did this there was momentarily a large flame. While the flame was large a small ember rose into the air and made contact with the canopy. This immediately caused a small hole to form. You can see the hole in the picture below.

Hole in canopy tent fabric from burning ember

Damage from the Grease

When we first put the turkey into the turkey fryer, a little peanut oil bubbled out and some got onto the leg of the frame of the canopy tent. I was able to get this off with soap and water, but during the process I must have gotten some oil on my hand, and I touched the fabric. The oil soaked into the fabric and now that area has a slight shine to it, not matter how hard I try to clean it.

Overall, we highly discourage operating any flame under a canopy tent. You can hurt yourself and damage your equipment. If you do decide to cook under a canopy tent, choose an area that is far enough away from any surroundings that if the whole shelter caught fire, the flame wouldn’t spread. Always have a fire extinguisher nearby. If you are cooking and the canopy begins to melt or burn, get out from under the canopy immediately. Losing your canopy tent and a few burgers is much better than physical harm. If after all of this advice, you still decide you are going to risk it, make sure you understand that the smoke may discolor your canopy and give it an odor for the rest of its life. Also, don’t touch the canopy with your oily hands. Despite all of this advice, we know that a bunch of you are still going to throw your pop-up over your grill upon the first sign that you may get a little wet. For all of you daredevils out there, we say Godspeed!

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