Some of the products reviewed here are country specific and may not be available in the Amazon US store
One of the things you often have to contend with, when doing a barbecue, is the heat of the charcoal. You have to put food on the hot grate and lift the food off for a start. But sometimes you also have to deal with the fire directly. This can mean anything from lifting off the food grate to actually the moving the hot coals around.
In fact moving the coals around is par for the course because the best way to start the fire is by piling the charcoal in the centre, but once the coals are glowing red hot, or covered in white ash, you need to spread them around on the brazier (coal bed) to ensure that the food cooks evenly.
The two important tools you’ll need to deal with these matters are a good pair of heat-resistant gloves and a good pair of charcoal tongs. In this comparison, we review five of each.
Revolutionary 932°F Extreme Heat Resistant EN407 Certified Gloves
This was an excellent pair of premium quality heat-protection gloves made of the same material as the protective wear used by fire-fighters and the military. That material is aramid fiber, more commonly known by its proprietary name of Kevlar®.
Strictly speaking, the material is not the pure para-aramid fiber worn by soldiers and police as body armour, giving five times the protection of steel, weight for weight. Instead the heat protection comes from meta-aramid fiber - the precursor stage to para-aramid - is flame resistant and offers unmatched heat protection, up to 932℉. However, there is also a layer of para-aramid for strength. Finally there is a cotton lining for comfort
With these gloves you can easily move hot racks and even hot coals. The gloves are designed to provide a good grip too, provided by the silicone strips on the palms and backs of the hands. There’s no big deal in having first-class heat resistance, if the tray slips from your grasp when you’re trying to move it
Another good thing about these gloves is that the extend up the wrist to ensure that an adequate area is protected. This is very important when moving grill grates and food racks. At the same time, the woven fibre allows the skin to breathe so you don’t end up sweating
The makers boast that these gloves can also be used for other things, like removing hot trays from indoor ovens or even changing hot light bulbs. We didn’t test for these things however. But for moving barbecue grill racks and hot coals there were perfect, so we must assume that they’d also be fine for those other tasks that the makers claim.
They are also reversible (i.e. ambidextrous) and when they get dirty, just throw them in the washing machine.
OUR VERDICT: Excellent heat-resistant gloves - overall best for purpose.
Heat Resistant Gloves & Free Grill Brush
We don’t recommend using the 16 inch grill brush - or indeed any brushes like this - to clean the grill (See Tips and Tricks - How to clean your grill rack. But we do recommend the gloves. Think of the brush as a free bonus that you might just use occasionally.
The gloves themselves are actually welding gloves made of thick and soft shoulder split natural cowhide leather. In a world of synthetic fibers, it’s nice to see that good old-fashioned natural materials still have a place.
The lining is made of cotton that is ideal for absorbing sweat. It also adds an extra layer of heat resistance. The fact that the gloves have an extra-long 7.5 inch sleeve, means that your forearms are also protected. Nothing could be worse that lifting out a grill rack and burning the inside forearm just above your wrist. It used to happen to us all the time, until we discovered long heat-protection gloves.
The gloves come with a 90 day conditional guarantee (i.e. will replace or refund at your discretion, if the gloves are defective).
These gloves are not machine washable and would have to be dry-cleaned, but aside from that, we can highly recommend them.
OUR VERDICT: Excellent gloves, losing out to top spot only because of their lack of machine washability.
TTLIFE 932°F Extreme Heat Resistant Gloves
These premium gloves from TTLIFE are guaranteed to protect your hands from burns up to temperatures up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit, albeit for only a few seconds. Made from Nomex and Kevlar® fibers, they are lined with cotton to absorb sweat and provide an extra layer of insulation. Of course, because they are a knitted construction to begin with, you won’t sweat as much as the leather gloves above. But still, the cotton does add an extra layer of comfort.
The gloves are machine washable, which is an added bonus, as using them around food and charcoal inevitably means that they will get dirty very quickly. They also provide a very good non-slip grip if you have to open jars or bottles for example. Another great benefit at barbecues.
As usual with “one size fits most” items, there are a few outliers who will find these gloves either too big or too small. But most people will find them in the Goldilocks zone.
OUR VERDICT: As good as the Revolutionary - and slightly cheaper!
GEEKHOM Kitchen Cooking Silicone Gloves
And now for something completely different. We’ve had aramid fiber and leather gloves. But these are silicone. Somewhat less heat resistant than aramid fiber (only up to 446℉) they have the advantage of also offering protection against cold, down to - 104℉. This might not seem like much of an advantage at a barbecue, but if those cans of lager have been in the fridge for too long, it could be useful. The downside is that you cannot pick up a hot charcoal with them - although they would protect you against very brief contact with a hot charcoal.
The outer layer is augmented by an inner layer of cotton for extra heat protection and sweat absorption.This makes the gloves comfortable to wear. The silicone also provides the best possible non-slip grip if you need to open jars of pickled cucumber or bottles of marinade.
Another advantage is that these gloves are waterproof. The big weakness of knitted heat-resistant gloves, is that once they get wet, all bets are off. Even if they get wet with cold water, once the water has permeated the fabric, it comes a heat conductor for heat from any other source, until they dry that is. With silicone, this does not apply, because it is waterproof. The fact that they are waterproof also means that they are dishwasher safe as well as machine washable and can also be hand-washed in the sink.
These gloves also have that very good feature of the extended cuff to protect the wrist and the area above it. There are even little fabric loops on the gloves so they can be hung on hooks when not in use.
They also come with a no-quibble, money-back guarantee.
OUR VERDICT: Best gloves for the kitchen - also very good for the barbecue.
Soyion 932°F Extreme Heat Resistant Gloves
Once again a pair of Nomex and Kevlar® gloves guaranteed to 932℉. Like the TTLife and Revolutionary (same spec) they have a cotton lining to absorb sweat and add an extra layer of protection. And like the others they have silicone strips for additional protection and added non-slip grip.
They also have the extra-long cuff, are ambidextrous and also follow the familiar one size fits most - but not all. And they are machine washable.
And again, they come with a money-back guarantee.
OUR VERDICT: As good as the Revolutionary and TTLife gloves.
Al fakher Premium Tongs for Barbecue and Hookah Shisha
Strictly speaking these tongs were not devised for barbecue use as such but rather for moving the hot charcoals used to evaporate water in a hookah pipe. Hence they are quite short (8 inches), making them of only limited use when it comes to moving hot charcoal about on a barbecue grill.
Having said that, they are very well-crafted, with a fine wood and aluminium construction - almost a work of art. So despite their limited practicality as a barbecue aid, it is hard to be completely dismissive of them. They also come in a nice presentation box.
If you are ready to use them carefully, and also wear a pair of heat resistant gloves, they could be used for a barbecue.
OUR VERDICT: Not very practical, but worth buying for the craftsmanship alone.
Charcoal Clamping Tongs
These tongs, from Tong Shuai Shi, are designed for picking up and moving hot charcoal. Made of 0.4 cm carbon steel, they are sturdy and durable. The shape is ideal for gripping both standard briquettes and randomly-shaped lumpwood charcoal.
We found the tongs easy to hold and the heat-resistant handle didn’t get hot in the course of normal usage. At 31 cm length, we had to hold them quite close to the heat, at times. But had they been longer, they would have been more awkward to control. Also, we found them easy to hold and use even when wearing heat-resistant gloves.
OUR VERDICT: Good charcoal tongs, but a little short for our liking.
RÖSLE 25036 Charcoal Tongs
At 50 cm, these were far better for handling charcoal than the two previous ones. This made it a lot easier to keep our hands away from the hot charcoal, which is especially important when not wearing heat-protection gloves. However, we found them easy to hold even when wearing gloves.
Unfortunately, the metal was not all that strong, having a tendency to bend a bit too easily. Also the shape of the tongs at the grip end was not all that good. We found that in practice,we had to hold the tongs from the middle to effectively pick up the charcoal. But that of course undoes the benefit of the tongs being 50 cm long!
The only we could effectively move coals with these tongs, while keeping he hands away from the charcoal and the heat, was to use them as a poker.
OUR VERDICT: Good in the length department but not good at gripping charcoal.
Now we finally come to a pair of charcoal tongs that didn’t disappoint in any of the key areas. Also 50 cm long, these charcoal tongs from Outdoorchef have serrated, turned-up edges and internal teeth to grip the charcoal. They are so good, and have such a firm, sharp grip, they can pick up several pieces of charcoal at once.
They also have triangular holes (where the internal teeth are) to allow ashes on the surface of the coal to fall through. So you’re moving just coal, not ash.
The tongs also have a one-hand-operation locking mechanism for closing them, although this is more useful for storing them than when actually using them.
OUR VERDICT: The best charcoal tongs we tried and definitely the ones we would recommend.
Weber Charcoal Pliers
Weber is the king of barbecue products. So it is natural to expect a lot from anything in their range of products. And these charcoal “pliers” do not disappoint. At 49.7 cm, these match the previous two in length. They are sturdy and strong and like the one above, they have teeth to grip the charcoal.
They are also slotted, to allow ash to fall through, and the part that grips the charcoal is curved to match the contours of briquettes which are used more commonly than lumpwood in the UK because of its convenience at lighting and heat distribution. That puts them at a disadvantage over the Outdoorchef pair above, albeit a very slight disadvantage.
Their one drawback is the price. They are (at the time of reviewing) effectively twice the price of the Outdoorchef tongs. If they had been twice the quality, we would have had no trouble in making them our main recommendation. But in fact the Outdoorchef tongs are better for lumpwood charcoal and these are only marginally better for briquettes. At this price, it is hard to recommend them over the Outdoorche tongs. But if you usually barbecue with briquettes and money is no obstacle, then this is the pair for you.
OUR VERDICT: The best tongs for charcoal briquettes and the second best all round.
In conclusion then, we would recommend that if you are serious about charcoal barbecuing, you buy both a good pair of heat-resistant gloves and a good pair of tongs.
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