BBQ

The Truth About Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil for BBQ

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One of the most commonly used items in barbecue is foil. The foil in my pantry goes faster than a toupee in a hurricane. Faster than a receding mullet. Well, you get the point. And, do you know what’s more frustrating than your toupee flying off?

When the foil tears just as you are removing your low smoked barbecue from the pit and that precious juice spills all over your Mickey Mouse slippers. Or, maybe you’re a Star Wars fan wearing your prized Chewbacca Slippers. Do you know how hard it is to get brisket grease out of Chewbacca’s hair? Ugh! 😩

Ok, for all of you that only want to read the intro, the best foil for most people who spend a lot of time barbecuing is the 18’ x 500’ roll of heavy-duty foil you are already buying from Costco or Sam’s Club. Why? Because it’s about the same thickness as all other “heavy duty” foils, and it cost much less than buying foil online including from Amazon.

Sam’s Club Members Mark Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil in the 18” x 500’ roll was selling for around $22 at the time of writing this article. That same roll was selling for $32 on Amazon.com and right under $40 at Walmart.com. The large club stores seem to be the best place to purchase barbecue supplies in bulk like foil, plates, and pans if you’re trying to save money.

I Purchased Six of the Most Popular Foils on Amazon

Over $200 spent on five of the most popular heavy duty aluminum foils sold on Amazon.com, plus one from Costco. I am going to be super popular with my Area 51 friends.
Over $200 spent on five of the most popular heavy duty aluminum foils sold on Amazon.com, plus one from Costco. I am going to be super popular with my Area 51 friends.

I spent just over $200 purchasing the most popular and highly rated foil from Amazon.com. Four rolls I purchased were 18” wide x 500 linear feet, one roll was 18” wide x 25 linear feet and the last roll was 15” wide x 160 linear feet. I also have a roll of foil from Costco to compare, so we can find out how it stacks up against the Amazon offerings.

Here are the rolls of foil I purchased:

  • Reynolds Wrap Pitmaster’s Choice – 18” x 25’ – $8.49
  • Durable Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil 91805 – 18” x 500’ – $61.13
  • MNTLO Super Extra Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil – 15” x 160’ – $18.99
  • Rhino Aluminum Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil – 18” x 500’ – $43.95
  • Member Mark Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil – 18” x 500’ – $32.48 on Amazon.com and $22.88 at Sam’s Club
  • Kirkland Reynolds RK624 Foodservice Foil (Costco) – 18” x 500’ – $27.49

All sizes above are represented as width in inches by linear feet.

Please keep in mind that prices on Amazon.com fluctuate all the time. These are the prices we paid at the time we purchased the products in late 2020.

I Planned on Doing a Test

I had planned on testing foil for this review. Not only that, but I was going to call the “International Foil Agency of America” and interview their head scientist to find out what is the best way to do a foil comparison. I pictured a superhero on the end of the other line with a foil cape and a black mask. (a black mask over his eyes, not his mouth)

I was going to buy a digital micrometer that measured down to the .00005 resolution thickness, so I could determine how many microns each sheet was. This was so I could give readers a real scientific answer for the foil showdown.

Next, I would log the results in my foil calculator to determine Pi. Or is it Pie? That makes me think of Smoked Pecan Pie. Yum!

I also planned on doing a golf ball test where I would drop a golf ball onto a piece of foil pulled tightly. I would keep increasing the height of the drop until the golf ball broke through. What would it prove? Maybe the impact the foil can handle which would prevent accidental tears when barbecuing?

I can see it now. My Papillon dog Zipper would be flying all around the warehouse chasing golf balls. He is my barbecue dog. He comes over when I’m cooking and sits quietly as if the “boys are hanging out”. And, maybe he is expecting something to drop on the ground. Just saying.

Needless to say, foil testing was not required. At least not scientific testing. As I started opening all the foil boxes, it immediately became apparent which foil was thicker. It also became apparent that most heavy-duty foil is the same.

I Like to Make Foil Boats

When I season my briskets and ribs I usually lay out a large piece of foil about three feet long on the kitchen counter and turn up the ends about one inch to capture all the seasoning that goes flying everywhere. Lately, the foil has been tearing somewhere in the center therefore defeating the whole purpose of laying down foil to begin with. I end up with seasoning and meat juices all over the countertops.

We normally purchase our foil from Costco because that is where we shop. Recently, I have noticed the foil seems to tear more frequently. I am not doing anything different in my routine, so it leads me to believe the supplier has made the foil a tad thinner to save money. Frustration is what started me on this quest to find better barbecue foil. And to put it bluntly, I was let down. My plans were completely foiled (no pun intended. Ok, yes it was intended) by bogus claims and defective product.

Why 18” Wide Foil for Barbecue?

Eighteen inch wide foil is popular in the barbecue world because it is the perfect width to wrap large meats like brisket and pork butts. It is also the exact width you need to line a large baking sheet as it gives you just enough on the ends to wrap around the sides. This is why we chose this width and why it is so popular.

Many barbecue grill manufacturers will make their ash or drip pans about 18” wide, so a standard piece of foil can be used to line the area for easier cleanup. This makes for super easy removal of left over charcoal, ashes, and drippings from meat for easy clean up.

Deception in Labels on Aluminum Foil Boxes

All types of claims are made by manufacturers selling foil and most of them are bogus. Everyone says their foil is a certain percentage thicker or is rated for food service. You will hear the word “microns” or “mils” over and over. They will also tell you their foil won’t tear, and you try to do something basic like cover a baking sheet and the darn stuff tears like crazy.

The most overused word is “heavy duty”, which I feel, has been misrepresented. It seems “heavy duty” foil today is similar to “regular duty” foil of the past. To get “heavy duty” foil today, you have to purchase “extra heavy duty”. The next deception you need to be aware of is how they are calculating footage which we discuss in the next paragraph.

Square Feet vs Linear Feet on Foil Boxes

Don’t let manufacturers fool you with their marketing when you’re buying foil. The latest marketing trick is to put the square footage of the foil on the box instead of the actual linear footage. An 18” wide by 500 ft long box of foil is 750 square feet. Many manufacturers will post the square footage on a box which makes numbers look inflated.

Keep that in mind when shopping for foil, so you know you’re not overpaying. Foil can get expensive if you don’t watch what you’re doing. Especially if you spend a lot of time barbecuing, and you go through a lot of foil.

Let’s Break Down Each Aluminum Foil Brand

No, I don’t have the answer as to which aluminum foil would make the best hat for an Area 51 raid. But, I can give you my opinion on which foil I would purchase again. The quick answer is the Sam’s Club Members Mark foil, as it gives you the best bang for the buck.

Reynolds Wrap Pitmaster’s Choice Aluminum Foil

Reynolds Pitmasters Choice 37.5 Sq. Ft.
Reynolds Pitmasters Choice 37.5 Sq. Ft.

Let’s start out with the most obvious foil that has the word “Pitmaster’s Choice” on the side of the box. The Reynolds Pitmaster’s Choice foil sells for $8.49 for 18” wide x 25 linear feet.

If you were to purchase 20 rolls of this foil, so it would equal the 500 linear feet of foil you get with the other brands, it would cost you just under $170. If you barbecue a lot, and you are purchasing this box of foil, you might as well take a couple of hundred dollar bills and light them on fire. Hell, you could use them to get your charcoal chimney lit the next time you barbecue.

Reynolds claims on their website that this foil is extra thick for legendary barbecue and super strength, thick gauge foil to withstand heavy duty barbecuing. Wait a minute, you’re telling me that if I use this foil I will have super strength and be legendary? Wow, that sounds like something out of a “fiction” comic book. I’ll let you be the judge.

As far as their claims to the “super strength, thick gauge” foil, I did not find this foil to be any thicker than the heavy-duty foil you find at Costco or Sam’s Club. They are entitled to their opinion. Marketing is a beautiful thing.

This foil is a complete rip off for anyone who barbecues a lot and I do not recommend it.

Durable Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil Roll, 18″ Width x 500′ Length

This was the most expensive foil of the bunch. At the time of writing this, we paid $61.13 for the same size roll you can get for around $27 at Costco or $22 at Sam’s Club. Even though this roll was damaged, we pulled several sheets off to use for barbecue before we ended up sending it back.

The foil was not any thicker or better quality than what you buy at your discount club. The foil offerings on Amazon.com are very deceiving. There are so many brands that make outrageous claims about their foil being thicker, but you would never know unless you purchased several and put them side by side. So, that is what we did.

We ended up returning this foil because it was expensive, and it showed up damaged. The end of the foil was crimped as if someone had dropped it therefore preventing full sheets of foil from being dispensed. I tried repairing the end by gently cutting back the bad layers, but the damages were too deep causing every sheet to come off smaller than 18 inches wide. At $61 a roll, I wasn’t about to let this one sit on a shelf. That is a lot of money for a roll of foil that is equivalent in quality to a $22 roll you can get at Sam’s Club.

This foil is too expensive, not any thicker, and I do not recommend it.

The Extra Heavy Duty 15” x 160’ Aluminum Foil

This was the thickest foil out of all the products we tested in this roundup. They claimed their product was 30% thicker than regular heavy duty aluminum foil. That would be expected as this foil was labeled “Super Extra Heavy Duty”. On the Amazon listing, the brand was MNTLO. I am not sure what this refers to as the brand was not on the box. The packaging was very generic and non-branded.

This foil was $19 for 160 linear feet which comes out to around $60 for 500 linear feet of foil. That is around three times what you would pay for foil at your local discount club. Plus, this foil is only 15 inches wide which means it will not fully cover a baking sheet. When you barbecue a lot, you use a lot of baking sheets to take off large meats like slabs of ribs and large briskets.

I actually contacted this seller on Amazon.com to find out who manufacturers their foil and this was their response:

The thickness of the extra heavy duty is between 1.0mil to 1.2 mils. However, the supplier of our products is our business secret. This product is made in China.

While this foil was the thickest of the bunch, I would not recommend it for barbecue because it is not 18 inches wide, and it is expensive.

This foil is too expensive, the wrong size, and I do not recommend it for barbecue. But, if you are looking for thicker foil, then this is your answer.

Rhino Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil 18” x 500’

This 18” wide by 500’ roll of foil might have a slight edge over the Costco and Sam’s Club foils in thickness, but it is more expensive as well. We paid $43.95 for the roll which came with free shipping. When we first received the box, the black plastic dispenser inside was broken causing the roll to not spin. We contacted the seller, and they sent out another one, so we could use the foil.

The gentlemen I spoke with at OX Plastics who distribute this foil claims their Rhino foil is 25 microns thick which is supposed to be 5 microns thicker than standard foil. I will give him that. It does feel slightly thicker than the other heavy-duty foils, but I don’t know how many people will be willing to pay almost double over the Sam’s Club offering. The people I spoke with at OX Plastics were very nice.

This is a decent foil, but you are going to pay for it. It does feel a little thicker, but not by much. I will be sticking with the Members Mark Sam’s Club foil.

Kirkland and Members Mark Aluminum Foils

Costco and Sam’s Club both offer 18” wide by 500’ long rolls of heavy duty aluminum foil. Costco brands their roll under the “Kirkland” name and Sam’s Club brands their roll under the “Members Mark” name. They are both very similar foils and I would not be surprised if they are both made by Reynolds. Let’s face it. How many companies have the resources to make aluminum foil?

At the time of writing this, the Costco roll retailed around $27 and the Sam’s Club roll retailed around $22. That is about a 20% savings if you purchase the Sam’s Club Member Mark roll of aluminum foil. If you were to purchase the same Member Mark roll of foil off Amazon.com, you will pay around $31 per roll. This is almost $10 more than you would spend at Sam’s Club.

Be careful when shopping on Amazon.com. They have conditioned us using psychology to hit the buy button as soon as we see the blue “Prime” logo and the words “FREE Shipping”. There was a time when everything on Amazon was less expensive, and you didn’t have to pay sales tax, but those days are gone.

I would recommend the Sam’s Club Member Mark aluminum foil if you barbecue a lot. The box and cutter seemed to hold up better, and we had fewer tears when using the product. It is hard to beat the price and if you need thicker foil, just double it up. You will still be way ahead in cost savings when compared to other more expensive foils.

Western Plastics Aluminum Foil

I did a little research online looking for an American made aluminum foil. Western Plastics claims that their aluminum foil is made in the United States. I am not sure if this is for their standard foil only or their complete line up. Most foil today, including many of the options in this article, are all imported from China.

After researching the weight of an 18” x 500’ roll of heavy duty aluminum foil, I found most rolls came in around 10lbs. This is the case for the Western Plastics Heavy Duty roll as well.

They offer a Xtra Heavy Duty roll that comes in at 16.7lbs, which is significantly heavier, but at a cost of $120 per roll. There are options out there, but most backyard barbecuer’s will never touch this stuff. It is to cost prohibitive.

Foil Boxes Are Poor Quality

One of the biggest complaints you will read in reviews online is the foil boxes and cutters are poor quality. I experienced the same thing. Most of the boxes are really crappy which is not a good thing considering how heavy a 500-foot roll of foil is. The boxes and the metal cutter need to be able to hold up the entire life of the roll of foil. If not, you are going to be left with a useless roll of foil that is hard to dispense. Make sure the box is sturdy. It’s important.

The Member’s Mark roll of foil from Sam’s Club has a decent box and cutter which seems to hold up a little better than the other offerings. Bang for your buck, it’s hard to beat.

Aluminum Foil 101

If you are looking for great information about foil, here is a link below to the Western Plastics website that discusses aluminum foil in greater detail. I know, how boring. It might be useful for all those people walking around in tin foil hats. 👽

Aluminum Foil 101

Don’t Throw Out That Foil Just Yet

If you have aluminum foil that is not working for you, don’t throw it away. You can use it for other things when barbecuing. For instance, if you take a sheet of aluminum foil and scrunch it up in a ball, it works great as a grill grate cleaner. As you push down to scrub the grates, the foil will conform to the grates, and it does a grate job (yes, pun intended) at removing built up grease and gunk from previous cooks.

Another great use for foil is to lay down sheets on a baking sheet during the different stages of your cook. This works really well if your barbecue pit is far away from the kitchen. For example, lay down a sheet on a baking sheet to lay out the raw meat for seasoning. Walk that out to the pit and once you have removed the meat and put it on the grill, you can roll up the sheet of foil, and you now have a sanitary baking sheet. Once your meat is ready to come off the pit, you can lay down a new sheet or use the clean baking sheet. This prevents you from having to wash pans all day long.

We Are All Addicted to Amazon

Yes, we are all addicted to Amazon.com.

Amazon.com has spent years perfecting their online business model. They have trained all of us to click the “buy now” button as soon as we see the blue Prime Logo next to a product that has “good reviews”. The biggest deciding factor for most people when purchasing on Amazon is the review rating and as of late this has become unreliable. Occasionally, we don’t even know why we are making a purchase other than the fact it is super easy, and we feel we are getting a “deal”.

What most people don’t notice is they are paying a lot for this convenience. As I mentioned in this article, you can purchase the roll of heavy duty Members Mark aluminum foil at Sam’s Club for almost $10 cheaper than on Amazon.com. If you buy on Amazon, you are paying close to 50% more for foil over the course of a year. That can add up to a lot of money if you are frequently entertaining guests and serving your world-class slow smoked meats.

When was the last time you compared Amazon’s prices to a competitor? It’s probably something you did all the time in the past, but now we click the buy button immediately almost like a built-in response. We have all become the lab rats that keep going back to the sugar water. It is something to think about.

Conclusion

Normally, this is where a blogger would link to a foil on Amazon.com, so they can earn a commission every time someone makes a purchase. Or, they display a chart that shows the good, better, and best foil options which ultimately leads you to not decide on which to buy because choice is hard. That will not happen here. The reason is you can purchase the same quality foil cheaper at the discount club you already shop at. In some cases, the foil is one third the price.

If I linked to a foil on Amazon.com and told you it would be better than what you are already buying, I would be lying to you. That also begs the question: “Do I link to the $60 box of foil or the $40 box of foil?”. I would earn a larger commission linking to the $60 box, but would that be too obvious? I no longer have to worry about these questions because I am not a member of the Amazon Associates affiliate program, and it feels wonderful! You can read more about that here.

After using these foils for several months, I recommend purchasing the same “heavy duty” foil you have been buying from Costco or Sam’s Club. The foil there is equivalent to most options on Amazon.com, and it will save you money. If you find your foil is tearing, double up the sheets. Hell, you can triple the sheets, and it will still be cheaper than buying extra heavy-duty foil.

I would give the slight edge to the Member’s Mark brand from Sam’s Club due to the fact the box and cutter seem to hold up better under normal usage. I also had fewer tears in the foil with the Member’s Mark brand. But, keep in mind. They all tear, including the Extra Heavy Duty.

Most importantly when barbecuing, have fun. Slow life down a little by getting outside to cook your meats. Take in the smells of charcoal or wood burning. There is nothing better. Get away from your electronic devices and soak in the process of cooking food for your family.

Teach a youngster how to cook outside. Have them leave their phone inside while you show them how to light charcoal, season meat, and slice it to perfection after it comes off the pit. This is a life skill every kid should learn, so they can be self-sufficient. It’s also a memory they will never forget.

Hopefully, this article was a little entertaining and informative. What we learned was the foil industry suffers from the same bogus marketing like every other industry. I spent lots of money to find this out, and now I have enough foil to last me ten years. I guess if aliens ever invade, they won’t be able to suck the barbecue knowledge out of my brain thanks to the triple lined foil hat I will be wearing.

Celebrate Your Truth.

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