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Review: Wicked Good vs. Rockwood... long post with lotsa pics, so grab a beverage.

calikingcaliking Posts: 5,291
edited December 2013 in EggHead Forum
I recently organized a Rockwood group buy for some Houston eggheads. The guy (J) who offered the use of his dock and warehouse, recently bought a few pallets (I think) of WG and has sold it locally. I made contact with him some time ago on another forum that I follow, and when I posted about the Rockwood group buy, he was interested. He asked that I compare the Rockwood with WG, which he provided gratis. I declined at first, but he made the point that his job as a distributor was to shield the consumer from the supply-side drama. Plus he was gracious enough to let us use his dock and warehouse without even once asking for any special concessions. So, I swallowed my pride to honor a gentleman's request.

These tests are not as scientific as the The Naked Whiz's tests, but I tried to be as objective as I could be. I did not empty out the bags and sort according to size, but The Naked Whiz has done that, so you could refer to his site for more detailed info about the size of pieces. 

The apparatus used was the same for both tests - Small BGE,(cleaned out), a few pie pans (all identical), OXO kitchen scale, empty yogurt carton for weighing. Holes were made in 2 pie pans, stacked together, with the same tool, in the same pattern, to provide air flow to the lump in the pans. Weights of the lump before burning were measured after taring the weight of the yogurt carton. Ambient temps stated were according to my phone's weather app. Time points listed are the time elapsed after lighting, and the temp measured at the pie pan on the grid, placed at the level of the firering (i.e. not raised). The grid level temp was measured by pointing an IR thermo at the center of the grid level pie pan, through the top vent, without opening the lid. The burn tests were conducted with the top and bottom vents fully open, no DFMT, with the mesh screen in place. The lump was lit using 1 Weber starter cube placed in the pie pan, with the lump on top of it. All temps are in degrees Fahrenheit. Both test burns were concluded 4hrs after lighting. These tests were started with an egg that had cooled overnight, and was at ambient temp. Storage conditions for the lump were identical - fresh unopened bags, kept in my garage. 

Pan for lump, with holes for air flow:
image

Grid level pan, temps measured during the burn with an IR thermo through the top vent without opening the lid:
image



Wicked Good
Ambient temp= 52°F at the time of lighting (1414 hrs)
Weight of lump= 506g
Weight of ash= 86g
Comments= Some smoke at lighting, scant smoke at 15mins. Little aroma/odor at lighting. 

image

View of the opened bag,  Thermapen for size reference. 
image

image

Fire! The pieces used were the first that came to hand form the top of the bag. They seemed on the larger side, since I needed fewer pieces to get to the goal weight of ~500g.
image

The test was stopped at 4hrs form lighting. This is what the dome thermo read.
image

I let the egg cool overnight, then weighed the ash the following day. After the burn, there was some kind of brown residue on the internal ceramics.
image

What was left after the burn.  The black pieces look like unburnt lump,  but it was mostly ash.  There were a few marble-sized pieces of unburnt lump noticed when I threw the ash away. Almost all of the ash was contained in the pie pan,  maybe a tablespoon of ash fell into the egg during the burn. 
image
image



Rockwood:
Ambient temp= 50°F at the time of lighting (1209 hrs)
Weight of lump= 505g
Weight of ash= 86g
Comments= Little smoke at lighting, no smoke at 6mins. Slightly more  aroma/odor at lighting than WG
image

The pieces of Rockwood seemed overall smaller than the WG I had to play some lump charcoal jenga to get enough pieces to make the goal weight.
image

image

Fire again! It looked like I had more lump for the given weight i.e. a larger volume. This suggests that Rockwood may be less dense than WG.
image

The test was stopped at 4hrs form lighting. This is what the dome thermo read.
image

The egg and ashes cooled overnight. I weighed the ashes the following day. No additional brown residue after the Rockwood burn.
image

image

There were maybe 2 tablespoons of ash left in the egg from the burn. There were a few pieces of marble-sized lump left in the pan, probably equivalent to the WG remnants. 
image

More ash was left in the egg after the Rockwood burn because it burned hot enough to burn a big hole in the pie pan. The WG pan had been intact after the burn.
image


Temperature graphs (DT= dome temp, GT= grid temp). I don't know how to post the excel graphs, so i took a pic with my phone. I hope they are legible enough. 
image

image

Closing comments: The Rockwood came up to temp faster, burned hotter for an equivalent amount of time than the WG. The burn time was equivalent. Rockwood also smoked for significantly less time than WG.  Rockwood produced marginally more ash. 

My thoughts: I have cooked a few times with Rockwood now, and like it. I would definitely buy and use it more if it were more readily available in Houston. Based on my experience with the owner/management of both brands, I would much rather spend my money on Rockwood than WG. Take what you will from these tests, I hope that some may find this post helpful. 

#1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.

Comments

  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 8,540
    Pretty sweet review. 

    Thanks.
  • hapsterhapster Posts: 4,731
    Thanks for testing and posting... Your results seem to be inline with my recent experiences with both lump brands. In particular, the Rockwood to me seems to light and get to temp faster when fresh vs the WG. Past that, it's more or draw when comparing temps, burn times, and leftover ash & lump.

    I would still use either; but it seems like it will be easier for me to get Rockwood locally thru Firecraft rather than ordering or driving much further to get WG.
  • jtippersjtippers Posts: 509
    Good stuff, thanks for posting!
    LBGE April 2011 • SBGE December 2012 •  XLBGE December 2013
    Location: Jasper, Georgia
  • jtippersjtippers Posts: 509
    Good stuff, thanks for posting!
    LBGE April 2011 • SBGE December 2012 •  XLBGE December 2013
    Location: Jasper, Georgia
  • thetrimthetrim Posts: 532
    Nice review.  A question about the pie pans:
    Do you use them regularly or did you only use them for purposes of the test?  If you do use them regularly, is it to replace or augment the Hi Que?

    Just curious, because I haven't seen that before.

    Thanks again - great write up
    =======================================
    XL 6/06, Mini 6/12, L 10/12
    Tampa Bay, FL
  • YEMTreyYEMTrey Posts: 1,416
    Thanks for your time and efforts!

    Cincinnati, Ohio
    "Ain't nobody gonna find ya, unless you get yourself lost."
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 4,890
    @caliking-most eggcellent review.  WGWW was my "go-to" lump until the QA (really small pieces and lots of dust and shake) issues of earlier this year.  Since then I have found and switched to Rockwood.  Looks like WGWW has solved the QA problems, as I was lead to believe via some phone calls.  Choices, choices...a good problem to have.
    Thanks for the effort and write-up.
    Louisville
  • HotchHotch Posts: 799

    Great to know.

    Thanks

    image

     "You’re not a real Texan till you’ve been kicked out of every decent state in America." - Joe Bob Briggs

    LBGE, Mini BGE and R&V Fryer

    Prosper TX



  • yzziyzzi Posts: 1,358
    Where's the fine print of your biased review?? Just kidding. Great review you have here, actually. Since I can't get WG anymore after ace stopped carrying it I'm going to try Rockwood though I'll have to order it from Firecraft. Still have a couple bags of old WG to burn through though... Thanks for your review.
    Dunedin, FL
  •  
    yzzi said:
    Where's the fine print of your biased review?? Just kidding. Great review you have here, actually. Since I can't get WG anymore after ace stopped carrying it I'm going to try Rockwood though I'll have to order it from Firecraft. Still have a couple bags of old WG to burn through though... Thanks for your review.

    If your local Ace is supplied by the Gainesville GA warehouse, you should be able to order it in about a month.  I don't know if or how far their reach extends into FL.

    Connect:  Website  -  Facebook  -  Twitter

  • Thanks for the thorough review...I was just looking at buying some new charcoal online and I think I might give the Rockwood a shot, price is good too!
    Pure Michigan
    Large BGE, Medium BGE, Weber Performer.
    If dogs don't go to heaven, when I die I want to go wherever they went
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 5,291
    edited December 2013
    OK, I figured out how to post better images of the temp plots.
    Y-axis= temperature
    X-axis= time (minutes) elapsed since lighting.

    Dome temperature:
    image 

    Grid temperature:
    image

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 5,291
    @yzzi - no fine print, and no bias amigo :) I tried to control for as many variables as I could with my backyard setup. Bomb calorimetry and a lab would have been ideal, but I already bought a Sous Vide Demi this year, so I've exhausted my points with SWMBO!

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 5,291
    @thetrim - the pie pans were used only for the purpose of the burn tests. I wanted the lump to be contained so I could easily weigh the ash by just lifting out the pie pan. The pan on the grid was used because i needed a flat surface to aim the IR thermo at through the top vent. 

    I don't use a pie pan for the lump when i cook, although it may be something to consider when tailgating or camping to make for easy lump/ash removal when you need to cool the egg down quickly. Figure out how to remove a pie pan full of hot lump and ash, and a small egg will probably cool down much quicker. You could probably rig a handle of sorts on the pan  with baling wire or something.  

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 5,291
    @lousubcap & @hapster - I had some initial concerns about the smaller Rockwood pieces, but the test shows that the lump performs well. Again, I did not dump out the whole bag of each brand to compare the sizes of the lump pieces.

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • caliking said:
    @lousubcap & @hapster - I had some initial concerns about the smaller Rockwood pieces, but the test shows that the lump performs well. Again, I did not dump out the whole bag of each brand to compare the sizes of the lump pieces.

    Smaller pieces do not really make a difference when the carbon is so high.  It will hold lower temps, so the air flow isn't as important with "charcoal" that is still wood.  When I say "smaller pieces" I mean ping pong ball size or smaller--so anything smaller than that gets so close together, it can choke the airflow.  You can dump those fines off to the side or in the ash pan, and you'll still get the BTU's out of it.  I save mine for the wood stove.

    Remember......

    Higher carbon content =

    • more brittle charcoal
    • smaller pieces for every mile that bag bounces down the road.
    • less overall burn time
    • gets up to temp faster, but [some say] harder to light off initially

    Higher wood content (less carbon) =

    • more dense
    • more smoke from the sugars, tars, etc.
    • more ash "  "
    • less responsive

    So, each has their advantages and disadvantages.  I like the higher carbon content, so that's how Rockwood comes......yep, I'm selfish. 

    Either way, replace the grate and run a higher air flow one--then the lump size doesn't really matter, because the O2 has plenty of paths to travel.

    Connect:  Website  -  Facebook  -  Twitter

  • I've enjoyed the Rockwood we did for the Austin buy. definitely runs hot. that stuff can go inferno.....and fast. I really like Ozark Oak as well but am always glad to trade with a fellow egger and forum member. hope we can get some distro down here but I'm good for 6 months or so. I have a lot of bags and 6-8 OO bags left. And my personal favorite, I still have a 40 lb bag of "consumer commodity" (generic) mesquite charcoal from Mexico I bought at Sams for the tito's fueled Cochinita Pibil that we buried at the beach last summer. this would not have fared as well in caliking's testing :))

  • calikingcaliking Posts: 5,291
    @stlcharcoal - I'm not worried about the size of the pieces - I'll take the higher carbon content!  I would have thought that the smaller pieces would burn up faster, but Rockwood burned just as long as WG in these tests. The VOC's and other stuff  burned off significantly quicker than WG, which wasn't too bad to begin with. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • queuedqueued Posts: 50
    I'm lucky to have access to Wicked Good at my local retailer, and bought 8 bags of Rockwood via a group buy.  IMO, both are good charcoal, but I love the Rockwood.  I only wish I could buy it local.
    Raleigh, NC
  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 885
    edited December 2013
    queued said:
    I'm lucky to have access to Wicked Good at my local retailer, and bought 8 bags of Rockwood via a group buy.  IMO, both are good charcoal, but I love the Rockwood.  I only wish I could buy it local.


    Right now, there's Rockwood in one Ace Hardware store in NC, but its quite a bit west of you most likely.  I know that Ace's Gainesville, GA warehouse supplies some of NC, hopefully that line is far enough east that your local Ace can order.

    Wait about a month, then start checking--the 4 months of paperwork is almost finished, and a truckload be there by Feb 1 (of course, that's what I thought two months ago.)

     

     

    Connect:  Website  -  Facebook  -  Twitter

  • LitLit Posts: 2,561
    You open that FOGO yet caliking? IMO its better than the original wicked good even.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 5,291
    @Lit - haven't gotten in to the Fogo yet. Have you seen the price on Amazon? It keeps going up!

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • I participated with @Caliking in the Rockwood group buy. It seems to not give off as much VOC ( or whatever you call it) when initially lit. I find I am able to cook sooner because of that. Also seems to get the Egg to temp faster.

    I am sold on it.

    Springram
    Spring, Texas
    LBGE and Mini
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