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Charcoal Choice

BeggerBegger Posts: 513
I've now gone thru enough charcoal to make a few conclusions.

First?    Chunk Size in-bag is a luck-of-the-draw condition.    With the 2 major types of lump I can easily get here in SoCal, bag conditon goes either way.   I can have a good percentage of good, large lump, or a bag of Gravel.   And this is for BGE and/or Royal Oak.   And purchased from 3 or 4 vendors.  
My next and last test will be to go to the ACE HARDWARE which now advertises BGE grills and I heard from others, Rockwood Charcoal.    I may test a bag or several of THAT but don't expect a big change of conclusion.

If I start making my OWN charcoal, I'll end up in Prison, given California's Draconian laws.   Not to mention having the neighbors down on me!

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Comments

  • EggNorthEggNorth Posts: 1,125
    I find that handling has everything to do with it.  I give the bag a shake, information I got from this forum, and from that can make a good guess of what's inside.


    Dave
    Cambridge, Ontario - Canada
    LBGE (2010), Mini Max (2015)
  • BeggerBegger Posts: 513
    Yes.     For Sure.    Drop Kick a bag down a couple flights of stairs and you've got chips and powder. 
    But I also look at the bag for NO HOLES which will mess up anything but a pickup truck which carries the load outside.    I'd hate getting 'dusted' by toting a couple bags home in the trunk......
  • DMWDMW Posts: 12,463
    BGE lump is re-branded Royal Oak. That would match your findings.
    My Facebook Page where I document my cooking
    Morgantown, PA

    XL BGE - S BGE - KJ Jr - HB Legacy - BS Pizza Oven - 30" Firepit - King Kooker Fryer -  PR72T - 18.5" WSM - WSJ - BS 17" Griddle - XXL BGE - Akron Jr - BS SS36" Griddle
  • ScantronScantron Posts: 9
    I just got 3 bags of Rockwood from my local Ace Hardware.  I've never used it before as was excited to try it.  It has, by far, the largest chunks I've ever seen in a bag of lump.  I know shipping is one of the biggest factors but surely quality manufacturing has to help as well.  Very impressed.
    Cooking on a Large Big Green Egg in North Chicagoland.
  • SkrullbSkrullb Posts: 362
    Scantron said:
    I just got 3 bags of Rockwood from my local Ace Hardware.  I've never used it before as was excited to try it.  It has, by far, the largest chunks I've ever seen in a bag of lump.  I know shipping is one of the biggest factors but surely quality manufacturing has to help as well.  Very impressed.
    See, I just got 3 bags of Rockwood delivered and I’m far from impressed. It’s mostly chips and small pieces. I’ve been using FOGO for a while and the lump I’m used to is HUGE compared to this. Don’t know how much it matters but I was expecting it to be different. This is my first experience with RW. 
    I'm in Fredericksburg, VA, and I have an XL and a medium. 
  • bgebrentbgebrent Posts: 16,465
    Not an ad.  Buy and use Rockwood.  It is smoke neutral and high quality.  It's all I'll use.  @stlcharcoal is an avid forum participant and owner of RW.  He owes me nothing.  His charcoal is the best.
    Sandy Springs & Dawsonville Ga
  • JohnInCarolinaJohnInCarolina Posts: 11,562
    Regardless of your experience with charcoal in the past, I’d advise against drawing any big conclusions on the basis of a single bag.   
    "If the world is something you accept rather than interpret, then you're susceptible to the influence of charismatic idiots." - NdGT

    "The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand." - DT


  • bgebrentbgebrent Posts: 16,465
    Regardless of your experience with charcoal in the past, I’d advise against drawing any big conclusions on the basis of a single bag.   
    Says the science guy.  He's right.  Get RW.
    Sandy Springs & Dawsonville Ga
  • PowakPowak Posts: 603
    Rockwood for sure. I’ve only had bag and it had some smaller pieces and dust but even then it wasn’t as smoky as RO and the meat came out tasting great.
  • KennyLeeKennyLee Posts: 782

    Be careful with your selection.  I hear most of it causes cancer out there on the left coast.  :) 

    RW if you can get it.  If not, RO is good clean lump at a good price.

    LBGE

    Cedar table w/granite top

    Ceramic Grillworks two-tier swing rack

    Perpetual cooler of ice-cold beer

  • BeggerBegger Posts: 513
    yes, I agree.    Single bag is NOT a valid test.     I'm basing my conclusion on 10 or more bags of EACH.    BGE lump ALL bought from a single source and RO bought from either of the 2 local home stores.     

    And yes, BGE is, AFAIK, a rebrand / rebag  or higher shelf selection of RO.

    And indeed I WILL try the Rockwood.     Trip to ACE tomorrow and see if the local guys carry it.

    California jokes are cheap and easy!    Have fun with THAT!    

    No matter WHAT, those Bacon Wrapped Kosher Dogs I made today were TOPS.
  • SemolinaPilchardSemolinaPilchard Posts: 1,044
    If your local Ace doesn't stock they can order it.
  • YukonRonYukonRon Posts: 12,238
    I suppose I have tried about 20 different brands of lump charcoal. Of them all, my best results have consistently come from Rockwood.
    Neutral smoke is where it is at for me, and the end results, by far, are superior.
    I have given bags of RW to others to try, and everyone, once they have tried it, will use nothing else.

    "Knowledge is Good" - Emil Faber

    XL and MM
    Louisville, Kentucky
  • johnnypjohnnyp Posts: 2,902

    Unless you're getting absolute gravel and nothing of substantial size, I wouldn't put much stock in chunk size, regardless of brand.  It just doesn't matter in regards to the quality of the product or the fire it will produce. 

    Actually, I find the super-sized chunks a hassle to deal with.   Just my 0.02.

    XL & MM BGE, 36" Blackstone - Newport News, VA
  • GrillSgtGrillSgt Posts: 1,721
    Small lump leads to air flow issues. Can make it difficult to hold a low temp and also leads to inconsistent temps. As a channel opens up through the densely packed lump the temp will spike.
    Woodford & Barren Co. KY

    LBGE, XLBGE, 2 Weber Genesis, Weber 22" kettle

    I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize

  • watsonacewatsonace Posts: 2
    Has anyone tried the Blues Hog Lump? I own a hardware store in Wisconsin, we carry BGE, RO, and RW.  Thinking about bringing it in, wondering if anyone has any opinions.  Currently I burn BGE but will have to take home some RW tonight after many endorsements.  
  • johnnypjohnnyp Posts: 2,902
    watsonace said:
    Has anyone tried the Blues Hog Lump? I own a hardware store in Wisconsin, we carry BGE, RO, and RW.  Thinking about bringing it in, wondering if anyone has any opinions.  Currently I burn BGE but will have to take home  

    The Naked Whiz has a lump charcoal database with reviews.  I would make this your starting point for all things charcoal.

    http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpindexpage.htm?bag


    XL & MM BGE, 36" Blackstone - Newport News, VA
  • bluebird66bluebird66 Posts: 2,031
    I save the small stuff and just dump it on top of the larger pieces when I load up my Kick Ash Basket.
    Large Egg with adjustable rig, Kick Ash Basket and various Weber's
    Floyd Va

  • logchieflogchief Posts: 1,323
    California jokes are cheap and easy!    Have fun with THAT! 

    And usually well founded in Californication =) 

    I've been waiting to get my hands on some Rockwood now that they have capitulated with the outrageous CA AQM Regs.  Still got a little more RO to burn.     
    LBGE - I like the hot stuff.  The big dry San Joaquin Valley, Clovis, CA 
  • YukonRonYukonRon Posts: 12,238
    Open bag, pour in, light, cook, repeat.
    Rockwood.
    "Knowledge is Good" - Emil Faber

    XL and MM
    Louisville, Kentucky
  • CarolinaCrazyCarolinaCrazy Posts: 567
    ours is ~250 g/m2 which means a golf ball sized piece of lump has as much surface area as a tennis court. 
    Mind blown.


    1 LBGE in Chapel Hill, NC
  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 3,057
    ours is ~250 g/m2 which means a golf ball sized piece of lump has as much surface area as a tennis court. 
    Mind blown.

    "Activated" charcoals will have surface areas easily 2-3x that for filters and other industrial uses.  Medical grade stuff is upwards of 2000 m2/g.  That's all usually from bismuth coal and is treated with super hot and high pressure steam, and other chemicals to open it up even more.

    Here's a pic of charcoal under a microscope (not sure what kind or porosity):




  • 1voyager1voyager Posts: 300


    Quick fix, KICK ASH BASKET!  Seriously, this solves the problem.

    How I do it.......because I haven't taken home a "good bag" in 5+ years.  I take the bags that were hit or run over by a forklift, the ones that comes back ripped or damaged, left outside, etc.  On a clean egg, I dump a new bag straight in.  No stacking, no sorting.  If I have an empty egg with less than a 1/4-1/2 bag left and it's looking really small, I'll open a new bag and fill about halfway up the fire ring.  Then I'll just the old bag to "top dress" it.  All those little pieces sprinkle in and nest with the bigger chunks.  Do the same thing the next time, start with the fuller bag, then top dress with the old bag until it's gone.  Anything that falls through the fire grate or KAB will burn.  I use 100% of that bag.  It's all BTU's that will burn.  Don't waste money.

    Very helpful suggestions as usual. Do you still use the grate and KAB together?
    Somewhere in Colorado
    LBGE, PGS A40 Gasser
  • mEGG_My_DaymEGG_My_Day Posts: 505
    To the OP - If buying at Ace, @stlcharcoal suggested to me many moons ago to join the Ace Hardware Rewards program.  The coupons alone save me about $5 per bag of Rockwood. 
    Memphis, TN 
  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 3,057
    1voyager said:


    Quick fix, KICK ASH BASKET!  Seriously, this solves the problem.

    How I do it.......because I haven't taken home a "good bag" in 5+ years.  I take the bags that were hit or run over by a forklift, the ones that comes back ripped or damaged, left outside, etc.  On a clean egg, I dump a new bag straight in.  No stacking, no sorting.  If I have an empty egg with less than a 1/4-1/2 bag left and it's looking really small, I'll open a new bag and fill about halfway up the fire ring.  Then I'll just the old bag to "top dress" it.  All those little pieces sprinkle in and nest with the bigger chunks.  Do the same thing the next time, start with the fuller bag, then top dress with the old bag until it's gone.  Anything that falls through the fire grate or KAB will burn.  I use 100% of that bag.  It's all BTU's that will burn.  Don't waste money.

    Very helpful suggestions as usual. Do you still use the grate and KAB together?

    You can, or you can take it out.  Some are blaming base cracks on the KAB for allowing more radiant heat to hit the base than with the cast iron grate.  I don't buy it, but to each his own.  If you're worried about it, set it on the existing cast iron grate.  It will work great either way.

    To the OP - If buying at Ace, @stlcharcoal suggested to me many moons ago to join the Ace Hardware Rewards program.  The coupons alone save me about $5 per bag of Rockwood. 

    Absolutely!!  The rewards program is really good.  The rewards dollars are not that much, but they send coupons out every month.  Right now there are three coupons running on AceHardware.com  --

    SAVE20MAY  ends tonight on $20 off $150

    SPR15CC  ends 5/31 for $15 off $125

    TAKE10NOW ends 5/31 for $10 off $100
  • northGAcocknorthGAcock Posts: 10,014
    I bought my kids a box of Snyders Hard Pretzels last week.  The guy had just put them on the shelf, they were in a box, and they went from the shelf, to my basket, to the front seat of my truck.....never got dropped.  I open the box for them, and there were three complete pretzels--the other 15-20 were in pieces.  The kids didn't care, and they tasted the same.

    The whole size argument really only means anything when it comes to burn time if you have an open air grill (no lid).  If you're metering the airflow, like in a kamado, it doesn't matter if it's one big piece or a bunch of little pieces.....there is only so much oxygen that's hitting the heat and carbon.  Lump is porous--ours is ~250 g/m2 which means a golf ball sized piece of lump has as much surface area as a tennis court.  BTU/lbs is BTU/lbs--doesn't matter the size.  

    The one exception is the kamado where the firebox funnels the charcoal together keeping it tightly packed.  If the pieces are too small and you haven't replaced the firebox, it can choke the airflow.  But the opposite holds true as well since it uses so little airflow.  There is a VERY small part of the charcoal burning in that firebox and if it's a big chunk that's too far away from the next big chunk, the fire will go out.  Some here call it a "fire bridge".  I just know it takes a temp of 673F to keep charcoal burning, and with such a tiny little spot burning, that next piece better be close enough to catch that radiant heat since carbon burns at about 1500F.  The fuel efficiency of the kamado can also be it's downfall.  Put two eggs side by side with the same weight (not volume), and burn them as the same temp......one with the top half of the bag, one with the bottom half of the bag.  They'll go out at the same time unless one of those two things happen.  And in 25 yrs of Egg'ing, I've had both happened equally.

    The other thing with huge chunks of charcoal, unless it was carbonized really well, you'll still have wood inside (which is fine unless you're looking for a flavor profile that doesn't include that species' smoke.  In the US with the clean air laws, and thus kilning hot and fast, it's pretty tough to get it 80%+ carbon all the way through.  By the time the inside is 80%+, you've lost a lot of carbon that would have been on the outside.  If they're good, they can get away with this south of the border where they kiln low and slow, pumping out tons of particulate into the atmosphere.  No guarantees they carbonized all the way through, but you can do it if you do it right.  If not, you're going to get some really bitter smoke as most of that wood is a walnut, cashew, or similar.  In any case, they're tough to light since the rest of that huge chunk is just a big heat sink.

    Quick fix, KICK ASH BASKET!  Seriously, this solves the problem.

    How I do it.......because I haven't taken home a "good bag" in 5+ years.  I take the bags that were hit or run over by a forklift, the ones that comes back ripped or damaged, left outside, etc.  On a clean egg, I dump a new bag straight in.  No stacking, no sorting.  If I have an empty egg with less than a 1/4-1/2 bag left and it's looking really small, I'll open a new bag and fill about halfway up the fire ring.  Then I'll just the old bag to "top dress" it.  All those little pieces sprinkle in and nest with the bigger chunks.  Do the same thing the next time, start with the fuller bag, then top dress with the old bag until it's gone.  Anything that falls through the fire grate or KAB will burn.  I use 100% of that bag.  It's all BTU's that will burn.  Don't waste money.

    This is called being schooled by the head master.
    Columbia, South Carolina with a Medium, MiniMax & a 17" Blackstone

    Talk-in' 'bout, hey now! Hey now! I-ko, I-ko, un-day
    Jock-a-mo fee-no ai na-né, jock-a-mo fee na-né

  • Royal CoachmenRoyal Coachmen Posts: 255
    I have used many different types and have found Rockwood to be the best. In fact, I almost ordered a pallet of it but didnt have anywhere for it to be delivered. 

    That said, I ordered Fogo on Amazon yesterday just to try it. Should be here tomorrow. I’ll update. 
  • BiggreenpharmacistBiggreenpharmacist Posts: 4,066
    Im back to buying ozark oak from harps. 20lbs was $11.99. 

    Little Rock, AR

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