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Best lump charcoal?

1246

Comments

  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 4,354
    Rockwood mostly, some Royal Oak for hot and fast only.
    In a pinch I will use Cowboy when I'm out of plywood scraps and old pressure treated deck boards !
    I remember many years ago back on the old board, someone contacted the manufacturer of one of the brands they found plywood in (I can't remember which one.)  Bag said it was 100% all natural, and the manufacturer replied that the glue is resin and resin is made from trees, so it's still all-natural.  Haha, yeah like they have a faucet on the side of the tree for glue.

    Briquettes are the same way......yeah limestone, borax, sodium nitrate, anthracite, sawdust, starch, fly ash, water, etc are all naturally occurring in nature, but not really together.  The limestone is the one that everybody needs to know about, because it's in there to weigh the bag down (yet they say it's to turn the briquettes white when they get hot.)

    Kind of like the old McDonald's "Shakes" from decades ago--not "milk shakes", because they were full of cellulose.  I remember reading an article a few years ago in a business magazine saying they did actually put dairy back in them at some point, but apparently not enough to call them "milk shakes".  It's probably the same stuff that goes in those cheap "ice cream" bars that they can't call "ice cream."  I was in a warehouse this summer and saw hundred's of pallets of those "ice cream" sandwiches, bars, etc.  It was 90+ degrees and this stuff had been there for weeks.  I asked the guy WTF, and he said it doesn't need to be frozen or even refrigerated.  When the supermarket or c-store gets them, they just put them in the freezer.  Apparently there's enough cellulose and gums in there to hold their shape and the dairy (or lack thereof) is dried and/or loaded with preservatives.  It was wild.  He said you take them out of the box and eat them warm if you wanted....texture would be weird, but they don't melt.  Better living through chemistry, right?
  • ryanttryantt Posts: 2,348
    edited January 2019
    bgebrent said:
    Has anyone mentioned Rockwood?
    I don’t believe so,  that’s for pointing it out.  =)
    XL BGE, KJ classic, Joe Jr, UDS x2
    Massillon Ohio 
    Check out Chef Norah Grace on Instagram @the_buckeye_bbq
  • LegumeLegume Posts: 11,396
    I’ve picked up bags of KJ big block in the past at Costco roadshows and been pretty happy.

    Last year some time, someone posted about Cabelas having a big sale on it, really cheap and free shipping over some total spend.  I bought 6 or 8 bags.  After finishing what I had from Costco, I dug into this new lot and discovered this is not the same lump.  Its heavy and doesn’t break up well at all.  Definitely undercarbonized as it smokes like crazy.  Nasty, bitter smoke that takes forever to clear, even at 350-400.  It’s not the same at all.

    I doubt I’ll ever buy another bag even from Costco, but it makes me wonder if some companies some companies know when they have a bad lot and purposely dump it on the market - maybe approach a retailer with a special they can feature.  As far as the ‘big block’ goes, I’ve been reading @stlcharcoal lessons on charcoal for several years, so I know if it really stays that big after all of the shipping, etc., it can’t be fully carbonized.  There is no ‘tink tink’ when you dump it.
  • BotchBotch Posts: 10,993
    stlcharcoal said:
    I was in a warehouse this summer and saw hundred's of pallets of those "ice cream" sandwiches, bars, etc.  It was 90+ degrees and this stuff had been there for weeks.  I asked the guy WTF, and he said it doesn't need to be frozen or even refrigerated.  When the supermarket or c-store gets them, they just put them in the freezer.  Apparently there's enough cellulose and gums in there to hold their shape and the dairy (or lack thereof) is dried and/or loaded with preservatives.  It was wild.  He said you take them out of the box and eat them warm if you wanted....texture would be weird, but they don't melt.  Better living through chemistry, right?
    "I did not know that!" [/Carson]

    ____________________________________________
    Introvert Engineers - Social Distancing before it was cool.  
    Ogden, Utard.  
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 23,201
    Learn something new here dang near every day. 
    Louisville; "indeterminate Jim" here.  Rolling smoke in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer!
  • ColtsFan said:
      
    You act like you own a lump charcoal company or something. :)

    Seriously, your post about lump are always very informative. Thanks for sharing that knowledge with us. 
    Ok, I'll do you one better here.....we have 8 inches of snow and I don't want to plow it yet.

    This other misconception that "size = quality = high cost", or "small pieces = cheap" is totally backwards......or it can be (sort of).

    There are a million factors that go into this but I'm just going to hit on the main ones.  And the main one is: if it's properly carbonized, then it's brittle.  Just like Lay's Potato Chips, it's going to break down in the bagging, palletization, and transit from mere agitation.  If you have a huge chunk of 80-85% carbonized lump, then you either hand carried it out of the plant, or it was just well nested in the bag to preserve it.  But most of the time, what you are holding is probably under 75% on the inside......so wood fiber is holding it together.

    We saw a big box retailer with a dirt cheap brand over the summer with huge chunks in it.  Every time I saw pictures of this product, I saw big BROWN chunks.  These pieces were not "charcoal", they were charred wood.  I can sell you a yule log sized piece that's black, heavy, and dense, by taking a log and hitting it with my weed burner.  It's going to be 30-40#, because it's full or wood fiber, water, and volatiles.  It's going to produce a ton of flames, odors, ash, and take for ever to light because of all the evaporation taking place dropping the kindling temp.

    Cave man invented charcoal because it was solid fuel that was easy to light, quick to dry if it got wet, and burned hot quickly for a long time.  We use it for the same reasons but also because it's a lot of BTU in a small package, doesn't produce much ash or taste, and mainly because it doesn't produce flames (which is the volatiles burning off).  It's silly to buy under-carbonized "charcoal"......just use wood.  Think of buying firewood by weight and getting green wood rather than seasoned.  That's why states require you to buy by volume (measured in fractions of a "cord"), but you should still be ticked if it's not seasoned (15%-20% moisture content.)

    Back to the money aspect.  It's cheaper to produce bigger chunk "charcoal" because it spends less time in the kilns.  If you can turn more kilns in a year, that's more money.  Also, your tonnage is a better yield because you are using less carbon to burn out the water, thus sending more water out in the bags (which you sell by weight).  Where we average 6.5#-7.0# of wood for every 1.0# of LUMP charcoal shipped, if you're shipping under-carbonized stuff, you might be down in the 4-5# wood:lump ratio.  Also, the more brittle the lump is, the more you lose in the fines.  Anything smaller than 1x1" gets falls through into the fines pile on ours.  Take that down to 3/4"x3/4" or use a lower carbonization to start with, and your tonnage goes way up.

    Take a look at bag VOLUME size.  Our 20# bag is bigger than other 20# bags.  We can only fit 30 bags on a pallet, when others can fit 35 on the same sized pallet and not exceed 48-52" on height.  With all the 17.6#, 15.8#, and other odd ball sizes, you can't tell anymore, but the smaller the bag volume for the same size weight will tell you how much water is in the bag......since water is  heavier than carbon.  (It's a dead giveaway on briquettes since water soaked limestone is WAY heavier than carbon.  Briquette users that pick up lump bags for the first time of how "Light" they are.  No they're not light, they're just not heavy from all the limestone that's in briquettes.)

    Once the lump hits the truck, then it starts breaking down again.  ANY charcoal company is always going to fill the truck up.  We double stack 30 bag pallets, some single stack 60 bag pallets.  Doesn't matter how you stack when it comes to the lump--it all has to do with the logistics.  The bags at the bottom feel the same weight.  But considering the surface area, it's not that bad as one would think.  The charcoal starts to break down and nest, and hopefully stops there.

    Once it goes into distribution here's where stuff gets tricky.  I saw a pic on IG the other day of charcoal stacked 4 pallets high.  That's crazy.  We only stack 2 pallets high in our main warehouse for anything that ships out of STL.  For STL distribution in our other little warehouse (AKA: my treehouse/hideout, or "The BBQ Speakeasy"), we'll stack 3 high, but the bottom pallets are marked for restaurant customers who don't want the big chunks.  Even with the extra 660# on it, that bottom pallet isn't much different than the one in the middle.  The top pallet it always has the biggest chunks of course (as long as they didn't get swap from top to bottom as they go from the truck to the warehouse.)  Top or bottom, this lump only travels much less and is always delivered single stacked on our box truck.  Breakage is minimal even for the bottom pallets.

    After it gets to stores and to consumers, it becomes a handling issue.  Treat it like eggs, not rock salt.

    So back to my original point, making big chunks *can* actually cheaper and making lump that breaks down to little pieces is more expensive.

    ***Important***  I'm not saying that every large chunk of charcoal you encounter is going to be filled with wood.  There are people out there that can do it right, but it takes a certain type of wood, kilning, and handling.  We cannot do that here in the US because we cannot start with whole trees or cord wood, nor can we slow burn because of the EPA req's.  That's why you end up with longer flatter pieces in our charcoal.....it's coming from slabs.  If you can clear cut whatever is in your path then slow burn not worrying about particulate, then you can actually get some pretty big chunks that are 75%+ carbon all the way through.

    Here's the super simple test; you don't have to spend $1000's on BTU and carbonization tests every year like we do. 

    IF YOU CAN EASILY BREAK IT APART BY HAND, it's probably close 85% or more.

    If it takes some force or you have to drop it, it's probably more like 80%.

    If you can't break it, it's under 75% and NOT "charcoal" per se.  You have charred wood.

    You'll find under-carbonized pieces in ANY brand including ours.  This isn't a highly controlled process.  You start with all kinds of wood with different moisture contents, then fire has a mind of its own inside the kiln.  The good news is with ours, it's mainly oak, with some hickory, maple, pecan, etc.  A little of that smoke is not going to ruin your food like a bitter foreign wood will.  But hopefully in the end, most of what is in the bag is about 80% carbon, a good mix of sizes, and all for a fair price for the BTU/#.

    This was great reading. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I will switch back to Rockwood instead of B&B to support what you are doing. I will still keep getting my free bags of FOGO though! 
  • EoinEoin Posts: 3,514
    We don't get Rockwood in the UK. I've tried most 'premium' brands here, with mixed results. All but one of them has variable quality, easily seem by the time taken for the smoke to clear and the ash content. Look closer, and it's easy to see the brownish lumps and tar on some of the lumps. There is always some residual bad taste from these. In some, I've even found pieces of carbonised web strapping - tasty. I now use a brand called Alderline, which is expensive, but super clean and neutral. Ash content is almost zero, no bad smell, clear smoke from the start.
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 35,857
    bgebrent said:
    Has anyone mentioned Rockwood?
    Your mom, when she's referring to my "turgor pressure".
    ______________________________________________
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, big effin' pellet smoker, gas grill, fire pit, FireDisk, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 
    Stike's troll account





  • No interest from Lowes, Home Depot or Costco?
    Other way around......I have no interest in them.  All the big boxes have contacted us and it's a huge waste of time to even engage.  It's a non-starter when they start telling me what they pay for charcoal from Mexico and South America, the ridiculous margin and damage policies they require, and all the other BS.  They're buying charcoal for less than we can even produce it--and that should tell you something since the companies producing it, the distributors, and freight companies moving it thousands of miles, are all still making money.  Must be nice to be to pay pennies for clear cut wood & labor, then pump as much particulate into the atmosphere as you want.  EPA+DNR+OSHA+IRS+ETC = $$$$$$


    That's too bad.

    There is a small chain of specialized BBQ stores in Ontario called BBQ World. they carry various charcoal, BGE, Weber, Napoleon, PRIMO and some other very high end grills. I'll reach out to them and see what they say. 

    Weber Genesis CP310; Weber Q1200 (camping); LBGE.

    "If you haven't heard a rumour by 8:30 am - start one"





  • Any plans to introduce Rockwood into Canada, particularly southern Ontario?
    Sure, soon as we can find a big enough customer and/or one that afford the freight.  We have the bag proofs ready with the required French lingo, but I'm not going to print 40,000 of them until we have a solid deal with somebody.  Spread the word, S'il vous plaît.
    I’m in Ottawa, Ontario. So it sounds like it’s settled then - I’ll take a dozen bags and @OshawaDave will take the balance.

     =) 
    Sounds like a plan!

    Weber Genesis CP310; Weber Q1200 (camping); LBGE.

    "If you haven't heard a rumour by 8:30 am - start one"

  • GoooDawgsGoooDawgs Posts: 1,060
    @Photo Egg where are you finding the 30 pound bags of Royal Oak?   Never seen those in Ga, hoping they make it over here. 
    Milton, GA 
    XL BGE & FB300
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 10,678
    GoooDawgs said:
    @Photo Egg where are you finding the 30 pound bags of Royal Oak?   Never seen those in Ga, hoping they make it over here. 
    I saw this "one" bag sitting in front of a display of B&B oak lump at my local Walmart a few days ago. Shot a photo and walked on. My garage is so lump heavy, to the point of ridiculous right now. I could not afford to stop and ask for details. It still haunts me.lol
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • bubbajackbubbajack Posts: 727
    GoooDawgs said:
    @Photo Egg where are you finding the 30 pound bags of Royal Oak?   Never seen those in Ga, hoping they make it over here. 
    Walmart. $15.00 for 30lbs.
    I drink cheap beer so I can afford good bourbon.

    Salisbury, NC...... XL,L,Mx2,S, MM, Mini BGE, FireDisc x2
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 15,017
    Photo Egg said:
    GoooDawgs said:
    @Photo Egg where are you finding the 30 pound bags of Royal Oak?   Never seen those in Ga, hoping they make it over here. 
    I saw this "one" bag sitting in front of a display of B&B oak lump at my local Walmart a few days ago. Shot a photo and walked on. My garage is so lump heavy, to the point of ridiculous right now. I could not afford to stop and ask for details. It still haunts me.lol
    You need to go back, and get it to add to the collection :)

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 10,678
    caliking said:
    Photo Egg said:
    GoooDawgs said:
    @Photo Egg where are you finding the 30 pound bags of Royal Oak?   Never seen those in Ga, hoping they make it over here. 
    I saw this "one" bag sitting in front of a display of B&B oak lump at my local Walmart a few days ago. Shot a photo and walked on. My garage is so lump heavy, to the point of ridiculous right now. I could not afford to stop and ask for details. It still haunts me.lol
    You need to go back, and get it to add to the collection :)
    You are a bad man...
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • ROlinROlin Posts: 19
    The Devil is taking the lump market. Jealous Devil that is. The best axe breaker makes the best lump. And on top of that completely water proof bags. Put that in your smoker & smoke it. You'll never go back. 
  • bubbajackbubbajack Posts: 727
    Photo Egg said:
    caliking said:
    Photo Egg said:
    GoooDawgs said:
    @Photo Egg where are you finding the 30 pound bags of Royal Oak?   Never seen those in Ga, hoping they make it over here. 
    I saw this "one" bag sitting in front of a display of B&B oak lump at my local Walmart a few days ago. Shot a photo and walked on. My garage is so lump heavy, to the point of ridiculous right now. I could not afford to stop and ask for details. It still haunts me.lol
    You need to go back, and get it to add to the collection :)
    You are a bad man...
    Because it is readily available and cheap, I use B&B Oak and B&B with Hickory on many of my cooks. Dried nicely and good clean smoke with a good bit of large pieces with a few smalls mixed in. Hickory is $13.44 for 20lbs and Oak is $15.00 for 20 pounds. It is my everyday charcoal. 

     Rockwood is still my go to on really nice cuts of protein. I just have to drive a ways to get it.
    I drink cheap beer so I can afford good bourbon.

    Salisbury, NC...... XL,L,Mx2,S, MM, Mini BGE, FireDisc x2
  • LegumeLegume Posts: 11,396
    ROlin said:
    The Devil is taking the lump market. Jealous Devil that is. The best axe breaker makes the best lump. And on top of that completely water proof bags. Put that in your smoker & smoke it. You'll never go back. 
    Go away.
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 10,678
    bubbajack said:
    Photo Egg said:
    caliking said:
    Photo Egg said:
    GoooDawgs said:
    @Photo Egg where are you finding the 30 pound bags of Royal Oak?   Never seen those in Ga, hoping they make it over here. 
    I saw this "one" bag sitting in front of a display of B&B oak lump at my local Walmart a few days ago. Shot a photo and walked on. My garage is so lump heavy, to the point of ridiculous right now. I could not afford to stop and ask for details. It still haunts me.lol
    You need to go back, and get it to add to the collection :)
    You are a bad man...
    Because it is readily available and cheap, I use B&B Oak and B&B with Hickory on many of my cooks. Dried nicely and good clean smoke with a good bit of large pieces with a few smalls mixed in. Hickory is $13.44 for 20lbs and Oak is $15.00 for 20 pounds. It is my everyday charcoal. 

     Rockwood is still my go to on really nice cuts of protein. I just have to drive a ways to get it.
    The B&B oak lump was on clearance for $9.99 for the 20# bag.
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • GoooDawgsGoooDawgs Posts: 1,060
    is @ROlin for real or is it @nolaegghead?   
    Milton, GA 
    XL BGE & FB300
  • DoubleEggerDoubleEgger Posts: 16,849
    @GoooDawgs it’s just a shill for a brand of lump. Only comments are related to how great this particular brand of charcoal is. 
  • GoldenQGoldenQ Posts: 463
    When I want to impress with food I like Rockwood  but my general purpose is RO made USA  from HD
    I XL  and 1 Weber Kettle  And 1 Weber Q220       Outside Alvin, TX-- South of Houston
  • Slippy said:
    Rockwood. Hardly any smoke, great price.
    Where do you get your Rockwood around here? I want to try it. Been using Fogo since they have it at BBQ Galore... 
    I get mine at Ace Hardware.  They don't usually carry it but can order from their warehouse.
  • ROlin said:
    The Devil is taking the lump market. Jealous Devil that is. The best axe breaker makes the best lump. And on top of that completely water proof bags. Put that in your smoker & smoke it. You'll never go back. 
    This poster spends just as much time on here informing and supporting our hobby with straight talk as stlcharcoal does, so it definitely seems like a legit endorsement from someone not affiliated with the company in any way to me (-:
    Stillwater, MN




  • Any plans to introduce Rockwood into Canada, particularly southern Ontario?
    Sure, soon as we can find a big enough customer and/or one that afford the freight.  We have the bag proofs ready with the required French lingo, but I'm not going to print 40,000 of them until we have a solid deal with somebody.  Spread the word, S'il vous plaît.
    I’m in Ottawa, Ontario. So it sounds like it’s settled then - I’ll take a dozen bags and @OshawaDave will take the balance.

     =) 
    Sounds like a plan!


    I emailed Barbeque World to enquire and below is the their response for what its worth:

    Hi Dave,

     

    Yes we have looked into Rockwood Lump as another option to add to our current assortment. We try to have many different options regarding the type of hardwood used and size of lump. Also from many different regions of the world. Currently carrying charcoal from Argentina, Columbia, US, Ukraine and Canada. Our Blues Hog charcoal hails from the same region in Missouri using the same hardwoods. The lump size of Blues Hog is a little larger and decided to go that route. That does not mean that we won't bring it into the stores in the future. Should you find anything else that you've tried and had great success with please let me know and would be happy to investigate and consider adding it to our assortment.

     

    Thanks so much for your email.

     

    Troy

     

     

    ---------- Forwarded message ---------
    From: Dave

    Date: Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 11:08 AM
    Subject: Rockwood Lump
    To:
    [email protected] <[email protected]>

     

    I’m reading a lot of good stuff online with regards to Rockwood lump charcoal. I understand that it’s not currently available in Canada.  Has BBQ World ever looked into stocking the product? I would appreciate your feedback/comments. It would be a great alternative to BGE lump.  

     

    https://rockwoodcharcoal.com/about-rockwood-lump-charcoal/

    Weber Genesis CP310; Weber Q1200 (camping); LBGE.

    "If you haven't heard a rumour by 8:30 am - start one"

  • YnoYno Posts: 371
    ROlin said:
    The Devil is taking the lump market. Jealous Devil that is. The best axe breaker makes the best lump. And on top of that completely water proof bags. Put that in your smoker & smoke it. You'll never go back. 
    This poster spends just as much time on here informing and supporting our hobby with straight talk as stlcharcoal does, so it definitely seems like a legit endorsement from someone not affiliated with the company in any way to me (-:
    13 posts, every one a shill for JD. The political one (that ended with a plug for JD) would bet him the ban hammer now. I call BS on this. @stlcharcoal is much more active, informative, and believable.
    XL BGE in San Jose, CA. Also a Pit Barrel Cooker, a Cal Flame P4 gasser, and lots of toys including the first ever Flame Boss 300 in the wild. And a new Flame Boss 500.
  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 4,354
    Thanks for trying.  We've never had any contact with that company, but would be happy to hear from them in the future.
  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 4,354
    Woodchunk said:
    Interesting reading reviews of all the lump that ace sells .

    https://www.acehardware.com/departments/outdoor-living/grills-and-smokers/charcoal
    What sucks for ANY brand and ANY product is that maybe 1 of 100 people will leave you a positive review for a positive experience.  It's like 1 out of 3 that will leave you a negative review if they have a bad experience......and they're more likely to do that than contacting the seller (passive aggressive route.)

    Then there's all the fraud.  On those Ace reviews, we have one that's word for word on another vendor's site.  The guy was a shill from another brand.  Then we have several on Amazon with people complaining they thought they were buying another brand, they thought they were getting two bags vs. one, the price is too high, or they steer people to another site or brand.  All of these comments are not allowed per Amazon's feedback rules, but they won't take them down.  So our metric gets lowered.

    Then there have been a few retaliatory ones where crooks have tried to return the product before they even received it claiming "inaccurate description" or something else that would cause us to eat the shipping both ways (knowing it's cheaper to just to let them "throw it away".)  So we get a box back with torn open bags inside, file a fraud complaint for it hoping Amazon will agree, and then they leave 1-star feedback.

    I guess we should do like another brand mentioned above and give away a bag if you leave 5-star feedback (I have the email offer from them.)  Funny thing how you had to leave the feedback and screen shot it before they'd send you the product though.  Also prohibited on Amazon, yet they're still on there!
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