Looking for the best charcoal

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by jbc1, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. jbc1

    jbc1 Newbie

    I want to know peoples thoughts on charcoal. I've been grilling for a long time but I'm still very much a novice and want to get better. I've only ever used Kingsford. Is Kingsford the end-all be-all when it comes to charcoal? I've read some stuff recently about what goes in their product and it worries me. Is there better charcoal out there or is it all pretty much the same? Any recommendations on what charcoal I should be using?
  2. phatbac

    phatbac Smoking Fanatic

    In my opinion it depends on what im doing which charcoal im using. the kingsford briqs and royal oak briqs are about the same for me when it comes to grilling like with a kettle. ( i get one of these two depending on price) If i am starting a stick burner like Black Betty (see below) i just use the briqs i have on hand to start the fire. If i am smoking with the WSM then i want to use royal oak hardwood lump. I think the hardwood lump has a better flavor for smoking but it does burn hotter so i adjust my technique accordingly. there are a few websites out there that compare the charcoal brands against the others. I know some of the cheaper lump brands you can find pieces of plywood and rocks and screws and debris in the bags but i have always been fortunate with royal oak in that regard. Since i mostly ever use Black Betty or my kettle i use briquettes almost all the time these days.

    Experiment and find the kind you like at the price you like paying for what you do.

    Happy Smoking,

    phatbac (Aaron)
  3. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Different brands and types are good for different things. I like all natural briquettes  (stubbs or trader joe's) for most of what I do. Mostly that's smoking between 250° and 325°. I like lump for grilling. I'll buy Kingsford occasionally as lots of times that's all they have locally, but I've never thought "You know, Kingsford is the perfect charcoal for this". There are better choices if you can find them.
  4. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member


    My opinion is pretty much same as boatbum's.  I still use Kingsford Blue some in my gravity fed smoker, but mostly because you can always find it just about everywhere, and it's so much less expensive than pretty much anything else (unless you find sales).  But I prefer all hardwood briqs such as Stubbs, Royal Oak, or B&B.

    For grilling on my kettle, or shorter smokes in the gravity smoker (say a couple hours or less), I like to use lump.  Royal Oak, B&B, and Cowboy are the lump charcoals I've tried...and I've had pretty good results with all 3.  Cowboy is a brand that has a bit of of a bad rep for containing foreign trash (nails, screws, rocks, etc.), but I've had good luck with it myself.  My local Academy Outdoor Store sells the whole B&B line (both lump and briq), so I've been buying more of that lately.

  5. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I agree with Red and Boatbum on the RO or Stubbs for briqs, but for lump I only use RO. In my stick burner, use lump for a good coal bed and start it with a chimney of briqs.

    My only difference from my smoking colleagues is their opinion on KBB. I really don't like the odor or taste of the smoke that comes from the chemicals and binders that Kingsford uses.

    Good luck with your research, Joe. :grilling_smilie:
  6. crazy8

    crazy8 Newbie

    I've had great success with the Kingsford Competition briqs in my vertical feed (Rebel 17). Anyone else using these?
    They are supposed to be 100% hardwood, has anyone found research that proves otherwise??

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
  7. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I use RO lump for my kettle & KBB for everything else.

    I don't use my WSM much anymore, so KBB works well in getting a coal bed started in my Lang.

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  8. I was a good boy last year and Mrs Claus left a Vision Grill Pro C on the covered deck for my present! So I had the same question.

    I don't have an answer, but here's where I am.

    I only use lump charcoal.

    I'll never buy another bag of Cowboy brand. Too many "fines" and it throws a lot of sparks.

    Royal Oak works well.

    The kitchen store in Asheville, NC carries:

    Big Green Egg - specifies it uses Hickory and Oak. As I smoke a lot of pork and beef, I've started trying it.

    Forgo - hardwood

    Basques Sugar Maple - Thinking about getting a bag of this for smoking other meats.

    Rock Wood - hardwood.

    I have a preference for knowing the wood used to create the lump charcoal. I'm just that way.

    Here's a great web site that compares different charcoal. http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lump.htm Of course, YMMV
  9. For the price and availability, Royal Oak (briquettes are good, lump hardwood is REALLY good). Stay away from Cowboy brand lump hardwood. The rumors are true, the stuff is junk.
  10. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Green Egg charcoal is made for them by Royal Oak. When using charcoal, it is always RO lump. I light it with RO briqs. as they work better in a chimney better than lump. If I am out of RO briqs (must be an inventory error), I will use Stubbs briqs. Any Cowboy product will have a lot of foreign matter in its

    Good luck, Joe. :grilling_smilie:
  11. Interesting. I have no need to pay for the GBE name. I'll check my RO lump bag when I get home to see it specifies the wood used.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  12. bigboismoker

    bigboismoker Newbie

    Just started smoking. On first successful smoke i used Cowboy lump. But after speaking to a buddy of mine who swear by Royal oak went on a local searching spree and found 15# bags at Walmart for less than$10 a bag. I will be trying it out this weekend.
  13. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Before KBB changed their formula from a 20 lb bag to an 18.6 lb bag for the same number of briquettes per bag, I could get 20-23 hours out of a full load in my WSM when in the 225-250F chamber range.  I ran out of my 20 lb bags last year and started using the 18.6 lb bags.  On the shorter, higher temp smokes (275F+), they work fine, which is pretty much all I did last year. 

    Recently though, I've had to do overnight, lower temp smokes (225-250F) trying to work around the weather and my schedule.    On the longer, lower temp smokes, I've pretty much burned up a full load at 16-17 hours, then need to add more hot briquettes.  KBB is still the cheapest thing on the market, but I just might have to try briquettes from TJ's or RO for the upcoming season to see how I like them. 
  14. saynaw

    saynaw Fire Starter

    B@B charcoal is very good it's made from oak good long consistent burn
  15. kam59

    kam59 Smoking Fanatic

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