What NOT to use - Cowboy Lump

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by alexhortdog95, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. So, as others have seen on another post, I've just made a coal basket and some other mods to my CG smoker.  The unfortunate thing I have to deal with is that there's only one place around Omaha that sells any other brand of lump other than Cowboy - and they were out.

    So I had to bite the bullet.

    I got the lump, and was satisfied with the burn.  When my smoker had cooled, I went to go clean out the basket, and found this:



    Yes, folks, that IS a piece of METAL!!!

    Thankfully, I didn't have any meat on the smoker when this happened.  So I sent Cowboy an email about it, letting them know how upset I was:

    To: [email protected]
    Subject: COMPLAINT!!!
    Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2011 21:14:51 -0500

    .ExternalClass .ecxhmmessage P{padding:0px;}.ExternalClass body.ecxhmmessage{font-size:10pt;font-family:Tahoma;} To whom it may concern:
    I purchased a bag of your Cowboy Lump Hardwood Charcoal about a month ago.  I got it from a local vendor here.  The bag was not damaged, and it was full of very large pieces of lump.
    I reviewed your lump charcoal on a website that specializes in lump charcoal.  I saw that it was rated average at best, but I still decided to try the lump since the review was very old.
    I did a burn on some of your lump today, and found a piece of METAL IN THE LUMP.
    I am very concerned about this, and would like to know what you are doing to resolve this?  The review on the website I read was a couple of years old, but it seemed that they had the EXACT SAME ISSUE back in 2007 with your charcoal.
    Very Irate and Angry,

    Omaha Nebraska
    P.S. - I will be sending you photos of the piece of metal I found in my bag of charcoal.  This is very VERY UNACCEPTABLE!!!


    So then, I waited for a response.  A few days went by, and I got nothing.  So I sent this:

    Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2011 11:05 AM
    To: [email protected]
    Subject: RE: COMPLAINT!!!

    Dear CowboyCharcoal,
    I still have as of yet to receive any kind of a correspondence from you about the foreign matter I found in the bag of Cowboy Charcoal.  I am awaiting a response to my inquiry.
    Thank you.
    Omaha, Nebraska

    The next day, I got this back in return:

    From: [email protected]
    Subject: RE: COMPLAINT!!!
    Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2011 07:45:46 -0500


    .ExternalClass .ecxshape{;} .ExternalClass p.ecxMsoNormal, .ExternalClass li.ecxMsoNormal, .ExternalClass div.ecxMsoNormal{margin-bottom:.0001pt;font-size:12.0pt;font-family:'Times New Roman','serif';}.ExternalClass a:link, .ExternalClass span.ecxMsoHyperlink{color:blue;text-decoration:underline;}.ExternalClass a:visited, .ExternalClass span.ecxMsoHyperlinkFollowed{color:purple;text-decoration:underline;}.ExternalClass p{margin-right:0in;margin-left:0in;font-size:12.0pt;font-family:'Times New Roman','serif';}.ExternalClass span.ecxEmailStyle18{font-family:'Calibri','sans-serif';color:#1F497D;}.ExternalClass .ecxMsoChpDefault{font-size:10.0pt;}@page Section1{size:8.5in 11.0in;}.ExternalClass div.ecxSection1{page:Section1;}



    We apologize for your poor experience with our product. Please know that no metal should ever be in a bag of our charcoal. This is something that we will immediately address with our production staff at our plant.


    Please send me your address so we can send you a $20 rebate check for your troubles.


    Once again, please accept our apology.





    Stephen Heiman

    Sales and Marketing Manager

    Cowboy Charcoal, LLC.

    P.O. Box 3770

    Brentwood, TN 37024

    (615) 661-6882


    [email protected]

    I'll let you all know if I get the twenty bucks.  All I'm going to do is spend it on some Fire King.  That piece of metal could have poisoned me and my family.
  2. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks like Galvanized to me, any rust on it?
  3. smokinal

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

    I bought Cowboy lump 1 time & was unimpressed, I think RO is much better.
  4. metal man

    metal man Fire Starter

    I have not tried the Cowboy lump myself yet. But i have read many bad reviews on it. That's why i have steered clear of it so far. I almost always use the Royal Oak Lump but i have in the past ( twice) dug a piece of what looked like concrete out of the bottom of my grill after using the RO. And i have a buddy that done the same thing. Looks like quality control might be a bit low with both of them.
  5. is the cowboy lumb in the US different than what we get in Canada?  I have gone through 6 bags of it and never found anything wrong with it myself.

  6. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have used a few bags and I'm not a big fan. I have never found any stuff in my bags but I have heard of similar stories to yours.
  7. realtorterry

    realtorterry Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have also had to use it a few times & NOT a fan! try going to wally world they usually have RO in stock
  8. rp ribking

    rp ribking Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I have been getting the 20lb bags of cowboy lump lately and have not found any funny stuff in the bags. 
  9. No offense or anything but is this really that big of a deal? all things considered im sure they get the wood they process from various sources and im sure some of them do a better job sorting out crap like that than others do. Now I do not personally use cowboy charcoal so I don't know how frequent this occurs but I will say on more than one occasion I have found rocks in my bags of Royal oak lump.... I can understand being upset if you found something like that in every bag of charcoal you buy but is it really worth getting that upset about? Did it cause you any harm? Did you smoker spontaneously combust because of this???

    Think about it like this, how many tens if not hundreds of thousands of bags of charcoal do they sell a year? Probably quite a few... if it was really that common of a problem im sure we would have heard about it by now. Its unfortunate you were one of the unlucky ones but crying about it on the internet isnt going to solve your problem. Just buy a different brand next time or switch to briquettes. I have a feeling its a piece of aluminum because I would assume they run this stuff under a magnet prior to packaging.
    mr brisket likes this.
  10. porked

    porked Smoking Fanatic

    I've used both, RO beats the Cowboy brand easily. Never found any problems with the contents of either brand. Of course I just don't dump it in either, I grab some with both hands and fill the basket, so I would have seen any metal or boogeymen in there.
  11. None taken.  Let me answer....

    First - they have a claim on their website that says the following:

     "All-Natural 100% Charcoal, no coal, no fillers or chemicals!"

    Plywood, rocks, and pieces of metal are what I would call fillers.

    Second - before I posted anything on this forum, the first person I contacted was the company.  As you can see in my email, all I wanted was an explanation of how a piece of metal from Lord knows where got into my bag of charcoal that I paid for.  I'm not saying anybody is perfect, and mistakes are made.  That's all I was seeking from the company, and I wanted them to know I wasn't happy with the product I received, as it's my very first bag of Cowboy.  In posting on this forum, I've seen many a poster pine AGAINST Cowboy....but I was willing to give them a chance.  I wasn't seeking any kind of refund, I just wanted an answer as a consumer.

    Next - I choose not to wait until my smoker "spontaneously combusts," or it causes anybody any harm.  I'm putting food into my smoker.  If this were just firewood or something that would burn outside I wouldn't care, but I'm placing my food into the smoker with this stuff.  I'd like to trust that there's no foreign matter in the wood that would harm me.

    Also, I posted this on the forum to give feedback on the project I had undertaken, and this is one of the results of that project.

    Most importantly - I have a beautiful wife and two lovely daughters, and the idea of me accidently poisioning them with some kind of unknown metal doesn't sit very well with me.  Thankfully, I was testing the mods out on my smoker before hand and caught this.  I could care less if it were steel, rubber, gold, silver, or whatever - it shouldn't be in there, plain and simple.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2011
  12. I think it might be time to switch to a more processed fuel source, perhaps propane? I hate to say it but I think the presence of foreign objects in lump charcoal probably occurs far more frequently then you would care to know. Fortunately the likelihood of you being poisoned by something that survived being carbonized is probably slim to none. In fact I would go as far to say that you are more like to be killed by carbon monoxide poisoning while operating your smoker than by an over sized piece of aluminum foil that managed to find its way into your charcoal.

    I respect the fact that you are concerned about your families health I just think its a bit silly to get this bent out of shape over something in your charcoal when your saturating your food with smoke and then wrapping it in more metal....
    mr brisket likes this.
  13. And what brand of lump do you use?

    Who said I'm that bent out of shape?  I just want to get what I paid for, and I want to ensure that what I'm paying for meets my expectations.

    When you go to the local burger joint and ask for a double cheeseburger, if they gave you a single with a large piece of tomato and a piece of  ham, what would you do?
  14. I really don't want to argue apples and oranges with you. I am not saying you are wrong and by no means am I saying its right for there to be potentially hazardous materials in your charcoal. I am just saying in the grand scheme of things, is this problem really so severe you need to let it ruin you day? I use royal oak lump because its readily available and cheap in my area, I have found a rock or two on more than on occasion but it doesn't seem to affect the q.

    Happy smokin'!

    mr brisket likes this.
  15. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Allrighty then.... I can see where this is going.

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion, so I will share mine.

    Foreign materials in a fuel source such as wood or charcoal is definitely a big deal to me, maybe not others but to me it is.

    [size=-1]Galvanized metal will emit zinc fumes  and cause metal fume fever. Ozone can also be emitted and prolonged exposure to ozone can cause lung damage.[/size]

    I don't know if the temp in a firepit burning lump gets hot enough to emit the fumes but I would be pissed if I just got done a huge cook and found a piece of galvanized in my firebox.

    I have used Cowboy once and did not find anything inside and thought it was fine.

    Now I just touched on one material found in lump, what if it was a piece of rubber from a boot or some type of plastic?

    I have recently been making my own lump and its no harder than going to the store to buy a bag, however it takes 24 hours.

    I have to touch on a few other things as well, IMHO The OP did the right thing by notifying their customer service and making them aware of the problem and then letting his fellow smokers know of the issue. From his post, what I got out of it was "buyer beware", and I thank him for that.

    Irie you are entitled to an opinion as well, but to say the man crying about it on the internet isn't going to solve your problem,   is just wrong... as well as this statement
    I think it might be time to switch to a more processed fuel source, perhaps propane? Totally out of line!

    I thought this forum was to educate and learn from one another, not to badger each other.

    I try to use the experiences from others to make my experience with smoking the best I can, and so far it has been a great ride.

    My apologies to anyone that takes offense to this post.


  16. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thank you SQWIB

    When I get moved in to the new place I am getting a WSM and start making my own charcoal.

    Do you have your method postered on your site??

    I have seen several..


  17. Again, none taken.  Also, I don't want to come off as getting in a pissing contest with irie.  Everybody is entitled to their own opinion.  I just know that I take pride in the food I serve, being new to this.

    I did the smoke to practice my long, low and slow cooks.  I also did it to see if my charcoal basket would hold up as well, seeing as how I'm a computer programmer by trade...and not a craftsman.  This has become a bit more than a hobby for me, as I've spent the money on extra parts and tools (like others have as well).  I made sure I got materials that wouldn't throw chemicals into my food.  I've researched, asked questions about it, etc.

    I've also got people here at work asking me questions about smoking meats, so I want to make sure I give the most informed answers I can, because frankly, the guys here on this post, the guys over at BarbequeWeb.com, Deacon J. Dillard (one of my fellow church members) along with others have helped me along the way in all of this, and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

    It would only be wise for me to pass forward the knowledge and experience I gain to others to help them out.  Someone helped me along the way.

    As far as making your own lump, that sounds exciting!  How many times did you have to practice it before you got it right?
  18. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  19. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    3 times

    Here's a post on how I make my own

    Making Lump Charcoal
  20. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    Craig here's the Lump Post

    Making Lump

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