Wood charcoal vs briquettes?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by geodudeeatsmeat, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. howdy friends.  i am new to smoking and have a question regarding charcoal.  years ago i worked in a restaurant which had a huge indoor grill.  we would pour a 50 lb bag of mesquite charcoal, huge chunks, into it then use a gas wand to light it.  it worked well and our steaks were tasty.

    my question is: is that kind of wood charcoal available to us regular folks and do they have some in smaller chunks for my smoker?  it seems like adding that type of charcoal during smoking would be better than the common briquettes.  briquettes seem to have something nasty holding them together that stinks when they are first lit.  which lasts longer and which is better?

    please give me any feedback you might have.


  2. naked whiz does a review on mesquite lump here: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpindexpage.htm?bag and they do other comparisons and reviews as well.

    There's a longstanding debate which comes down to personal preference.  I like Royal Oak lump and 100% natural briquettes like Stubb's. I think folks use briquettes because of the consistency in size and shape.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012
  3. hi bama

    thanks for the response...where i live we only have walmart and safeway..i guess tru-value might have some smoking supplies...all i have to choose from is royal oak/kingsford/walmart brand/safeway brand briquettes which are far from natural i would think.

    where can i go to get the natural briquettes?..thats my main concern...putting unlit briquettes on my fire and my meat soaking up the chemicals they contain...are they available in stores in cities?  i live in the boonies so don't have many options.

    thanks again!

  4. Walmart stocks Royal Oak lump in my area. If you have a Ace Hardware they should be Abel to order it for you.
  5. raastros2

    raastros2 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Aways chose kingsford!.......and a few unlit briquettes wont hurt you as long as you use a chimney starter and not lighter fluid
  6. raastros2

    raastros2 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Most of actuallu put unlit charcoal in our smokers to be lit later by the already hot coals
  7. piaconis

    piaconis Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I use Royal Oak as well from my local Walmart. If you want to know the difference, start a fire with briquettes, then compare to another with lump charcoal. First, the standard briquettes smell like burning sawdust (which is essentially what they are) vs. the burning hardwood smell of lump. Second, lump burns hotter, but faster. IMHO, I enjoy the taste imparted by lump charcoal better, but I have a little more discerning palette than most. I line the bottom of my charcoal basket with briquettes to act as a slow burning safety net should I burn too far without refueling.

    If Walmart by you doesn't have it, you may want to see if they ship to store.

    Hope his helps.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I727 using Tapatalk 2
  8. Welcome GeoDude!

    Lowe's sells Stubb's natural charcoal briquets, which are my personal preference as far as briquets go - though I will occasionally also use Kingsford Competition which are also all natural. BTW, all natural means around 95% hardwood charcoal crushed into briquets and 5% or less vegetable starch binder to hold them in their uniform shape. The ones that don't say all natural could be iffy. Lump charcoal is 100% natural, and also really a nice thing to have on hand in case you need to add additional charcoal (re-load) for a long burn (you should always use a charcoal chimney to start your charcoal, with some crumpled newspaper - never petroleum). Your torch would work too, but I suspect that the gas tanks cost a lot more than old crumpled newspapers.

    As an example of what raastros2 was referring to, the picture below shows a home-made charcoal basket for my Weber Kettle that is filled with unlit briquets in a circular perimeter track with start/stop plate and a central water bowl. 15 lit charcoals were lit in the chimney, and then placed in one end of the track up against start/stop plate for a long slow burn as the "fire" works its way around the perimeter track. This was done for slow cooking a brisket when 10+ hours of burn time without re-loading was needed.

    OTOH, if I were grilling steaks and wanted all my heat over a few hours I would just use a normal Weber charcoal grate, and light a full chimney of charcoals at once and then pour them onto the grate and get going.
  9. Welcome GeoDude, I prefer to use lump charcoal, and if you are near a Walmart they sell Royal Oak lump, if there is a lowe's near you they also sell lump charcoal(Ican't remember the name now, Swiss Cheese Brain)  I used to prefer Kingsford briquets, but after trying the lump, I will now only use lump.  The difference in heat, duration as well as flavor of meat and smell during smoking made me a full believer in lump charcoal.  Of course, that is just my opinion and you should try both and choose what you like best.  Enjoy your journey in the land of smoke!!!  Steve
  10. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have used both royal oak and Kingsford. I find i get higher heat from the royal oak, but go threw more. I buy what ever is on sale between the two. I use a chimney starter and no lighter fluid. The only time I had any off taste was when I grabbed a bag of kingsford match light by mistake. It wasn't over powering but it had a different taste. 
  11. Briquettes suck butt big time!
    Most commercial lump sucks butt too!
    It's usually a bunch of odd sized crap!

    It's best to make your own.

  12. mr500

    mr500 Meat Mopper

    YUPP old skool. Make you own.

    I cant anymore because of the place I recently moved too and it suks lol

  13. Forgot to mention I also burn mostly wood in my offset side firebox rig, using some charcoal to get it going with a quick bed of hot coals and then adding quartered de-barked logs less than16" long. That works well if you have a big firebox on your smoker/grill and just set aside smaller pieces of seasoned wood from your woodstove/fireplace wood.

    I was laughing at some of the comments on commercially bought lump charcoal! Yes, Lowe's and HD sell "Cowboy" brand lump charcoal, and some bags I have bought do have a nice assortment of chunk sizes, but I have bought some other bags that had one or two giant chunks and a bunch of charcoal dust (not very uniform sized chunks).
  14. bryce

    bryce Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for the heads up on the Stubbs brand Ski-Freak. I just picked up a bag tonight at Lowes in preparation for my rib smoke tomorrow.
  15. grinder

    grinder Smoke Blower

    I like the Stubbs brickets for my Weber kettle. I use Malis' lump in the Primo, because Primo recommends only using lump in their grills.
  16. grinder

    grinder Smoke Blower

    I forgot, it's the Malis' that's made in the USA, not the imported.
  17. bryce

    bryce Smoking Fanatic

    I just fired up the Stubbs for the first time. Many more crackle sounds, few more ashes and a different smell than Kingsford. Uncertain on whether or not i'll burn through more Stubbs than KF at this point but honestly i couldnt care since it's natural.

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