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Old 11-20-2010, 09:38 PM   #1
chromestacks
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Default charcoal lump vs briquette

Hey brothers and sisters,

I am new to this site and have been hearing a lot of talk about lump charcoal. Other than physical shape and composition, what are the differences from briquette? Does lump burn hotter? Longer? I scored some "cowboy lump" charcoal from lowes for 5.49 for 8.8lb bags. Is that a good price? also any one familiar with the brand? Where is a good outlet to buy lump from? I think once I start using it, I probably will not go back to the beick style. I appreciate your advice. Thanks.

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Old 11-20-2010, 09:45 PM   #2
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Lump does burn hotter and faster depending on how much air flow there is to the fire. Great for smokers! It also leaves considerably less ash and burns cleaner because of the lack of fillers that are in briquettes. I am not fond of Cowboy and use mostly Royal Oak (Walmart). Wicked good Lump is great but hard to find local and shipping is a killer. There are many good brands out there but RO is consistent and easy to find.

I will do a few low temp smokes and salvage the lump and use it for a hot n Fast cooks for Steaks and Burgers. Just need to be careful on hot n fast as it does get hot if not controlled with air flow.
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Old 11-20-2010, 09:48 PM   #3
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Cowboy sucks. Seriously. Take it back and get your money refunded. Then go get some lump that is worth a damn. If you try and use that Cowboy garbage, you will simply be disappointed and then you will mistakenly think that lump charcoal sucks. The truth is, it only sucks because it's Cowboy.

Terry already covered all this I think, but here goes. Lump burns hotter, faster, and produces much LESS ash than briquettes. However, you control the temperature with lump the same as with briquettes. Since lump burns hotter, to keep your cooker at 250 you will have your intakes closed more than with briquettes is all this means.

Lump produces flavor in your food that tastes like wood smoke. That's because you are burning pieces of wood that have been pre-burned down to coals for you. Briquettes do not give you that flavor because they have to put in other things to form the briquette, sacrificing this wood flavor. Kingsford adds in even more stuff to make it burn longer, making it even less smokey tasting.

Check around and see if you can find some Royal Oak lump.

Depending on the cooker you are using, you are likely to permanently switch to lump as long as you give it a fair shot, and use some good lump.
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Old 11-20-2010, 09:51 PM   #4
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I never touch the stuff . Use real wood
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Old 11-20-2010, 10:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jestridge View Post
I never touch the stuff . Use real wood
Mmmkay.

But the question was about lump vs. briquettes.

Cowboy is made from leftover flooring, furniture, and wood trim scraps. The source wood has been kiln dried, and it just burns way too hot and fast.

I have found that all natural briquettes are a viable alternative to the Kingsford brand of briqs; Royal Oak Chef's Select being my new fave. I too really like RO Lump, but would like to buy it in 20 to 40 lb bags, and it's not available for me that way.

If you use RO lump, you just need to pack it in tight to minimize air gaps. What do you cook on?
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Old 11-20-2010, 10:10 PM   #6
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You might also find a charcoal (lump) place that sells powered and moulded lump, so you get more consistency in size, but it's pure charcoal, not the chemical stuff in briquettes.

Only downside with lump is that often the pieces are small and fall through the grates. If you can learn to use it, it's the best. I personally still use briquettes as lump is really expensive in Australia.
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:00 PM   #7
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Here is my experience with lump and briquettes.

I like the raw heat of lump, and love to use it to grill steaks, where BTUs are critical to making a steak that is perfectly charred on the outside and nice and medium rare on the inside.

Other than that, it is hard to use for anything else.

First, it does burn hot, which is fine, as long as the chunks are relatively even in size. I can deal with that. But, the chunks range from tiny to huge, so I am better off with wood that I cut myself.

Second, in shipping, about a third of the lump in a bag turns to dust or crumbs. So, I waste a third of every bag of lump charcoal.

So, I do use lump from time to time, to grill some USDA Prime steak, but I choose each and every chunk, and just assume that I will throw away a bunch of powder and crumbs from every bag I buy.

I love the concept of natural lump charcoal, but have not found it to work out in the real world. I'm hoping Steve Jobs likes BBQ, and creates a lump charcoal "for the rest of us."

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Old 11-20-2010, 11:07 PM   #8
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It's been awhile, but my first experience with lump was Cowboy as well. It does tend to burn hot and sparks a lot- probably due to it's source (hardwood floors/furniture). I still found it much better than Kingsford for my use in a smoker. I'd give it a try and see how it works for you but don't make your final decision based on it. I get Royal Oak from Walmart- some is better than others, but the made in USA stuff is pretty good- keep looking and you may find another local source. I will take some getting used to, but lump will give you beter results.
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:19 PM   #9
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Use Kingsford "Competition" briquets and be done with it. 95% wood with a little starch to hold it together.
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:51 PM   #10
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I've been liking lump. Seems it's kinda hard to find good stuff around where I live, but I've discovered "ship to store" Royal Oak at the DoitBest. I also use Trader Joe's briquettes which if I'm not mistaken is rebadged Rancher. It's briquettes made of hardwood with a little cornstarch for a binder. Makes more ash than lump but seems to be good stuff.

There is a massive amount of info on lump on the Naked Whiz website:
http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumprankpoll.htm
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Old 11-21-2010, 12:20 AM   #11
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What do I cook on?.......Small collection in my arsenal...36" custom reverse flow for the big shows/cooks, 1 ECB, 1 16"reverse flow mini custom, WSM2x, and in process of an UDS. Thanks for the ingo guys and gals keep it comming. I will probably burn the cowboy if nothing more than to burn the UDS.
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Old 11-21-2010, 12:31 AM   #12
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I use both, I like lump for the reasons pointed out above. I like briquettes as they are a more manufactured product and more consistent. They will work for smoke as long as you add wood for flavor. I have used the natural briqs and like them a lot, flavor is different than Kingsford, not better or worse, just different.
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Old 11-21-2010, 07:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chromestacks View Post
What do I cook on?.......Small collection in my arsenal...36" custom reverse flow for the big shows/cooks, 1 ECB, 1 16"reverse flow mini custom, WSM2x, and in process of an UDS. Thanks for the ingo guys and gals keep it comming. I will probably burn the cowboy if nothing more than to burn the UDS.
Yeah, that's a pretty good use for cowboy, not to cook in the UDS, but for burning one out. The fire won't last too long.
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Old 11-21-2010, 08:42 AM   #14
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I used Kingsford briquettes for the longest time on my Backwoods Party. It certainly lights easily, burns evenly and is easy enough to manage....but the amount of ash it produces as it burns is a problem.

Unless you regularly shuffle the briquettes around, they build up enough ash to stifle the fire. In my older backwoods party, the fire pan has no grate, which meant a lot of fire maintenance, trying to separate the ash from the burning charcoal every couple of hours. What a pain in the ass and what a waste of charcoal (because you can't separate the small burning bits from the ash). I eventually switched to a BWS Fat Boy with a fire grate, but ash continued to plague me.

Even worse for me than the fire maintenance issue was ash in the cooking chamber. I'd get quite a bit of ash carried in with the heat and smoke via convection. It would get so bad sometimes, I'd notice a significant layer of ash on top of anything wrapped in foil in the cooker. What wasn't wrapped didn't look ashy, but the moisture in the food must have been absorbing the stuff. Yuk.

Now I'm using lump. I tried Cowboy (because they sell it at my local supermarket) and as everyone else has said, it sucked. Now I'm using Wicked Good. It burns really evenly and slowly (although it takes a lot more to get it lit then kingsford), and I don't notice any more ash in the cooking chamber. The stuff is great, probably even worth the price and the amount of tiny bits and dust I get in each bag.
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Old 11-21-2010, 08:47 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Spode View Post
You might also find a charcoal (lump) place that sells powered and moulded lump, so you get more consistency in size, but it's pure charcoal, not the chemical stuff in briquettes.

Only downside with lump is that often the pieces are small and fall through the grates. If you can learn to use it, it's the best. I personally still use briquettes as lump is really expensive in Australia.

For my Weber's I buy two charcoal grate and lay them on top of each other to make an "expanded metal" style grate. By doing so I get twice as long use out of the coals whether it's briquettes or lump.

John
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