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Briquettes vs lump charcoal

bhambrewer

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If I have understood "project fire" by Steven Raichlen correctly, the biggest difference between briquettes and lump charcoal is that you don't have to wait for the lump to ash over, you can start as soon as they are alight, and top up as needed on the go.

Have I made some horrible mistake in what I read? Or is this a fair summary?

Thanks.
 

chef jimmyj

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That is true. Lump burns Hotter and Cleaner than Briquettes with a lot less Ash. Get a good hot Lump Fire going, blow off surface ash and you can Sear meat directly on the Lump Embers. You don't get billowing white Smoke from adding unlit lump to a fire...JJ
 

bhambrewer

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That is true. Lump burns Hotter and Cleaner than Briquettes with a lot less Ash. Get a good hot Lump Fire going, blow off surface ash and you can Sear meat directly on the Lump Embers. You don't get billowing white Smoke from adding unlit lump to a fire...JJ
Just so I can make sure I'm grokking this: lump charcoal, once lit, is good to go immediately for smoking, grilling, or even using the lit surface of the lump charcoal as the grill surface?!!?
 

JC in GB

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I have found that much depends on which brand of charcoal you use. I find that Kingsford gives you a petrol taste if you cook on it before it is ashed. I haven't noticed that with Royal Oak (I use GFS store brand briquettes which are RO.)

I haven't noticed a significant difference between the flavor of briquettes over lump. That is why I switched back to briquettes as they are just easier to use. IMHO

As Chef Jimmy pointed out, you can sear meat directly on lump charcoal. I wouldn't do that with briquettes.

As with all things BBQ, there are many ways to achieve success. You should make your own determination as to what heats best, tastes best, etc.

Folks are quick to let you know what works for them and that is great but sometimes that really isn't what you are looking for.

As you venture forth in the world of BBQ, you will undoubtedly come to your own conclusions about what works for you and your cooking style and what does not.

Happy smoking..... :emoji_sunglasses:

JC :emoji_cat:
 

bhambrewer

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JC, I have Kingsford briquettes and Royal Oak lump. I am going to smoke spare ribs tomorrow and worried about heat management during the 3 hours smoking. It sounds like I don't need to worry about that with the lump, I can just lob more on the fire?

Going by your handle you have a connection to the UK....?
 

JC in GB

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JC, I have Kingsford briquettes and Royal Oak lump. I am going to smoke spare ribs tomorrow and worried about heat management during the 3 hours smoking. It sounds like I don't need to worry about that with the lump, I can just lob more on the fire?

Going by your handle you have a connection to the UK....?
A genetic connection perhaps but in this case, GB stands for Green Bay. Home of the Green Bay Packers. :emoji_sunglasses:

I agree with your approach. You can add unlit lump to your cooker on the fly to keep the burn going.

I wouldn't use unlit Kingsford for my cooks. That said, Champion Pit Master Harry Soo uses Kingsford charcoal in a WSM smoker for competition so take my words for what they are. This is what works for me. You may have an entirely different experience.

You will do fine. Lump charcoal works great and I never had a problem using it.

JC :emoji_cat:
 

phatbac

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what kind of smoker are you using? i have found briquettes to work better in some smokers and lump is better in other cases. I try to use RO lump or briqs whenever possible.
But the Steven Raichlen info is spot on.

Happy Smoking,
phatbac (Aaron)
 

bhambrewer

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what kind of smoker are you using? i have found briquettes to work better in some smokers and lump is better in other cases. But the Steven Raichlen info is spot on.

Happy Smoking,
phatbac (Aaron)
I bought myself a Char-Griller Texas Trio. It's a propane and charcoal grill, and has an offset smoker. My wife and kiddo have been enjoying me using all of those, but tomorrow is the real test with the ribs. As I just explained to kiddo, I want nice, tasty ribs, not burned yuck, after 6 or so hours, hence the questions I asked here :emoji_wink:
 

chopsaw

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biggest difference between briquettes and lump charcoal is that you don't have to wait for the lump to ash over, you can start as soon as they are alight, and top up as needed on the go.
Some of the thought is any impurities have already been burned out of the lump .
 

noboundaries

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Lump is carbonized wood. The only time you'll get any flavor from it is when it isn't completely carbonized. It isn't a bad thing unless it includes treated scraps from furniture making, soft woods, etc.

Unsellable pieces of lump end up in the crusher as part of the briquette making process, along with other carbonized products like sawdust.

The quality of briquettes varies widely due to additives. "All Natural" implies healthy in the advertising and marketing world, but may include "natural" petroleum-related ingredients. After all, raw oils and tars ooze out of the ground naturally. Sand is also a natural ingredient. It takes some digging, but you can usually find what goes into a briquette by Kingsford, Royal Oak, Weber, B&B, etc. It's worth your time.
 

phatbac

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Keep in mind that babies will cook faster than your spares. also make sure you use a good thermometer to probe to temp not time. you want 195 between the bones for bite through or 200 for FotB. and a cheaper unit doesn't have trustworthy therm gauges so you could think you are at 225 when you aren't.

Happy Smoking,
phatbac (Aaron)
 

bhambrewer

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you want 195 between the bones for bite through or 200 for FotB. and a cheaper unit doesn't have trustworthy therm gauges so you could think you are at 225 when you aren't.

Happy Smoking,
phatbac (Aaron)
I have a probe thermometer. I'll stick it between middle ribs and set it for 195f.

Thanks all for sharing information so freely :)
 

thirdeye

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If I have understood "project fire" by Steven Raichlen correctly, the biggest difference between briquettes and lump charcoal is that you don't have to wait for the lump to ash over, you can start as soon as they are alight, and top up as needed on the go.

Have I made some horrible mistake in what I read? Or is this a fair summary?

Thanks.
That's a fair summary. Lump will be ready sooner than briquettes, but with either you have to wait for the VOC's (volatile organic compounds) to burn off and for the fire to settle down and become a true cooking fire. Take a sniff near your top vent and fan the smoke with your hand. If it smells bitter or strong the fire is not ready for cooking because that is what your food will taste like.

A grillng fire is ready before a barbecuing fire, and in some cases a mix of lump and briquettes works well. I can have a decent grilling fire in 30 or 40 minutes, but I need about an hour for a barbecuing (smoking) fire.
 

jcam222

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Not directly related to your question but I read something interesting about briquettes recently. I read that briquettes tend to create a more pronounced smoke ring as they put off far more of the glasses that interact with the specific proteins in meat that create the ring. I’ll have to see if I can find it again. I think it may have been an article by Meathead.
 

thirdeye

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Not directly related to your question but I read something interesting about briquettes recently. I read that briquettes tend to create a more pronounced smoke ring as they put off far more of the glasses that interact with the specific proteins in meat that create the ring. I’ll have to see if I can find it again. I think it may have been an article by Meathead.
Briquettes use nitrates as a binder to help with more even burning after ignition. Nitrates with some surface moisture will help the smoke ring development while the meat is <140°.
 

bhambrewer

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I double checked the "ingredients" list on the Royal Oak lump charcoal I bought and it says American oak with a food grade vegetable based binder. I'll start them in the chimney and check the smell before exposing the naked meat to the aroma.

Thank you, everyone!
 
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