Kingsford Briquettes --> Lump Charcoal?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by dburne, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Hey gang,

    I am sure this has been discussed a lot on the forums, I am still pretty new here.

    Now that I am getting the hang of smoking, especially using the minion method with a charcoal basket - should I consider going from briquettes to lump? I have only been using Kingsford Briquettes to date - doing my 4th smoke today. I picked up a couple of 20 lb bags on sale at Lowes, so I still have little over 40 lbs to go through . Obviously will use that up first.

    From what I have read, I understand the real benefit to lump versus briquettes - is the lump burns hotter and cleaner?

    So, does it burn up faster than briquettes? I think also from what I have read here, is the lump is a little more clumsy to get sorted in the basket for the minion method, might have to take time to arrange them by hand?

    So think I should consider going to Lump, or stick with the briquettes now that I know what I am doing with them?

    Just curious, thanks,

  2. danbury

    danbury Smoking Fanatic

    Lump burns a bit hotter than briquettes, has way less ash and if you use a good quality lump, the smoke flavor is considerably superior to what little if any that briquettes has to offer. I use lump in my UDS exclusively and will never use briquettes again if I can help it. Personally I've never noticed anything clumsy about filling my basket, but I don't do minion stuff, I have a rather large basket and just fill it. I toss in a few lumps of raw hardwood, i.e. oak, hickory, pecan or what ever. I start a few "lumps" on fire with a weed burner on each side of the basket and then put in the pit to stabilize. If I'm cooking pork, that means a temp of 225 - 235 with little or no smoke coming out of the vent. Stabilizing may take anywhere from 1/2 hour to 1 hour. If I'm cooking chicken, as I am right now, I open the vents and get the temp up to 300, give or take 10 degrees and I don't want any smoke coming out of the vents. I use Royal Oak Lump in the green bag. It's really decent stuff. Not the best, but certainly not the worst. You do have to sometimes pick junk out when you pour into your basket.... I think I run into some kind of junk about every other bag. Personally I would stay away from Cowboy brand lump. Unless things have changed in the past 5 years, that stuff is like using skunkwood. Here's a link to a site that has reviews of different lumps out there. Others can chime in on their preferences as well.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2013
  3. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Dude, buy a bag of lump and see what happens. If you like it, buy more. If you don't, try something else. This isn't a lifetime commitment. It's charcoal. You'll get through this.
  4. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Thanks Danbury, I really appreciate your feedback and your experiences!
  5. danbury

    danbury Smoking Fanatic

    Do try it though.  Not sure what kind of pit you are using, but it's reasonably air tight like a UDS where when you close the vents all down the fire goes out, then after a short "adjustment" period getting use to it, and I don't see it taking long, I think you would be happy with the lump. You just have to find a decent lump brand in your area.  Review that site I put up and see what is available.
  6. smokngun

    smokngun Smoke Blower

    I agree with danbury about cowboy brand lump, I would stay away. The link he provided is a valued asset in selecting a good quality charcoal. I like Royal Oak myself and recently purchased a bag of Natures Glo which I have yet to try.
  7. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Cowboy HAS changed in the last couple years. It's actually pretty good stuff nowadays. Larger more uniform pieces and less dust. Fewer "fireworks" too. This is why people should experiment and find what works for THEM. Sorry if my reply sounded snarky, but without trying for yourself all you're going to get is a bunch of opinions on what works and what doesn't for other people.
  8. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I just bought 2 bags of cowboy and terrible size differance.

    The taste use good thou.

    Maybe just my area?
  9. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The 2 bags I've tried in the past couple years have been much better. Really good in fact.
  10. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    This is the first I have tried cowboy.  Maybe it was REALLY bad before.
  11. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    I sure will, I read up on some of the reviews you gave the link to, think I am going to give  the Royal Oak Lump a try here soon.

    I have 4 smokes under my belt now, spare ribs - the ones today came out excellent - I just modded my OKJ Longhorn Offset earlier this week, it did really good today.

    Thanks again,
  12. danbury

    danbury Smoking Fanatic

    On your first cook with lump, just be patient with it to see how it different from what you have been use to.  Lump is really forgiving in my opinion if you control the temp for what you are cooking.  I can't tell you a thing about what to do on your OKJ as I have cooked on UDS smokers pretty much all my life.  Just have fun doing it!
  13. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Will do, especially now as I have this smoker where I can keep consistent temps and regulated, thanks Danbury - really appreciate the info.
  14. danbury

    danbury Smoking Fanatic

    I just found your posts with the images of your pit.  Man.. you shouldn't have any issues what so ever going to lump.  Looks like you did a really good job on the mods and if you already know how to regulate those temps... you're there!  Nice pit.  Mine is ugly as hell, but sure does do some good "q".
  15. dburne

    dburne Meat Mopper

    Thanks!  Yes I did some serious modding this week. It all came together at the same time, got the gasket in, got the convection plate and charcoal basket in from Horizon on Friday, after about an 8 week wait.

    That smoker was a huge improvement today over what it had been, now that the leaks are sealed and temp more constant.

    Of course all that I did, was thanks to the members of this great forum and information I had read up on here over the past couple of months.
  16. naturemuzic

    naturemuzic Newbie

    If I missed it, I apologize, but if is there a difference in the amount of lump vs. briquettes? I still have yet to even smoke a piece of meat, as I only did the no food burn, but I had the briquettes about 2 deep around the grate. Does the lump have to be that much or a single layer & does the lump work well with the Minion method? And let me ask this; how feasible would it be to use the Minion method, with lump around the grate but use briquettes in the center to start the lump?

    I got the grate & used some 3/8X 1& 1/2 screws to allow the ashes to sift through. The vents are due here possibly today, so whenever I get those & installed I will attempt about 6# of spareribs!

    Thanks in advance!
  17. danbury

    danbury Smoking Fanatic

    NatureMuzic, As I said above, I use a UDS exclusively for my bbqs.  It's air tight, meaning that when I close off the exhaust and the intakes at the bottom, the fire goes out with in a few minutes.  I fill the charcoal basket to the top with lump charcoal and using a weed burner, start some lumps on each side of the basket.  Taking a wild guess, I'd say probably 3 -6 lumps on each side of the basket. I then put the basket in the UDS, open the top vent and the intakes all the way and let the temperature stabilize to what ever temp I need, i.e. 225 - 235 for pork butts/bbribs and wait till all signs of white smoke are gone and I have very faint wisps of blue smoke adjusting the intake vents a little at a time to maintain temp.  I can run that pit for 20 hours, possibly longer on a full basket of lump charcoal at the above temps.  So, I guess if you wanted to be specific about it, that's a minion method.  I am not familiar with other pits so someone else may come along and advise you on what ever pit you have other than a UDS.

    I do not use briquettes for anything.  I just don't see a need for it.  If you can control the temperature of your pit to what ever you want, then use what ever you want.  My opinion is a good quality lump charcoal is far superior to briquettes, which is compressed "who knows what kind of sawdust" with binders.  The image is of my charcoal basket with the measurements.

    Sorry if I can't answer your question directly if you are not using a UDS.

    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  18. naturemuzic

    naturemuzic Newbie

    No, I am using a first time, MF Vertical Smoker, so it's a very different set up & this is anything but leak proof! I did shore up around the door as best I could.

     Thanks anyway for your info. I am just trying to gather some opinions of the lump vs briquettes & the amount I would need in the smoker I have or a similar one.

     Again, thanks & happy smoking !

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