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Kingsford Briquettes vs. Royal Oak Ridge Briquettes: Burn Temperature, Time, and Ash Comparison

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by noboundaries, May 24, 2017.

  1. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It's that time of year just before Memorial Day when "bulk" charcoal goes on and off sale, with deep discounts, up to 50%.  July 4th will be the next opportunity, then Labor Day.  After Labor Day you can often find "clearance" sales that are unbelievable as stores empty their summer stock to make room for Christmas, etc.  I once picked up 20 lb bags of Lazzari Mesquite Lump charcoal for something like $3.30 a bag.  I bought all they had.

    But I digress.  I've noticed that the recent reformulation of Kingsford Original has cut into my long smoke time by quite a bit, dropping from 18-20, sometimes 22 hours, down to 14-16, maybe 18 hours.  When I open my WSM to add fuel, it looks like a huge ash pillow with a few little red, glowing eyes looking up at you from the pillow.   

    I still have 120 lbs of the pre-formulation KBB remaining, having used up a few hundred pounds of the new stuff.  As I restock during these sales, I felt it might be time for a change. 

    Lowes has Royal Oak "Ridge" briquettes on sale through 6/14/17 (edit)  for $4.00 for a 15.4 lb bag, or 26 cents a pound.  But I wanted to know how it compared to the Kingsford.  Being the engineer (by education) that I am, time for a test.  Below are the results.

    Conclusion:  The new Kingsford Original is worse than what I tested below.  The Royal Oak Ridge, though it produced the exact same amount of ash as the old Kingsford formula, held temps longer and WAY outlasted the KBB.  Even the ash held onto heat significantly longer than the KBB.  I have pics of the entire process, including how the briquettes slowly disappeared.  Right now I have to go buy some more Royal Oak Ridge Charcoal. 

    Although I haven't smoked with it yet, I will this weekend. 

    Kingsford Briquettes vs. Royal Oak Ridge Briquettes: Burn Temperature, Time, and Ash Comparison

    24 Kingsford Briquettes @ .8 oz each = 19.2 oz.

    24 Royal Oak Ridge Briquettes @ 1.0 oz each = 24 oz.

    Picture of 24 briquettes in a 4 cup measuring cup:


    Royal Oak Ridge: 


    1. Test Kingsford first, complete test, then repeat test with Royal Oak Ridge.

    2. Remove cooking grate from Weber Kettle, put clean pizza pan on charcoal grate, then replace cooking grate.

    3. Load 24 briquettes in a chimney starter, ignite for 2 minutes on propane side burner on gas grill, then put chimney on the cooking grate over the pizza pan.

    4. Wait 15 minutes, then take picture of inside of chimney.Use infrared thermometer to find hottest spot in chimney.Record results.

    5. Repeat picture and thermometer reading every 10 minutes until all charcoal has fallen through to the pizza pan, nothing but ash remains, and the temperature of the ash is less than 100F.

    6. Measure volume of ash.

    7. Start of test: 7 AM PDT. 60F.Light wind.Shade.

    8. End of both tests:11:35 AM PDT.74F.Light wind.Shade.
    Time (minutes)                 Kingsford Temp                                                Royal Oak “Ridge” Temp

    15                                           978F                                                       977F

    25                                           977F                                                       977F

    35                                           863F                                                       977F

    45                                           713F                                                       978F

    55                                           601F                                                       949F

    65                                           473F                                                       681F

    75                                           243F                                                       728F

    85                                           157F                                                       667F

    95                                           201F                                                       466F

    105                                         88F         (1 hr 45 mins)                          343F

    115                                         NA                                                          232F

    125                                         NA                                                          243F

    135                                         NA                                                          189F

    145                                         NA                                                          131F

    155                                         NA                                                          82F         (2 hrs 35 mins) (148% of KBB older formula)

    Kingsford Ash:

    Royal Oak Ridge Ash:

    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
  2. tropics

    tropics Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Ray that is great review!

    I used the RO last year to cook and liked it,the new KBB I bought a bunch on sale and I am not happy with the burn 

    Points for your work

  3. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Point! Thanks so much for doing such a detailed test. Looks like ill skip the blue bag and grab some of the royal  it remains at $4!
    I did grab a few bags for the "Embers" brand, which is apparently the exact same thing, but branded for Home Depot instead of Lowes. It even has the Royal Oak logo on the side. However, they were selling it for $4.99. Ill be swinging by Lowes on my way home from work today.
  4. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks Richie, for the nice words and the point! 
    Thanks T!  The point is greatly appreciated.  When I compared my the Winco grocery stork briquette with the Royal Oak Ridge briquette, they were identical.  Now I know who makes my grocery store's briquettes.  Regular price is $5.48 for a 16.6 lb bag, or 33 cents/lb.  I shop there 2-3 days a week for fresh veggies.  Will have to keep an eye out during the year for sales. 

    I swung by Lowes and picked up 10 more $4 bags.  I should be good now for the year, except some lump here and there. 

    Below are my notes during the two tests.  I'll post a couple comparison pics that are very telling. 

    Kingsford Briquettes, last formulation, not current one.

    7 AM.  Outside temp 60F.  Light wind.  Shade of the house.

    15 minutes on the timer the briquettes were completely ashed over.  Max temp was 978F.

    25 minutes on the timer the briquettes were already starting to ash out.  Hottest temp in the chimney was 977F.

    35 minutes on the timer, three briquettes had fallen through the chimney grate, collecting on the cooking grate.  Max temp had dropped to 863F. 

    45 minutes on the timer, many more briquettes had fallen to the cooking grate.  Max temp was 713F.

    55 minutes on the timer, briquettes were largest briquette was less than half original size.  Max temp was 601F.

    65 minutes on the timer, briquettes were almost gone from the chimney.  Max temp was 473F.

    75 minutes on the timer, the briquettes were just about ash.  A few knocks on the side of the chimney and they disappeared.  One remaining briquette had a 243F temp.  Touched (OUCH!) to confirm temp.  Confirmed. 

    85 minutes on the timer, one “Lonely King” was all that remained, about ½” round.  Temp was 157F. 

    95 minutes on the timer, the Lonely King was still there.  Knocked grate, temp went up to 201F.  Max temp in the ash pile was also 201F, so it may have been reading the ash.  Could feel the heat of the ash with my hand. 

    105 minutes on the timer, the Lonely King was gone and the ash was reading 88F.  Could easily pick it up and move it to the kitchen, out of the light wind, to measure the ash volume.

    Ash: About 400 ml, or a cup and a half.  Fairly fine ash.  There was one tiny red ember still in the cold ash (lesson why to use a metal bucket to store ash for several days). 

    Royal Oak “Ridge” Briquettes. 

    9 AM.  Outside temp 68F.  Light wind.  Shade of the house to start. 

    Slightly noticeable difference in the aroma of the smoke.  Similar to Kingsford, but not as sharp, acrid, or gassy.  Did not burn my eyes initially, but did by the 15 minute mark.

    15 minutes on the timer the briquettes were still half black.  Max temp was 977F.   

    25 minutes on the timer, the briquettes were completely ashed over.  Max temp was 977F.  Some ash on the pizza pan.

    35 minutes on the timer, max temp was 977F.  More ash on the ash pan.  Nothing has fallen through the grate.

    45 minutes on the timer, max temp was 978F.  More ash on the ash pan but still nothing fallen through the grate.

    55 minutes on the timer, max temp 949F.  Briquettes shrinking but nothing has fallen through the grate.

    65 minutes on the timer, max temp dropped to 681F.  Briquettes were falling through the chimney grate.

    75 minutes on the timer, and knocking the chimney a few times to knock off ash, max temp climbed to 728F.  Noticeably more briquettes remaining on the chimney grate than the Kingsford.

    85 minutes on the timer, knocking the chimney a few times, still some briquettes remaining in chimney.  Max temp 667F.

    95 minutes on the timer, couple of knocks, briquettes remaining in chimney.  Max temp 466F.

    105 minutes on the timer, couple of knocks, very few briquettes remaining in chimney or on the cooking grate.  Max temp 343F.

    115 minutes on the timer, couple of knocks, only two briquettes remain in chimney.  Max temp 232F.

    125 minutes on the timer, couple of knocks, everything fell through the chimney and cooking grate.  A few large pieces in the ashes.  Max temp of ashes 243F.

    135 minutes on the timer, ashes only, max temp 189F.

    145 minutes on the timer, ashes only, max temp 131F.

    155 minutes on the timer, ashes only, max temp 82F.
    jimmyinsd likes this.
  5. bbqwillie

    bbqwillie Smoking Fanatic

    Very nice review. Thanks.
  6. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Comparison Pics:

    15 minute Kingsford Original.  Fast start.  Completely ashed over.

    15 minute Royal Oak Ridge.  Still progressing toward ash. 

    45 minute Kingsford Original.  Fading fast.

    45 minute Royal Oak Ridge.  Working hard and still there.

    Kingsford 75 minute.  Almost gone.

    Royal Oak Ridge 75 minute.  Still there, but fading.

    Kingsford 85 minute.  The "Lonely King" briquette.  Almost ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

    Royal Oak Ridge 85 minute, still holding court, but fading.

    Royal Oak Ridge 115 minute.  The last gasp before waiting 40 minutes for the ashes to cool below 100F.

    HalfSmoked and steelhorsep like this.
  7. Thanks again for the dedication to the craft! POINTS!
  8. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    WOW.   Great post.

    The RO is one sale.  Gonna stock up with this post.

  9. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks Willie!  Always a joy to help people.  Thanks for the points!
    Steelhorsep, what a great compliment.  And thanks for the points!
    Adam, happy to help you save money and get charcoal that works for you!  Thanks for the points!
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  10. Thanks for the post.  Last bags of K's seemed different, now know why.  Need to make a trip to Lowe's.
  11. Noboundaries,

    Just got back from Lowe's. Picked up another 100#'s of RO Ridge based on your report. Thanks again. I started a post a few days ago on Royal Oak Lump Charcoal On-Sale at HomeDepot for $7.88.

    My plan is to use 1/2 Royal Oak Lump All Natural Charcoal and 1/2 RO Ridge Briquettes going forward.

    The best part is I was able to stock up with 265 lbs of charcoal (Natural Lump and Ridge) this week for a mere $70 or $0.30/lb! This should hold me for a while.

    Thanks again for all the great support everyone!

  12. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    The Lowe's here kept me to the strict 6 bag limit, so I might have to go back again and get the limit again.
    Because of the limit, I picked up a few other bags while I was there, including just one of the KBB twin packs and some cowboy lump they had on sale.
    Also got some Kingsford Competition, and some of the Embers (RO Home Depot style) from home Depot.
    The wife might not let me go there alone again.
  13. HalfSmoked

    HalfSmoked Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for the great post and the time you spent doing this test. That's what is so great about this forum everyone is always trying to help everyone else. I too have found kingsford not what it use to be last bag had a lot of trouble just trying to get it lite. I have not found any lump that I like they all seem to burn up so fast.

    [​IMG]for a great report.

  14. Great post. I never thought the difference would be that much. I would like to point out that you started with 20% more oak ridge by weight but even if the Wright's were equal it seems the oak ridge would out perform the kbb
  15. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I thought the same thing initially, but when I looked online ant several other tests of charcoal products I notice that pretty much everyone tests by volume, and finally it clicked... We usually do our cooks by volume and not weight. Most people use the same exact amount of briquettes on each cook, whether they hand pick out an exact number or just fill the chimney to the brim its all volume not weight, so a test by volume is actually more relevant than one by weight.

    Just the thought I had anyway.
  16. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You're welcome 801Driver.  When Kingsford changed their "Original" formula in 2015, they claimed same number of briquettes, same burn time and temps, but the briquettes were lighter.  It is NOT the same stuff. 

    The Royal Oak Ridge reminds me of the Kingsford from long ago, pre-2006.  The bricks are heavier, take a little longer to light, and hold their temps.  When ashed out, the ash is grittier than the current KBB, which is how the significantly older KBB (pre-2006) used to be.  I was a Kingsford user for decades.  I'm moving on to Royal Oak. 
  17. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Nice haul T! 

    My Lowes didn't have a limit.  When I went there on Tuesday to get my first 10 bags, the RO Ridge was no where in the BBQ aisle.  A VERY helpful sales associate named Oscar found two pallets on the storage racks 40 feet in the air.  He got a lift and loaded my 10 bags.  I actually sent Lowes a commendation e-mail for his effort.

    When I went back to get another 10 bags yesterday, the last day of the sale, the pallets up high had not moved and nothing was in the aisle. I asked another associate for assistance and he walked me several aisles over to another section of the store having nothing to do with BBQ.  There were 6 opened pallets with the wrong price, $5.99/bag, no limits.  Makes me wonder though how much they could have sold if the product had been positioned better with the right sales price.    
  18. I didn't realise they test by volume. Just thought we purchase by the lb and tend to break it down to price per lb.
  19. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks WW! 

    Actually, the difference in weight between the two is 25%, not 20% (24/19.2, or 4.8/19.2, or 1/.8, or .2/.8).  I was aware of the difference, and for transparency, pointed it out at the beginning of the test.  The briquettes are essentially the same size (pics below).  There is not a 25% difference in size. 

    I chose to work by volume instead of weight because that's how I fill my smoker and grill.   

    If you take as a reference point the pictures above where there was essentially nothing left in the chimney, which is 75 minutes for the KBB, 115 minutes for the RO Ridge, that's still a 53% improvement over the KBB, far outweighing the 25% difference in weight. 

    Weight aside, the temp performance alone was enough to sell me on RO Ridge. 

    Last edited: May 25, 2017
  20. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Warren, you are welcome.  Thanks for the points!  You hit the nail on the head with the characterization of SMF.  We want everyone to succeed.