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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

    RO Ridge and hot 'n fast whole chicken smoke. 

    Since switching to RO Ridge from KBB around Memorial Day, I've done 21 smokes using that charcoal.  Unfortunately, the longest smoke has only been about 7.5 hours, and most were low 'n slow (jerky, cured pork sirloin, roast beef, tri tip,  etc).  Today was the first time I loaded a couple of 6.1 lb chickens in the WSM for a hot n' fast smoke.  Man oh man, that RO Ridge is making my BBQ Guru obsolete!  It holds temps beautifully no matter what my target chamber temp.  As I type is cruising along at 340-345F.  The Guru is set for 320F for a minimum stoke.  The Guru hasn't come on once on this smoke. 

    With KBB on a hot 'n fast smoke, the Guru would have to work to keep the temps up.  I'd have to burp the smoker (remove the lid) occasionally to stoke the fire with air to get it back up to my target.  Oh, and it would take a full chimney of KBB on top of cold charcoal to get the temp up in the 325F range.  This morning, I only put 2/3rds chimney of the hot RO Ridge on the cold/used charcoal for this smoke.  Why didn't I switch sooner?!

    Have a GREAT Labor Day weekend!


    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
  2. Rings Я Us

    Rings Я Us Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    yes.. it was RO Lump $12.99 I forgot at HD that they don't sell it in Orange bags.. 🤓
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
  3. matty21386

    matty21386 Newbie

    24 oz is 25% more charcoal than 19.2 oz, that's a big difference. I didn't notice this at first, posted on another smoking site as I found this post intriguing. Another member caught that.
  4. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Correct.  I addressed the issue earlier in the thread.  I used volume instead of weight.  The Kingsford and RO Ridge briquettes are essentially identical in size.  Kingsford marketing claims right on the bag "Keeps the BBQ going longer."  They don't say longer than what, but this test clearly shows that the RO lasts significantly longer than the 25% difference in weight. 

    My one regret from the test is that I didn't weigh the ash.  Although practically identical in volume, 21 smoke experiences with RO Ridge and 38 Kettle grills with KBB since the test has clearly shown me the ash from the RO Ridge is heavier than the ash from Kingsford.  You can look at that fact as a two edged sword.  On one hand that weight is most likely due to the addition of <15% limestone to the RO Ridge briquette.  On the other hand, that limestone helps maintain the heat of the burned charcoal longer in the smoker, which was clearly evident from the test.    
  5. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've been using RO since the mid 90s,some Texans turned me on to it.I did a similar comparo to K back then and I got the same results with the K having a ton of sand/grit in the ash. It has been frustratingly hard in the past to find but now common.BTW they make a "Chefs Best" that are 1/3 bigger than regular.I have not tried them yet....

    Royal Oak aint no joke...

  6. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Since Memorial Day, I've used 6x15.4 bags of RO Ridge, or 92.4 lbs. I've had 28 smokes, the shortest being 2.7 hours, the longest 9.5 hours. Average smoke is 5.13 hrs. Total hours of smoking was 128.25, which means I'm averaging just a smidge under 1.4 hours of smoke time per pound of RO Ridge used. With KBB I was running .8 to .9 hrs per pound.

    One lesson learned: I have to use less than half the amount of RO Ridge to start my fire compared to KBB, or I quickly overshoot my target temp, especially if I'm targeting 225F. With KBB I always used the large chimney to start my fire. With RO Ridge, I only use the small chimney. Poultry is the only exception. I still use the large chimney, but only use about half to 2/3rds a chimney to hit a 340-350 target temp for smoking poultry. KBB took a full chimney and the Guru had to work to keep it there.

    Interesting point I've observed is how RO Ridge burns in my WSM on these shorter smokes. I dump a small amount of hot RO Ridge in the center of my pile of cold charcoal and wood chunks, no dimple or pit in the middle. When the smoke finishes, the top layer will look almost unburned and fresh, any wood will be charred, but the layers below will be partially used almost all the way to the sides. I suspect that has to do with the fact that RO Ridge takes longer to cool down, but that's just supposition at this point.

    Going to do an overnight smoke tonight using the RO Ridge. Running to the store today to pick up a bone-in pork butt. Will get the biggest one they have, which is usually around 10 lbs. They are enhanced butts, so I just rub and throw on the smoker. Will smoke it at 225F overnight, then crank the temp up in the morning to 275-300F, unwrapped. Expecting an 18-22 hour smoke. I'm curious if the usage will stay at 1.4 hrs/lb, or be greater or less. Interested in whether I have to load more charcoal, plus the burn pattern, and whether the Guru has to work or not to maintain the target temp.

    Stay tuned. Pics to follow.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
  7. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Ray,of course they're enhanced butts - you're in California! o_O
    Seriously,what is an "enhanced butt" ?
    Looking forward to hearing/seeing the outcome of the overnight smoke!

  8. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dang I miss the old emoticons.

    When you inject a butt or brisket, you are "enhancing" it. Sometimes the producer does that for you. The Hormel butts I buy are enhanced with up to a 12% solution. The attached picture is from a label earlier in the year.
  9. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I am lucky.Around here we have many heritage breeds:
    Hampshire,Berkshire,Tamworth etc.But they'll cost ya $$ Better to get together with my buddies and buy on the hoof when we can.I usually get Smithfield as it is what's in every store her in Va.....can't complain. :)
    I miss the old emoticons too.

  10. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    003.JPG 008.JPG 009.JPG 010.JPG It is now 7:50 AM, Saturday morning. At 4:54 PM last night I put 2/3rds of a small chimney of hot RO briquettes on my pile of used/new RO briquettes. The ring was loaded to what I call 3/4 full. Note to self: Next time I do this, start with all new briquettes and load the ring completely to what I consider "full" (about an inch over the top of the ring).

    An hour later, at 5:55 PM, I loaded the meat. Chamber temp was 235F with only one bottom vent cracked about 1/4". The temp dropped to 217F, then slowly climbed back up to 237F. I closed that cracked vent, and set my Guru to 225F. After a couple hours the chamber temp dropped to 225F and basically stayed there all night. I woke up 3 times and the chamber temp was 225F, 221F, and 226F.

    At 7:20 AM this morning, when I woke up for the final time, almost 13.5 hours after loading the meat, the chamber temp had dropped to 217F. Looked and saw a lot of ash. Stirred the ash and noticed a BIG difference right away from the KBB. With KBB the ash flies everywhere and follows the heat up into the chamber. With the Ridge, the ash just fell through the grate with very little flying up into the chamber.

    The chamber temp started climbing immediately, but I could tell I'd need to add more charcoal to finish the smoke. I added one small chimney of cold RO Ridge. I want to see how long a small chimney will last before the temp starts dropping. In less than 20 minutes my temp had climbed to 275, where I had set the Guru. It maxed out at 288F, and 50 minutes after loading has started slowly dropping back to 275F where the Guru will catch it.
  11. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I always de-ash from previous smoke and take the half dead soldiers out and put them on top of a fresh lit pile of coals. I also normally add cold briquettes when needed though I usually only do butts 5-6 Hrs (the aroma makes me impatient) and don't need to add any.One of my buds has an 18 WSM,he loads it with ~ 1/3 bag and lets'er rip.Gotta love the RO !

    I will be boarding my private jet shortly,should I bring a side? ;)
  12. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yep, slaw.

    I always "de-ash" too. I really wanted to get a feel for how the RO Ridge performed. Even though the used charcoal was Ridge, I should have started with all fresh just for this smoke. Next time.

    I turned off the Guru and opened the bottom vents at about 8:20 AM. That small chimney of cold RO Ridge, which equals 1/4th of a large chimney, held the temp until 10:20, then the chamber temp started falling. Butt IT was 195F, and still a little resistant to the probe. For comparison, half a large chimney of cold KBB would last about 90 minutes to 2 hours, so I got the same performance with half as much RO.

    I "de-ashed" the briquettes on the ring, kind of pushed then into the center of the ring with my tongs, then fired up about 2/3rds of a small chimney of RO Ridge, adding the hot briquettes to the pile. Just wanted to close out this smoke. I shut the vents and the temp shot up to 300F. When it started falling I opened one of the vents about 1/4".

    The meat will probably be done about 11 AM, or 17 hours.
  13. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Why do you cook'em so long?
    Or is this more a test of the RO ?
  14. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Both actually.

    Obviously I wanted to see how the RO would perform on a long smoke. I liked it, but still want to do a test of a full new load of RO Ridge to see how long it will go without refueling or knocking off ash. I didn't think about that until after I loaded the smoker for this smoke with used and new RO Ridge.

    Why so long? Convenience. The WSM is such a great "set and forget" smoker, I found that when I start a long smoke the evening before, I can sleep easy. When I get up in the morning, that's when the fun begins. I woke up at 7:20 AM. The butt was still in the stall. IT was 165F. I futzed with the smoker, doing what needed to be done to crank up the temp, and just took the butt off at 11:20 AM. In reality, it only feels like a 4 hour smoke, not 17.5 hours. Great bark, great flavor, and I'm not thinking about the smoke for 17.5 hours. There's such a secure feeling just putting it in the smoker and doing all kinds of other things, without thinking about the smoke all day.

    I've done 225F from beginning to end, 300+ from beginning to end, and prefer this low/slow start, hot/fast finish. There's no real difference in taste. The way I do it now just works for me.

    Below is the finished butt just before I took it off the smoker, and the remaining fuel. I could have easily gone two more hours.

    Overall, this used/new RO Ridge smoke wasn't a whole lot different than a KBB used/new briquette smoke. I loaded fuel at about the same time on the clock, but used less, both at the beginning and on each refuel. That works for me too. 011.JPG 015.JPG
    motocrash likes this.
  15. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Makes sense....with my luck i'd be sawing logs and a bear would knock it over and feast.
    I should have got one going this morning,been working outside :( Beautiful day- 65* here in the Blue Ridge.
    It looks wonderful ! Point!

  16. Phil Chart

    Phil Chart Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Thank for the very informative test. I use strictly kingsford but have noticed the quality is not there anymore as it was in the past. I thought about doing a test on kingsford vs royal oak but after reading this excellent article on the testing you've done has saved me some time. Thanks again for the awesome post
  17. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You're very welcome, Phil. I've been 100% happy with the RO Ridge. Just finished a 17.84 lb, semi-spatchcocked turkey, like 5 minutes ago, and it held 325F for the three hours and fifteen minutes of smoke roasting with nary a bump.

    001.JPG 002.JPG 003.JPG 004.JPG 006.JPG 007.JPG
  18. Phil Chart

    Phil Chart Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Yum my mouth is watering and I just ate supper
    Have a good thanks giving
  19. yankee2bbq

    yankee2bbq Smoking Fanatic

    Dang, that looks good! Share your recipe!