Lump Charcoal v. Briquettes - One Man's Opinion

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mr mac

Master of the Pit
Original poster
SMF Premier Member
Oct 19, 2009
Doniphan MO
Lots of opinions out there, to be sure, and, I know this will likely strike a nerve with some folks here. That said, I've tried every one of these (and a few more I'll mention later) and, like most, I have an overall favorite, and a favorite I can get at any time. So, this is just my opinion which is based on my experiences over the last 15 years, as well as the sage advice of so many here at SMF.

Before I stir the pot, let me, to a small extent, anyway, qualify my statements.

Many moons ago, I used Kingsford charcoal because it was what my daddy used. For a very long time I used that until one day I read the ingredients. I was somewhat surprised at it including borax (ingredient in pesticides, soldering flux, pottery glazes), starch, pine, cedar and oak, etc. No more briquettes for me.

At that point, with the help of so many people on SMF, I moved on to lump charcoal. I started with Cowboy brand and when I found a few pieces of plywood in the bag...well.

In 2015 I made a trip to Royal Oak's Salem, OR plant to provide them with a fiber optic connection to the GA headquarters. While there, I asked for a tour of the plant and voiced my concerns over wierd things going in to the lump charcoal. After two hours of walking through and discussing the entire process with many of the employees, I was satisfied with their products.

Since then, based on recommendations from you, I've tried B&B, FOGO and KJ Big Block and have never had an issue with any of them. Then, in 2021 I went to the Eggfest in Tampa and met with the Jealous Devil representative. I bought two bags from them and it took a full year before I burned through both bags.

For those who are curious about that statement, if you can manage your fire right, you'll get a few cooks from a load of lump charcoal. Mind you, what I'm referring to is six hour rib cooks, three hour chicken cooks and maybe add a smaller brisket once a month, or a small Boston Butt for just me and The Better 9/10ths.

For the record, I only used a chimney starter and a piece of paper with a touch of olive oil on it to light my charcoal.

With my Kamado Joe Classic and a Kick Ash basket, after a cook, I close the vents and the fire burns out quickly. I then simply shake out the burned ash and am still left with lots of usable charcoal. You can do this with charcoal briquettes as well, but why would you?

Mind you, if you'rehappywithwhat you'reworkingwithandit worksfor you, then, by all means, keep doing that! Wishing you TBS from Missouri!

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Alot of good information. You did your research for sure.

I just started using lump charcoal. There is a clearance sale on Kamado Joe big lump at Lowe’s. I used it my WSM one time. I agree with normanaj normanaj , I get better fire management with briquettes. I like the lump for vortex wings, steaks, hamburgers…etc.
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Great info. Personally, I like B&B Briquettes for my PBC and use a variety of lump for my Offset. Locally it is easiest to find B&B Lump as I can get it 3 miles down the road. I gave up on Kingsford years ago and have no regrets.
JMHO and what works for me.

- Jason
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Hands down the best I've found and I've also used most everything.
Plus, Costco has two jumbo bags taped together for under $20 during grilling season.


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I use KBB briquettes and JD lump. For me, both work good and both have their place.
I gave up briquettes 20 yrs ago. Now I don't like the taste anymore. Doesn't seem healthy to me. But, what do I know. I'm nursing a scotch.
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I know this is a somewhat old thread, but it's not that old...

Anyways, for smoking low and slow, seems like lump can be a problem at least for me. There are a bunch of briquettes out there that advertise all natural. Kingsford having borax. But there are a bunch that don't use borax and only (claim to) use veggie starch or something similar. Has anyone looked into the best "non-toxic" briquettes?

I heard the recommendation for Frontier. Just curious if anyone has any info here. I'd prefer not to be shooting any chemicals I don't have to through my smoker.

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