Lump vs Briq's in long smokes

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
SMF Premier Member
Finally starting to get things figured out in the charcoal arena.  I have a new Weber 22.5 OTG and got the grilling and indirect smoking worked out. 

 Do have a question though:  In a vertical smoker like a WSM, would you necessarily use lump in smokes lasting much longer than 5 hours?  I'd think briq's would work better in some minion or other long burning start up.

Personally, I don't like briquettes, regardless. There is way too much ash left behind. I've tried the typical crappy Kingsford and Royal Oak and other stuff with no additives but wheat starch for binding.

IMO they all suck.

I do 20+ hr smokes with one load of natural lump in my UDS with no problems.

Why someone would want to use a product that is made up of ground up charcoal. coal dust, ground limestone, and other additives is beyond me.
Well I have used both and because the blue bag is cheaper than lump that's what I use. I find no difference in taste or in the length of time I get out of 1 full charcoal ring. The WSM has a large area under the grate for ash. If you dump it out after each smoke there is plenty of room there for a full load of ash. I have gone 20 hours on 1 load of Kingsford blue without losing temp. or having too much ash buildup. The only lump around here is RO, and I do use it for grilling steaks because it burns hotter and really sears the steak well. I smoke a lot & I would rather save a little on charcoal and spend it on a better cut of meat. That's just my 2 cents.
I am with AL on this one
In my neck of the woods there is minimal price difference between the various brands and types of charcoal. That's probably why I dislike briquettes so much. If the price difference was more substantial I would be more forgiving of the briquettes. Around here Kingsford briquettes or lump. Royal Oak Briquettes or lump, Maple Leaf lump & Basques pure sugar maple lump are all between 14-15 bucks for 20 lb of fuel.
With the WSM's one of the big factors is how well you can pack the lump into the ring, if it isn't packed tightly you get a lot of airflow in the stack that can run you out of fuel faster - remember the WSM's don't seal 100% so there comes a point where even with dampers closed you can't reduce the airflow.

Briquets stack very even and burn very even, but produce a lot more ash - but like Al said the 22.5" WSM can handle a lot of ash without any problem.

Personally I use lump for any smoke under 10 hrs. or so, then if I plan an all nighter with butts or brisket then I use briquets. When using briquets when you get past the 12 hr. mark make sure you go out and gently stir them every 2 hrs or so to knock the ash off the outside. This will allow you to go 20+ hrs. at a steady 200-220° in a WSM.
There's a huge difference here AK. I get 46 lbs. (2-23 lb bags) of Kingsford blue bag for $17. RO lump is $8 for a 10 lb. bag. That's the biggest bag anyone around here carries. If they had big bags of lump, maybe the price would come down.
Only reason I use lump in my smoker, is because I can close down the vents completely, and save lump. Whereas briquettes once lit, break apart and are unusable. While I pay nearly twice as much for lump, the stuff I use, literally last forever, and I'm able to save lump.

The long lasting ability, and ability to save burned lump equals the playing field in my smoker. Plus lump is all natural.
I have also ran into this same dilemma.  Briq's or lump?  Only problem is lump is really only sold at Lowes or Home Depot.  The grocery stores carry Best of the West lump, but it's a very small bag of maybe 6-8lbs for about $5 - $6.  I have a Char-Broil AGD offset smoker.  I recently found Stubb's All Natural briquettes at for $4.25 for a 15lb bag.  I bought five bags for about $23 after taxes.  They seem to work ok, however, produce a lot of ash and smoke even more.  I have already gone through 2 bags of it in only two smokes (one six hr rib smoke, and one 5 hr chicken smoke)
I have used both and prefer lump nut will use briquttes when i have to.  I like frontier lump but have been hard pressed to find it this spring.  I may have to go to Royal Oak Lump from Wally word.
  I like frontier lump but have been hard pressed to find it this spring.  I may have to go to Royal Oak Lump from Wally word.
I really like the Frontier also. If you have a Sam's Club in your area, they usually carry it, at least ours does. They carry it in the forty pound bags for about $15.
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