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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 02-04-2013, 08:30 AM   #1
BigTone
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Default Charcoal Question

I have never cooked with charcoal before and as I look at all the different types I really just wanted to get some advice because I'm big into natural/no chemicals. I see theres kingsford blue, hickory,matchlight, competition, "Stubs" brand?, etc... Im going to be cooking the usual, brisket, shoulder/butt, ribs, chickens, turkey, fatties in a UDS, what do you all recommend? Thanks for the advice, ~Anthony
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Unread 02-04-2013, 08:38 AM   #2
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Forget about Matchlight. It is pre-soaked in lighter fluid.

Basically, a typical briquette like Kingsford Blue Bag uses fillers in the briquettes and will produce more ash. Hardwood briquettes like Kingsford Competition, Stubb's and others are 100% hardwood, no fillers and will leave less ash.

The other choice is lump charcoal which is all wood and is not formed into briquettes. Lump typically burns hotter and leaves even less ash.

Of course, this varies by brand. Some are better than others.

I've seen folks here mention using all of the above in a UDS . I prefer hardwood briquettes for longer cooks. They seem to last longer for me.

The Naked Whiz site (not what it sounds like ) has a lot of info on charcoal. Most of it is geared toward lump since that is what folks use in ceramic cookers like the Big Green Egg.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 08:47 AM   #3
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If you've never cooked with charcoal, you've probably never cooked on a UDS (unless you have a gas or electric one). Your best bet is to get advice from one of the many UDS experts here. Charcoal selection would be one of the things they can help you with. If you want to go natural, use Stubbs, Wicked Good, or some other brand of all natural briquettes, or use lump. I prefer Stubbs but mostly use Kingsford Blue because it's dirt cheap at HD every Memorial Day and Labor Day. Don't worry about the fillers in K; lots of pros use it. Matchlight is OK for burgers (if you absolutely have to), but never use it in a smoker.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 08:55 AM   #4
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Ron_L has covered the charcoal part pretty well. I'll add a question/suggestion. In the Weber world the charcoal chimney is SOP for lighting charcoal. Do folks with UDS smokers find this useful as well?

And along with the comment for no matchlight charcoal, I personally avoid the use of lighter fluid. A little paper in the chimney (or the propane burner provided for this purpose in a Weber Performer) is all that is needed. Some folks use the propane weed burners which have a tip about 3" across. I've used one of those and it will light the surface of a pile of charcoal in a few seconds. (But you need a refillable propane tank to fuel it.)
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Unread 02-04-2013, 09:00 AM   #5
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I started out using standard Kingsford in my UDS & for a year and a half did nothing but constantly adjust my intakes for every cook. A friend suggested Humphrey Charcoal briquets & I've never looked back. It's got a very consistent burn. Almost set it & forget it.
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http://www.humphrey-charcoal.com/
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Unread 02-04-2013, 09:31 AM   #6
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If you want no additives stay away from anything with the word Briquette on the packaging even the "Natural Briquettes" have binders added or they wouldn't be Briquettes . You want to use a Lump or a Natural Lump hard wood charcoal it is made from carbonizing wood.It burns hotter, longer and leaves less ash than typical briquette charcoal.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 09:36 AM   #7
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One suggestion that I would make is: keep in mind what type of charcoal or lump you can get consistently and easily in your area. I have tried and liked certain charcoals in the past only to not be able to find the brands on a consistent basis or in the quantity I need.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 09:40 AM   #8
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Definitely lots of opinions on this topic and all good information. I say don't completely narrow it down to one choice. Just go out and get a few different kinds and see what you like. Some people say they hate the taste Kingsford Blue leaves, others swear by lump only, some use a combination of the 2, etc. Only way to know for you is to experiment. And that is half the fun .
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Unread 02-04-2013, 11:20 AM   #9
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if your part of the country is like the midwest, you are kind of limited to whats available unless you want to pay freight from Q specialty shops. Kingsford is available pretty much everywhere, and although there are better products out there according to some, its consistancy and price make it hard to pass up.

i use kingsford blue in my UDS and often in my Weber, but quite often i will burn royal oak lump for a hotter cook on my steaks and burgers.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 06:32 PM   #10
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I mix Stubbs charcoal (it does have a vegetable binder, at least it isnt a chemical), mixed with Royal Oak lump and whatever wood chunks i choose to cook with.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 06:46 PM   #11
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I have really taking a liking to Wicked Good Weekend Warrior lump.

If you have a Ace hardware in your area, you can order it online and have it shipped to the store and not have to pay shipping

just another option for you to consider.

I am going to try Kroger lump, I understand its made by Royal Oak and people have had good luck with it and its cheap.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 07:40 PM   #12
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I too love wicked good lump charcoal in my big green egg. Here's a web site that has tested every charcoal known to man! Hope this helps.


http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lump.htm
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Unread 02-04-2013, 07:52 PM   #13
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For the most part, prices dictate my choice of fuel that I use. I can get 40 lb bags of lump for $10 any time and I would also stock up on the twice yearly K-Blue sale. And also on those rare occasions, I would stock up on the two-for-one Stubbs deal from Lowe's, whenever that happens.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 08:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bludawg View Post
If you want no additives stay away from anything with the word Briquette on the packaging even the "Natural Briquettes" have binders added or they wouldn't be Briquettes . You want to use a Lump or a Natural Lump hard wood charcoal it is made from carbonizing wood.It burns hotter, longer and leaves less ash than typical briquette charcoal.
This. Use lump and never look back. Briquettes "seem" cheap but you use twice as much, leave a ton of ash clean up, and have a flavor that many people can taste due to the fillers and/or binders. People who give lump an honest go seldom ever use briquettes again.
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Unread 02-04-2013, 08:40 PM   #15
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A lot depends on what you are cooking on and what temp you are cooking at. Keep in mind there are a lot of good products out there and a number that are not so good. If you are trying to cook at a lower temp I find that lump not only burns hotter it has a seems to pop and sparks will jump to other parts of the coal causing the fire to get too hot. For the money Royal Oak is hard to beat, price is good and available almost everywhere all the time you are getting low ash compared to some. There is a site that will give you a ton of details about them all. I deleted it after I settled on Royal Oak.
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