Kingsford Charwood Lump Charcoal
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Quick Stats
Date Of Review: January, 2006
Purchased From: Wal*Mart
Date Purchased: January, 2006
Price: $5.27
Weight: 10 pounds
Burn Time:
Ash Production:
Type of Wood: South American Hardwood
Strange Material?: None
Scrap Lumber Pieces?: None
Smell: Moderate smell
Country of Origin: Argentina


Quick Links
Other Information: Click Here
Unusual Or Unique Statements: Click Here
Statements From The Bag: Click Here
Lighting Instructions: Click Here
Photos of Contents: Click Here
Other Photos: Click Here
Photo of UPC Code: Click Here
Contact Information: Click Here

Rate And Comment On This Charcoal: Click Here


Commentary

In the closing days of December 2005, the barbecue world was rocked (well, ok, maybe it was sort of bumped) by the news that Kingsford, of all people, had gotten into the lump charcoal business. A post by "wrobs" on December 29, 2005 was the first indication of this new entrant into the lump charcoal industry. At first people thought he was nuts, or perhaps some company was ripping of the Kingsford name. Even phone calls to Kingsford resulted in denials that there was such a product. But soon photos of the product were posted proving the existence of Kingsford Charwood, at which point, Kingsford admitted that they had such a product but were holding off on announcing it until the BBQ season had started. Wierd, considering that the product was filling the shelves of Wal*Mart Supercenters all over the country. Did Kingsford think no one would notice?

So, samples were immediately obtained and here, then, is the review of this new product from Kingsford. Your first observation will probably be that 10 pound bags of this product are smaller than 10 pound bags of most lump charcoals. Click on the photo at right to see the full-sized photo of a bag of Kingsford Charwood side by side with a 10 pound bag of Royal Oak Lump Charcoal. As you can see, the Kingsford bag is considerably smaller.

Closer examination of the bag shows that the charcoal is made in Argentina and distributed in the United States by Kingsford. Although the bag doesn't specify the type of wood used to make this charcoal, it is evident that it is one of the many South American hardwood charcoals which are becoming more and more available in the United States.

Upon opening the bag we found no scrap lumber, no uncarbonized pieces of wood, and one small piece of plastic string. (Click on the photo at right.) The bag contained a reasonable mix of sizes, as you can see from the following table. There were no really huge pieces but there were some fairly sizeable pieces. The 10.4% chips and dust is low for lump charcoals resulting in a large portion of the bag being usable. And as you can see, the bag contained a generous 10.6 pounds of charcoal, 6% more than the label indicates.

Large 1.5 pounds 14.4%
Medium 3.5 pounds 33.2%
Small 4.5 pounds 42.0%
Chips/Dust 1.1 pounds 10.4%



Total 10.6 pounds
Now comes the interesting part where we actually get to burn some charcoal. Initial reports on some of the online forums indicated that the charcoal burned with a tremendous amount of sparking and crackling. If we might quote one such post:
"It was like 100 sparklers going off in my grill and it continued until the last piece burned out. Naturally I could not cook anything on that, but cleanup of horrible. It took me about 30 minutes just to get the grill inside, outside and everything surrounding clean up of ash that went everywhere. I thought I had a small volcano erupting in my backyard."
Those are pretty strong words, so let's see how it did. It took 3 sheets of newspaper to start in our chimney starter test which is fairly low compared to other charcoals. As the charcoal burned in the chimney starter there was indeed a lot of crackling with lots of small sparks flying up out of the fire, but there was no real popping, and thus no burning chips of charcoal being shot across the landscape. While doing our maximum temperature test, the charcoal again was sparking like crazy, sending up small sparks, but again it didn't really pop much and there were no large particles of burning charcoal ejected from the fire. The charcoal was able to achieve a maximum temperature of 965 degrees, which is very high compared to other charcoals. After we had observed the maximum temperature, we let the fire cool down to 450 degrees and let it burn steady at that temperature. Once you restrict the airflow and let the fire burn steadily at a moderate temperature, the sparking all but disappears.

When starting the charcoal with a MAPP torch, the sparking is no worse than most lump charcoals. The fire spreads with moderate speed. Also, when using a BBQ Guru 10 CFM fan to bring the cooker up to 400 degrees there was very little sparking.

Enough talk about sparking for the moment. We'll get back to this issue later. While burning, the charcoal has a somewhat unique smell, not really woodsy smoke like many American hardwood charcoals, and yet none of the slight perfume of some of the South American hardwoods. It is hard to describe other than simple a moderate and pleasant smoke. We cooked some pork chops using the sear and dwell method and the meat had a mild smokey flavor. Again, more on those pork chops later...

The ash volume produced was low compared to other charcoals. The burntime was only average, which is a surprise given the density of the charcoal.

So, now back to those pork chops and the sparking issue. We were walking Scooby the Wonder Dog and we mentioned to the wife that we were going to conduct one more test and cook some more pork chops over this charcoal. She responded by asking if these pork chops could be shiny. We just rolled our eyes, figured we had to ask, and then asked what she meant. "Well, those last pork chops were covered with charcoal." Well, what do you know? She independantly noticed what we had noticed. The pork chops, which had been in the cooker while the fire was under full airflow for the sear, had indeed been covered with little black gritty spots which you could actually feel when you chewed the meat. Gritty meat isn't all that pleasant. All those sparks flying off the fire were little pieces of burning charcoal and they left little bits of gritty ash everywhere they landed.

Which brings us to the second pork chop test. We, sparing no expense for our readers' benefit, went out and bought a Weber Smokey Joe in order to test how this lump burned in a more conventional open charcoal grill. At right you will see our brand spankin' new Smokey Joe. (We hope this doesn't jeopardize our candidacy for the ceramic cooker hall of fame?)

We loaded up a chimney starter full of lump and lit the lump. As you can see from the photo to the right, there was quite a large number of sparks that fly up out of the chimney starter. This is probably an accurate representation of what it looks like to the human eye as the lump is burning in the starter.

This next photo is proabably a bit unfair as it greatly exaggerates the volume of sparks, but it is a rather neat photo. Taken without flash, the shutter stayed open a longer time than in the flash photo above, and thus there are more sparks in the exposure and the spark trails are much longer than in the flash photo.

However, this is the more important photo of the three because, as you can see, there were almost no sparks once the lump was dumped into the cooker and allowed to settle down a bit. As we cooked our second batch of pork chops in the Smokey Joe, there was very little sparking and the meat turned out a lot better without all the gritty ash covering the meat.

So, to summarize our feelings about this sparking issue, the charcoal does spark excessively when it is burning with a strong airflow driving it, such as in a chimney starter or in a cooker like a ceramic cooker where you can close the cooker up and open vents at the top and bottom. Is it dangerous? Probably not since the sparks are tiny and almost all of the sparks burn out before hitting the ground. Is it annoying? You bet. It is a bit daunting to pick up a chimney starter full of flying sparks. And anywhere the sparks land will be covered with tiny specks of charcoal and ash. And as for cooking, if this sparking is going on in your cooker, your food will be covered with gritty ash. So, grilling in an open grill, low and slow smoking in a closed smoker, and moderate temperature roasting in a closed cooker are going to do fine. However, if you build a roaring fire for searing steaks, you'd probably want to skip this charcoal.

So overall, this charcoal does pretty well with average burntime, low ash, low cost, very high maximum temperature and relatively low percentage of chips and dust. However, it is impossible to overlook the sparking issue with the mess it can make and the effect it has on the food when searing. And after all, food is what this is all about. So we give this charcoal an average rating, just barely escaping a "below average."

To the left is the rating that our readers have given this charcoal. If you have used this charcoal and would like to rate it and leave your comments, Click Here

To view reader ratings of all brands, Click Here.


Other Information

None.


Unusual or Unique Statements

None.


Statements From The Bag

"Burns Hot", "Sears in Flavor", "Easy to Light", "100% Natural Lump Hardwood Charcoal", "100% Natural Charwood"

"Fire up a gourmet grilling experience with Kingsford™ Authentic Charwood. Nothing delivers smoky, hearty flavor like 100% all-natural hardwood, kiln-fired and packed in its natural lump shape. Kingsford™ Charwood is easy to light and burns hot to lock in flavor. Sear your steak, burgers or pork to perfection."

"Cooking Tips

Kingsford™ Charwood burns hot. Make adjustments to the grill vents and lid to control the temperature. Create different temperature zones on the grill by keeping the charwood in one area and a cool zone in another."
"For Your Safety:
  • Never use gasoline to light Kingsford™ Charwood.
  • Do not add lighter fluid directly to the burning or hot charwood.
  • Make sure ashes are cold before discarding.
  • Never barbecue indoors (see warning above).
  • Grill should be placed on a flat and level surface away from flammable items, overhands and trees.
  • Store in a cool, dry place."

  • Lighting Instructions

    "Directions
    1. Stack Kingsford™ Charwood in a pyramid. Add lighter fluid following lighter fluid directions.

    2. Light Kingsford™ Charwood. LEAVE GRILL UNCOVERED. Flames will die down somewhat as charwood continues to burn.

    3. After Kingsford™ Charwood Is Lightly Covred In Ash and flames have died down (approximately 10-15 minutes), spread the charwood over grill and begin cooking.

    Alternate Lighting Method Using a Charcoal Chimney
    1 Crumple two full-size sheets of newsprint so that the length of the paper stays the same. Then curl the paper like a doughnut, leaving a hole in the center.

    2 Put the paper in the bottom of the starter and fill the top with charwood.

    3 Light the paper.

    4 After charwood is lightly covered in ash and flames have died down, spread the charwood over grill and begin cooking."


    Photos Of Contents

    This is the contents of the bag. Those are 1 inch squares on the measuring bar.


    Here is a closer view.


    Here are the larger pieces we found in the bag.


    Here is a piece with a shiny black substance on it.


    Here is the piece of plastic string that we found in the bag.


    Here are the contents of the bag sorted into large, medium, small, and too small/chips/dust.


    Other Photos

    This is how the bags arrived.


    Here is a 10-pound bag of Kingsford lump side by side with a 10-pound bag
    of Royal Oak lump. As you can see the Kingsford lump is denser.


    Photo of UPC Code

    Here is a photo of the UPC code on the bag:


    Contact Information

    Distributed by Kingsford Manufacturing Company
    Oakland, CA 94612
    1-800-232-4745

    www.kingsford.com


    About This Review

    If you are unfamiliar with our testing procedures, you may wish to read How We Review Lump Charcoal before reading this review. Also, you can read How We Score Lump Charcoal to learn about our scoring system.

    Prices listed in our reviews are current as of the date of the review. We do not attempt to keep these prices current.

    The conclusions and final rating given any charcoal are based upon the opinion of the author. We recommend that you use our rating only as a guide. You should read the entire review and decide what is important to you in making any buying decision.

    Performance ratings are designated with stars, 1 star being the worst and 5 stars being the best:

    = Performance is Far Below Average
    = Performance is Below Average
    = Performance is Average
    = Performance is Above Average
    = Performance is Far Above Average

    Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon at the bottom right corner. Click on the icon to display the image in a new larger window. If you wish to ensure that you are seeing photographs the same way that we are seeing them, we recommend that you calibrate your monitor to a PC-normal gamma of 2.2. You should be able to see the difference between blocks A, B and C below, as well as the difference between blocks 3, 4 and 5.

      

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