When it comes to grilling, if you’re not using gas, you’re probably using Kingsford.
I prefer natural lump, but I’ve used about 8 big bags of Kingsford over the past 3 months in both my Weber Smokey Mountain smoker (WSM) and my Weber Performer grill.
Kingsford changed their formula last year to make it easier to use. They added Sure Fire Grooves to speed up lighting and it works to the tune of about 20% faster.
However, Kingsford claims the new stuff burns slightly hotter, burns longer and weighs less. Research shows this isn’t necessarily true.
The new Kingsford burns much hotter than the old K. Under testing conditions the old briquettes reached 765* while the new batch reached 900*. That’s a huge difference that not all cooks will be able to control.
New K does not burn longer than the old K and they both weigh about the same.
Some people are concerned with K’s petroleum based binders. Don’t be. They aren’t there. The binder is starch. The same kind of starch found in corn and wheat.
The chemical that causes concern is Borax. Borax is a natural occurring mineral consisting of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. Sodium is found in salt. Oxygen and water we need to live, but what is this boron thing? Boron is used for plant growth.
You can find borax in detergents, cosmetics, and oddly enough it is used as a fire retardant.
Kingsford is convenient to find, and it burns consistant from the top of the bag to the bottom.
Something I don’t like at all about K is the ash. K produces mounds of ash that must occasionally be dealt with even while you’re cooking. I’ve had ash from K build up in my WSM to the charcoal grate during one 15 hour cook causing airflow problems which then caused temperature control problems.
The second problem with K is the nasty smell when it’s lit, especially if you use lighter fluid. To combat this, use a chimney starter with no lighter fluid. Let the coals completely ash over before dumping them out to cook over.
As a side note, I found out the back of the old Kingsford bags were mostly dedicated tot he art of low and slow BBQ cooking, but the new bags talk about grilling. That seems appropriate given the new K’s properties.
With K you get convenience and consistency, but there are a few things to not like. I’ll use it if I have to, but I prefer all natural lump charcoal.
You can get more info on charcoal at Naked Whiz.
EDIT January 23: If you’re looking for a link to the new Kingsford Competition Briquets, clike here: LINK TO PRESS RELEASE