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Old 01-23-2014, 08:16 PM   #31
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Went to Steve Raichlen's "Barbeque Bible" to look up the answer.
He says "charcoal is made by burning wood without allowing complete combustion", so I'd assume that the flavor would come from the wood used to make it.
But, read on. "Some briquettes are made from charred hardwood with natural plant starches as a binder. Other briquettes contain wood scraps, tree bark, sawdust, coal dust, borax, limestone, and/or sodium nitrate held together with a petroleum-based binder".
Raichlen prefers lump charcoal to briquettes. He notes that Duraflame briquettes are borax free and use vegetable starch as a binder.

I'm done quoting from this 555 page book.
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Old 01-23-2014, 08:19 PM   #32
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I use the finer cut wood chips in my tabletop charcoal Weber...I buy the brand made for the Indian Chief smoker. Seems to work OK, just sprinkle them on after a brief water bath. Slows down the cooking a tad, though. I've found you need to be ready to put the meat on pretty quick after the wood.

Have a propane tabletop Weber also, haven't found a way to use chips on that one.

For my large kettle Weber I've got a metal smoking box with a lid that gets filled with chips and put in with the briquets. I tend to use larger chips in that since there's no way to pull it out to refill the chips.
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Old 01-23-2014, 08:34 PM   #33
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Perhaps Baglo's point is that the smoke from charcoal is just plain carbon, with no interesting flavour-adding components, because (unlike raw wood) charcoal is wood that has already had everything volatile removed, leaving nothing but porous solid carbon (which is why it works as a filter) and inert mineral ash. That's my thinking, anyway.

I see that the Wikipedia page for charcoal says that briquettes may contain some raw sawdust, so that component wouldn't be charcoal at all, and would add a wood smoke flavour. I didn't know that before today.

Using wood chips for flavour does make sense to me, and I suppose a charcoal grill accommodates them easily. Still doesn't make me want to handle charcoal, but I do understand that others like this combination. In different (non-camping) circumstances, I note that some smoking (as in cooking with smoke) aficionados use smokers that electrically heat the wood chips to get the smoke.

The apple and cherry orchards of BC's Okanagan valley are being rapidly torn out to make way for vineyards, and much of the wood is just burned off as waste (as is the wood from routine pruning of active orchards). I wonder if anyone is chipping it up and selling it for food smoking? The Okanagan is sort of on the way home for Escape buyers headed east...

Edit note: after I started this and while I was distracted by other things, Baglo posted about the same stuff. I should hit "post" faster...
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Old 01-23-2014, 08:36 PM   #34
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"held together with a petroleum-based binder"
Must be what they use in the match light briquettes.

Tried a couple kinds of lump charcoal a few years back, too difficult to get it to burn evenly. Maybe if it was a more uniform size, unfortunately that's not the case. Don't think you could use it in an ecoque either.
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Old 01-23-2014, 08:39 PM   #35
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I made pulled pork a while back when the pork was on sale cheap.
It spent about 12 hours in the Q with frequent additions of wood chips.
I noted at the time that, by weight, the wood chips cost at least five times as much as the pork.
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Old 01-23-2014, 08:43 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
Tried a couple kinds of lump charcoal a few years back, too difficult to get it to burn evenly. Maybe if it was a more uniform size, unfortunately that's not the case. Don't think you could use it in an ecoque either.
The EcoQue manufacturer says in their spec sheet:
Quote:
No briquettes handy? Use any biomass fuel: sticks, twigs,
wood chunks, lump charcoal, alcohol or other wood
products.
They think it would work, but to me it does seem awkward in a small firebox. For their larger pizza oven and smoker, they say
Quote:
Any good hardwoods will work, but some burn hotter than others. You can also use good quality lump (NOT BRIQUETTES) charcoal and achieve good results.
Perhaps in that case - a closed oven - they know the food will pick up the taste from any non-carbon fuel, and they want to avoid the miscellaneous stuff in the briquettes?
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Old 01-23-2014, 08:49 PM   #37
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And, since you can never have too much information:

In 1920s, when Henry Ford learned of a process for turning wood scraps from the production of Model T's into charcoal briquets. He built a charcoal plant, and the rest is history.
The Kingsford Company was formed when E.G. Kingsford, a relative of Ford's, brokered the site selection for Ford's new charcoal manufacturing plant. The company, originally called Ford Charcoal, was renamed Kingsford® Charcoal in his honor.
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Old 01-23-2014, 09:04 PM   #38
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Gas vs. Charcoal is an age old debate. There are advantages to both. Some wouldn't be caught cooking on a gas grill. Some hate the mess and effort to cook on charcoal. I don't anyone can win this. I live amongst the self proclaimed gods of barbeque. I say travel with what works for you.
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Old 01-26-2014, 04:29 PM   #39
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I used to use a charcoal BBQ for all my cooking, back when I camped out of the trunk of my car. I was surprised to find out, during a fire ban, that charcoal was also a no-no! I ate a lot of sandwiches on that trip ;-)

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Old 01-26-2014, 04:40 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shrncnddck View Post
I used to use a charcoal BBQ for all my cooking, back when I camped out of the trunk of my car. I was surprised to find out, during a fire ban, that charcoal was also a no-no! I ate a lot of sandwiches on that trip ;-)

Sharon
Expect a lot of fire bans on the West Coast this summer unless things change drastically. Charcoal has often been banned in Washington when there is a fire ban in place.
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