Cowboy Quick Fire Single Use Lump Charcoal

Quick Stats
Date Of Review: June, 2010
Purchased From: Lowe's
Date Purchased: May, 2010
Price: $3.44
Weight: 2.0 pounds
Type of Wood: Unknown blend of hardwoods
Strange Material?: None
Scrap Lumber Pieces?: None
Smell: See review
Country of Origin: Unknown

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


This is another one of our "reports" on a charcoal product, as opposed to the normal reviews that we perform for lump charcoal. While this product does consist of lump charcoal, the fact that it is "instant Light" and is intended for single use in a grill, not a smoker, puts it into a special category that doesn't warrant a full review. Also it wouldn't be a fair comparison between this product and ordinary lump charcoals.

This product is composed of lump charcoal that has been impregnated with paraffin. You light the bag and burn the entire bag for one cooking session.

Just for comparison, we burned a bag of Kingsford "BBQ Bag" which is 2.5 pounds of briquettes impregnated with lighter fluid, in order to have something for a reference point when we evaluated the Cowboy Quick Fire charcoal.

The first thing we noticed was that the Kingsford bag when opened absolutely reeks of lighter fluid while the Cowboy Quick Fire bag had no smell at all. When lighting the Kingsford, you can smell the lighter fluid burning until the last flames die out. When lighting the Cowboy bag, you can initially smell a mild smell of wax which dissipates when the flames die out. The Kingsford charcoal burns with a roaring flame while the Cowboy charcoal burns with a safer, smaller flame about half the size of the Kingsford flame.

Both products seem to be overly optimistic on their claims for how soon you can be cooking. Kingsford says "ready in about 10 minutes." The Cowboy charcoal says "allow 8-12 minutes for the fire to become ready." Our definition of "ready" was that all the flames had gone out. Well, Kingsford was "ready" in 28 minutes, while the Cowboy charcoal was "ready" in 17.5 minutes. One other thing about starting these "single use in a bag" charcoals: If you use them in a grill like a Weber Smokey Joe that has a charcoal grate which keeps the bag off the bottom of the cooker, the bag will completely burn. However, if you use it in a cheap flat bottom grill which has no charcoal grate, you might want to stir the charcoal around a bit to make sure all the charcoal gets exposed to air. This allows all the wax to burn off. If you don't, some of the pieces on the bottom of the grill won't get a chance to burn off the wax, and you will smell the wax burning later in the cook.

Lighting Cowboy Quick Fire Single Use Charcoal
The bag sitting in a Smokey Joe cooker, waiting to be lit.
Lighting Cowboy Quick Fire Single Use Charcoal
The bag has just been lit.
Lighting Cowboy Quick Fire Single Use Charcoal
The bag after 5 minutes.

Lighting Cowboy Quick Fire Single Use Charcoal
The bag after 10 minutes.
Lighting Cowboy Quick Fire Single Use Charcoal
The bag after 15 minutes.
Lighting Cowboy Quick Fire Single Use Charcoal
The bag after 17 minutes. The flames are out and you can now spread the charcoal.

So, once started, how hot do these charcoals burn? As in previous reviews, our method was the "hold your hands over the fire until you scream" method. The units of measurement are seconds. Initially, we could hold our hands over the Kingsford for 3 seconds. The Cowboy charcoal was much hotter at 1 second. After about 20 minutes of burning (measured starting when the flames had died out), the Cowboy heat lowered slightly and we were able to hold our hands at the grate for 2 seconds.

How did the heat last? Well, the Kingsford charcoal produces gargantuan volumes of ash which then serves to insulate the fire and lower the heat. As a result, the Kingsford charcoal required constant attention (stirring to knock the ash of the briquettes) throughout the entire cook in order to maintain grilling temperatures. We noticed the first temperature drop after 23 minutes, and then had to stir things up about every 20 minutes. We were able to keep a useful temperature for about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

The Cowboy charcoal didn't require stirring. We were able to keep the temperature up at grilling temperatures for just over 1 hours. Not as good as the Kingsford, but we'll come back to this in just a bit.

So, in summary:

  • They both cost about the same per use.
  • Cowboy has no odor. Kingsford stinks to high heaven.
  • Cowboy burns much hotter than Kingsford.
  • Cowboy burns a shorter period of time than Kingsford, but with no need to tend the fire.
  • Cowboy is pure charcoal with a wax lighter. Kingsford has a petroleum lighter and contains all the ingredients listed here.
So, we were prepared to say that if you need a "single use" charcoal product, Cowboy Quick Fire Single Use Lump Charcoal is a great option. It's lump, it burns hot and long, it's environmentally friendly and goes for a competitive price. What was stopping us? Well, we weighed the contents of the bags we purchased. Remember, the bag says it contains 2 pounds of charcoal. Here's what we found: Of the four bags we purchased, only one contained over 2 pounds of charcoal. Three bags contained approximately 1 pound 6¾ ounces, 1 pound 6-3/8 ounces, and 1 pound 8½ ounces. The one bag over 2 pounds contained 2 pounds 5 ounces. We wonder how long a full bag of charcoal might burn. No doubt it would bring the burn time a lot closer to the Kingsford time.

So we contacted Cowboy about the problem. It took some time, but we were contacted by the president of the company who just bent over backwards to do anything he could to make the problem right. They checked their process and pulled some samples to check the weight. Hopefully this is a one-time problem. We do feel that this is a great product for picnics and quick grilling where you don't want to mess with a big bag of charcoal.

Other Information


Unusual or Unique Statements


Statements From The Bag

"Single Use", "Just Light the Bag", "100% Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal with a Paraffin Coating", "New", "Experience the 'Quick Fire' Difference", "Our Cowboy Hardwood 'Quick Fire' Charcoal Bag provides a natural, self lighting, safe and efficient grilling experience. You don't even open the bag!"

Lighting Instructions

"1. Remove the top grate and make sure your grill is clean.
2. Place the unopened bag on the bottom grate toward one side of the grill. This will provide better control when cooking.
3. Light all four corners of the bag and allow 8-12 minutes for the fire to become ready.
4. Once the charcoal maintains an orange glow, arrange the coals as desired and begin cooking.

Note: Do not add lighter fluid. Always cook in a safe, well-ventilated area."

Photos Of Contents

Here are the contents of the bag spread out. Those are 1-inch squares
on the measuring bar.

Here is a closer view.

Photo of UPC Code

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

Contact Information

Cowboy Charcoal, LLC


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

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