Frontier Lump Charcoal       Home       Lump Review Index      

Quick Stats
Date Of Review: May, 2007
Purchased From: Donated by The Grilling Station, a distributor
Date Purchased: May, 2007
Price: $6.99
Weight: 10 pounds
Burn Time:
Ash Production:
Type of Wood: See review
Strange Material?: None
Scrap Lumber Pieces?: None
Smell: Mild, pleasant smell of South American woods
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


We have been aware for some time now that there are re-branded versions of PackServ's Picnic brand of charcoal, so naturally we were excited to receive samples for review. Just over three years have passed since our review of Picnic charcoal was posted and a lot of charcoal has passed under the bridge since then. We are now on our 57th review and we have a bit more experience and quite a few more brands to compare with any new charcoal we review. So let's see how Frontier charcoal stacks up.

While we don't have specific information about Frontier charcoal, we are told it is the exact same charcoal as Picnic brand. Assuming this to be true, Fontier charcoal is a blend of South American hardwoods, primarily Quebracho Rojo, Quebracho Blanco and Guayacan. Here is a link to some information about at least one species of Guayacan, also known as Soap Bush. Here is a link to some information about Quebracho also known as ax wood. We don't know which is which looking at the pieces of charcoal, but some pieces were very dense while others were less dense. If you look below at the photographs, you will find a photo of one of the denser pieces of charcoal. We compared this piece with a typical piece of Ozark Oak of approximately the same size. The Frontier piece was 70 grams in wieght, the Ozark Oak was only 30 grams.

As for size distribution of the pieces in the bag, this turned out to be quite disappointing. With no truly "large" pieces of charcoal in the bag, and less than 20% of the charcoal even qualifying to be called "medium," this charcoal would present problems for users of smokers and ceramic cookers where airflow is at a premium for keeping a low fire going and for achieving high temperatures for searing. (See the results of our "Pork Chop Test" below.) On the other hand, the amount of chips and dust is remarkably low, the lowest we have seen since we started actually weighing the charcoal for our reviews. So, we have to say the distribution of sizes was a big disappointment, especially if you compare these results with those of Picnic charcoal. Picnic charcoal had no small pieces, believe it or not. Only large and medium.

Large 0.0 pounds 0.0%
Medium 1.9 pounds 18.3%
Small 8.1 pounds 78.4%
Chips/Dust 0.3 pounds 3.3%

Total 10.3 pounds

Lighting this charcoal was a quite a bit harder than normal, requiring 5.5 sheets of newspaper in our chimney starter test. This is to be expected with denser woods, but this was towards the top of the range we have experienced with all brands of charcoal. While igniting in the chimney starter, the charcoal burned with moderate sparking/crackling and no significant popping. The smell produced by the charcoal is the typical mild pleasant South American hardwood smell that we have seen over the years.

In our burntime test, Frontier burned an average length of time, right in the middle of the range of times we have measured in our testing. It really stood out, however, in our maximum temperature test, achieving 1040 degrees, the highest temperature we have ever seen. During this test, where we allow the charcoal to burn with the air vents on our cooker wide open, there was lots of sparking and a fair amount of popping going on until the fire had burned for 10 minutes or so. At that point, all the sparking and popping died out. When lighting the charcoal with a MAPP torch, however, there was significant popping and we would not recommend using a MAPP torch to light this charcoal. As it is a blend, one or more of the species of wood is incredibly pop-prone and when you put the torch on one of those pieces, you'd better stop if you know what's good for you.

Ash production for this charcoal was also average, again right in the middle of the range we have observed.

As a result of comments made on an Internet forum regarding the amount of sparking and popping when trying to do a hot cook, we decided to revive our famous "Pork Chop Test." (Readers may remember when we cooked some pork chops using Kingsford Charwood which leaves a gritty residue on the food when used for searing.) Unfortunately, we were unable to confirm any problems with sparks leaving a residue on the food since we could not get the fire above 650 degrees. This was because at this point in the review, we only had smallish pieces of charcoal left for testing and we couldn't get the airflow we needed for a good hot sear. For the record, however, it was probably one of the best damn pork chops we've cooked in a while.

So in conclusion, we have to say we were quiet dissappointed with the size distribution. This along with only average burn time and ash production, concerns about sparks and popping while also very difficult to light means we can only give this charcoal our Average rating.

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


Unusual or Unique Statements


Statements From The Bag

"100% Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal", "Finest Cooking Hardwoods for Superior Flavor", "Authentic BBQ Flavor", "Burns Hotter, Longer",

"What is Frontier 100% Natural Lump Charcoal?

As trailblzaers explored the new frontier, meals were cooked over an open fire. Hardwoods became the original charcoal source for families on the frontier. Generations later, cooks everywhere continue this tradition of using natural hardwood charcoal.

Frontier 100% Natural Lump Charcoal is simply charred wood. The best cooking hardwoods are selected and then charred using traditional kilns to produce high-quality lump charcoal. The result is a longer burning and hotter cooking lump charcoal, making Frontier the preferred choice of the barbecue griller."

"The Benefits of Cooking with 100% Natural Lump Charcoal

  • Made from preemium hardwoods, Frontier 100% Natural Lump Charcoal provides a longer, more consistent fire and burns hotter than most lump charcoals.
  • The extended cooking time of Frontier Lump Charcoal yields more grilling time per pound than other lump charcoals and eliminates the need to add more coals.
  • A great alternative to charcoal briquets, Frontier Lump Charcoal burns hotter and longer for a superior grilling experience. Excellent for searing, lump charcoal can also be used to slow cook meats to perfection.
  • Cooknig with lump charcoal adds an authentic grilled flavor, enhancing the natural taste of meats, fish and poultry.
  • There are no additives or chemicals to alter the taste of your food.
  • Easy and quick to light - ready-to-cook time is about 15 minutes. Burns clean - less ash for less clean up!"

    "Safety Instructions

    The natural composition of lump charcoal may cause sparking or crackling during the lighting process. The amount of airflow and grilling method may affect the incidence of sparking or crackling. Follow all instructions and safety precautions associated with your grilling products.

  • For best results, store in a dry area or container.
  • Place grill on flat, level surface away from flammable items, overhangs and trees. Never barbecue indoors.
  • Ashes must be completely cooled before discarding.

  • Lighting Instructions

    Keep It Natural - The Preferred Method
    Use newspaper or a chimney starter.
    1. Open air vents on grill. Place twisted newspaper on bottom of grill.
    2. Stack Frontier 100% Natural Lump Charcoal in a pyramid.
    3. Light the newspaper.
    4. As flames die down and charcoal is covered in ash, spread coals over grill and begin cooking.
    5. If using a chimney starter, fill and light according to manufacturer's instructions.

    With Lighter Fluid
    1. Stack Frontier 100% Natural Lump Charcoal in a pyramid.
    2. Apply lighter fluid according to manufacturer's instructions.
    3. Light charcoal in several places.
    4. As flames die down and charcoal is covered in ash, spread coals 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 are the uncarbonized pieces we found in the bag and the one rock.

    This is one of the dense pieces of charcoal referred to in the review.

    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.

    Photo of UPC Code

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

    Contact Information

    This charcoal is distributed by and available from The Grilling Station.

    You should also be able to find this product in Meijer stores in the mid-west.

    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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