Frontier USA Lump Charcoal       Home       Lump Review Index      

Quick Stats
Date Of Review: May, 2010
Purchased From: Ace Hardware
Date Purchased: May, 2010
Price: $12.99
Weight: 20 pounds
Burn Time:
Ash Production:
Type of Wood: US Hardwoods
Strange Material?: None
Scrap Lumber Pieces?: None
Smell: Typical US hardwoods smoke
Country of Origin: USA

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

Rate and Comment
Rate And Comment On This Charcoal: Click Here


We've been promising a review of Frontier's new "made in the USA" lump charcoal and it's time to keep the promise. We had heard that Frontier was selling a new USA version of their lump charcoal which was exciting because this comes to us from PackServ, the same folks that brought us the highly-rated Picnic charcoal. Of course, Frontier's original charcoal was supposed to have been a rebranding of their Picnic brand, but it turned out to be quite a disappointment. But how will their USA version do? Here we go!

First of all, how do you tell this charcoal from their previous non-USA version? The earlier version had a small "Made in Argentina" label on the side of the bag next to the UPC code, as you can see in the photo to the right. The new charcoal has a "Made in USA" label on the bottom of the back of the bag, again next to the UPC code. Also, as far as we are aware, the old Frontier is sold in 10-pound bags, while the new charcoal is sold in a 20-pound "restaurant size" bag, as well as a 10-pound bag. You can see both bag styles on the Frontier web site.

As with all reviews, we start by dumping the bag out onto a plastic sheet for observation and sorting. As you can see from the following table, the news is mostly good regarding the size distribution:

Large 1.8 pounds 8.3%
Medium 7.8 pounds 36.2%
Small 11.1 pounds 51.6%
Chips/Dust 0.8 pounds 3.9%

Total 21.5 pounds

The amount of chips and dust is a very low 3.9%. The only real criticism we have of this charcoal, as you will see as the review progresses, is that there could be less of the small size pieces and more of the large. At least, the size of the majority of the small pieces was close to a golf ball. In pawing through all the pieces in the bag, we came across two small rocks, and about 9 ounces of uncarbonized bark. Personally, we'd discard any of those pieces if we saw them go into the cooker, but then, they were distributed throughout the bag and so you probably wouldn't notice them. (Note that we did not include the 9 ounces of bark in the table above. If you do, you find that your 20-pound bag of charcoal actually contained over 22 pounds. And if you remove the bark and the chips/dust from the bag, you find that your 20-pound bag of charcoal still contains 20.7 pounds of usable charcoal. Fairly impressive.)

Results were average in our chimney starter test. It took four sheets of newspaper to get the charcoal going which is indeed average. While burning in the chimney starter, the charcoal crackled a fair amount but there was no popping. The smoke smelled like your typical American hardwood charcoal, and was relatively mild.

In the maximum temperature test, the charcoal burned just over 1000 degrees which is very high compared to other charcoals. Again there was moderate sparking/crackling and no popping. The fire spread relatively quickly when we added more charcoal to the initial burning charcoal. When we used a MAPP torch to light the charcoal there was a moderate amount of sparking and popping, so be careful if you use any kind of torch to light this and other brands of lump charcoal.

In our burn time test, Frontier's US charcoal burned almost as long as any charcoal we've ever tested. In fact it came in fourth on the all time list. And finally the charcoal produced a very low amount of ash per hour when compared to other charcoals we have tested.

What rating does it get? Well, the charcoal pretty much rocks with its long burn time, low ash, and very reasonable price, but we can't get over the size distribution thing. It really needs fewer small pieces and more large pieces. We've seen a couple of comments posted on the internet agreeing with this sentiment, so it seems that our bag was fairly representative. Nonetheless, Packaging Service Co. has produced another winner. It gets our Recommended rating, just missing being highly recommended.

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


Statements From The Bag

"100% Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal", "Authentic Barbecue Flavor!", Burns Hotter & Longer than Traditional Charcoal", "Finest Cooking Hardwoods for Superior Flavor", "Made in the USA"

"What is Frontier® 100% Natural Lump Charcoal?
As trailblazers 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 tradtion 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 premium 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.
  • Cooking 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


    Unusual or Unique Statements


    The Ruler Used In The Following Photographs

    We use the following ruler in the photographs which follow. The blocks are 1 inch wide. The
    upper scale is in inches, while the lower scale is in centimeters. The distance between the
    centers of the two targets is precisely 9 inches.

    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 two rocks we found in the bag.

    Here are the uncarbonized pieces we found in the bag.

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

    Other Photos


    Photo of UPC Code

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

    Contact Information

    Packaging Service Co., Inc.
    Pearland, Texas 77581

    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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