We use a system comprised of six levels or grades:
Long time readers will note that we formerly used a numerical scale from 0 to 5 in assigning scores to different brands of lump. The reason we have moved to the current system is two-fold. First, over the years we have to admit that our ratings had ended up being markedly top-heavy. We wanted to spread the ratings over a wider range of values and distinguish between them better. The second reason is that we don't think that the difference between a grade of 4.5 vs. 4.6 is terribly meaningful and we hope that readers weren't running around trying to find one particular brand of charcoal simply because it rated a tenth of a point or two higher than another. We didn't feel that we could really produce a score accurate to a tenth of a point so we moved to descriptive labels. Also, rating these charcoals is somewhat subjective. The various attributes of any give brand of charcoal may or may not be important to you, depending on the type of cooker you use and the type of cooking you do. We would encourage our readers to look more at the content of the review and make their decision based on the factors that are important to them. We hope this system provides useful and meaningful information for our readers.
Note that we have kept the numerical scoring system for our Reader Ratings, and nothing will change in that regard.
That said, we take into account many factors in producing our final evaluation. The most obvious are things like ash production, burntime, ease of lighting, size distribution and maximum temperature, all of which we evaluate as a part of reviewing a charcoal. Price is less important, since price varies so much depending on location, shipping and who is selling the charcoal. Also, an evaluation can be bumped up or down somewhat by such things as a company's reputation for customer service and their willingness to assist us in providing our readers with accurate information about their charcoal. But we will re-emphasize that our score is our opinion based on our observations and biases. You the reader should read the entire review and decide for yourself which characteristics of a charcoal are important to you.