We swear that we refuse to start up a Briquette Charcoal Database and that we don't review briquettes, yet here we are doing a second product review of a briquette product in three weeks. But, with Home Depot selling these briquettes at 20 pounds for $2.99 over the Memorial Day weekend, and with everyone talking about these briquettes and several of them trying to provide mini-reviews, we felt compelled to jump in with some objective data using our standard tests.
As we said, Home Depot launched this product with a 20 pounds for $2.99 promotion over the Memorial Day weekend. The price is now at $4.99 per bag which, according to The Original Charcoal Company's press release, is being subsidized by Home Depot. We suspect that once the initial excitement is over, the subsidy from Home Depot will dissapear and the price will rise. We will just have to see. But how did the briquettes perform?
First of all, let there be no mistake, these are briquettes, not lump charcoal! We have heard several stories now of people getting these home and discovering to their horror that they have bought briquettes. We don't know how they can make the mistake since the bag is about as clearly labeled as can be, but as you can see from the following photo, we are dealing with briquettes:
Upon opening the bag we found pretty much nothing unexpected. The briquettes are about the size one would expect, barring any information to the contrary. The briquettes were in reasonably good shape, with about 9.5 ounces of the contents being dust and small broken pieces of briquettes.
Lighting was fairly difficult, but that can be as much due to the shape and packing of the briquettes in a chimney starter as it is the charcoal itself. The charcoal burns with the same mild pleasant smoke as you would find with Original Charcoal Company's lump charcoal. And as expected, there was no sparking or popping when lighting this charcoal.
The charcoal burns quite hot, certainly hot enough for grilling needs. It doesn't burn that long, however, burning the same length of time that we measured for Kingsford's new charcoal. And of course, it produces large amounts of ash. Less than Kingsford but more than any brand of lump charcoal we have ever tested. We doubt you could do an overnight cook in a ceramic cooker with these briquettes.
UPDATE: We made a recent observation that after having been used in our maximum temperature test and allowed to cool, the briquettes become very fragile. When we attempted to remove them from the cooker and place them in a bucket, about half the volume of the remaining briquettes crumbled to powder and thus would be unusable for further cooking.
So, we don't feel these briquettes serve much purpose for ceramic cookers, but for traditional grills the price is right and you have a natural briquette that contains only charcoal and a starch binder. As we stated, these briquettes have been introduced at Home Depot nationwide, and you can contact The Original Charcoal Company at:
The Original Charcoal Companey