What About That Chinese Lump?

Figure 1. A bag of "Chinese Lump" and a closeup of two pieces showing the hexagonal shape and hole down the middle. Thanks to Tim M. for the photo. Poor guy. Had to go all the way to the North Carolina beaches to take this photo.

First of all, what is "Chinese Lump"? Well, for a time, Wal*Mart was selling a brand of lump charcoal named Everflame in their stores. This charcoal was made in China, thus the reference to "Chinese Lump". However, this lump was unlike any other lump we had ever seen before. It is marketed as the "New" charcoal, and is called charcoal logs; not chunks, not briquettes.

First of all, it weighed a ton, or so it seemed. A bag of Chinese Lump weighed 20 pounds, yet was less than half the size of a 20 pound bag of BGE lump. The bag was sturdy and came with a carrying handle, and both were necessary.

The next surprise, and probably the biggest surprise, came when you opened the bag and looked inside. The lump was not what we normally expected to find, either pieces of limbs or milled scrap. The lump was hexagonal logs about 2 inches across that had a hole down the middle. Each log was about 6 inches long. Apparently, this lump had been manufactured by grinding up charcoal and then extruding these logs.

Another surprise was how difficult it was to light this strange new lump. Basically, it was just plain hard to light. Once it was lit, it burned fine, but you really needed to try hard to light it.

The final surprise was how long this lump lasted: almost forever. If you threw a load in the big green egg and cooked with it, you found that it would last many cooks. Frankly, it seemed like forever. Frankly, one wondered if this new charcoal was like wire hangers that mate in the closet when you aren't looking, producing ever-increasing numbers of hangers!

The bottom line general concensus on this stuff was that it was great for extending the life of your regular lump, but most people didn't care to use it by itself. Mixing with regular lump made lighting easier, for one thing.

Then, like so many things at Wal*Mart, the Chinese Lump disappeared from shelves as mysteriously as it had appeared. As of this writing (June, 2002) none of the Wal*Mart stores in my area have it anymore.

For those of you interested, however, here is a link to a webpage that tells all about this strange lump. Apparently it is used in Asia a lot for indoor cooking: About The Making Of Sawdust Briquette Charcoal

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