I grew up in an area surrounded by charcoal kilns and have a quite vivid memory of smoke coming out from the stuffed holes of those earthen structures. Leave aside pollution, as it was not much of an issue during that time. We played cricket and other sports nearby, feeling protected by the heat generated by those simple man-made mounds in frosty winters. I don’t know about others, but I always thought: What’s the point of burning so much wood to produce little charcoal? The exercise was, I thought, inefficient.
What I later realized was that it wasn’t utterly useless. It burns hotter and cleaner, producing less smoke and ash. However, contrary to popular belief, it won’t infuse your food with flavor, but wood does. If your lump charcoal is properly carbonized–that is, all volatile compounds have been evaporated, leaving behind pure carbon–it can’t and won’t impart any flavor to your steaks or whatever you throw at it. Meathead of the Amazing Ribs makes some arguments on why the quality of raw food, seasonings, and reaching the right internal temperature point is far more important than any charcoal.
Leaving the flavor myth aside, there are some other characteristics that you should look for in a brand, like how pure their charcoal is. Indeed, many important aspects of charcoal, such as burn time, smoke, and ash production, depend solely on how pure it is. You should also pay attention to price point and chunk size. In this review, we’re gonna do the same.
B&B has been a Texas-based, family-owned business since 1961, procuring its charcoal and wood products from private farms to ensure the highest quality possible before Duraflame acquired it.
I’m long since of the opinion that everything a corporate firm touches loses its soul. But people get me wrong here. I’m not saying that the quality goes down the drain, but that the company becomes a money-making machine, selling blatant marketing gimmicks and charging you extra for outright lies.
B&B products were less consistent but significantly cheaper before it was acquired under Duraflame’s umbrella of companies. And the only thing they improved is the average size of the lump charcoal and better quality control at the cost of a steep price.
We tested the B&B Oak Lump Charcoal and found it to be slightly above average. Most of the bag is good-sized (from an inch to several inches) charcoal, with very little dust and chunks. It ensures consistent heat distribution throughout the grilling process. This is a crucial factor in achieving that perfect sear or maintaining steady temperatures for slow and low cooking.
The coals took slightly longer to ignite than those of other brands. Sparking or popping was there, but not too much.
The manufacturer claims on the bag that it burns hotter, longer, and cleaner. In our test, we found that only the first part is true. It got to a higher temperature than most other brands on the market can reach, and that’s it.
Regarding the burn time, the B&B Oak Lump Charcoal performed just average. Compared to other brands, the ash produced was a bit on the higher end of the spectrum.
B&B also claims its charcoal is free from harsh chemicals, additives, and fillers. This is true, but who adds these to lump charcoal? Additives and fillers are for charcoal briquettes, not lump charcoal. Ignore this statement as a gimmick!
Lastly, I appreciate the packaging of B&B Lump Charcoal. It comes in a sturdy bag that is easy to open and reseal, ensuring the charcoal remains fresh and dry for future use. The charcoal itself is neatly packed, with minimal dust or small particles, which is a testament to the attention to detail B&B puts into their product.
- Lights quickly
- Burns longer
- Burns hot
- Excellent packaging
- The bag has a resealable zipper.
- Nice smokey flavor
- Environment and health-friendly, additive-free, 100% natural wood charcoal
- Shooting embers are annoying
- Inconsistent size of charcoal lumps
- The bag can have dust as well.
B&B lump charcoal is a legitimate, above-average product. It definitely burns hotter, though not as long and clean as claimed. It’s still fairly priced than most brands but isn’t cheaper as it once used to be.
The only thing that changed after B&B’s takeover by Duraflame was an increased price. But we must admit that now there’s better quality control in place.
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