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Problems with R.O. Briquettes


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I picked up an AKORN over the summer, and I love it!  Before that, I had been using a Weber Kettle for 5 years.  #


With the Weber, I would use a chimney starter, fill it full of charcoal, light it and give it 10 min, then dump it on one side to get a nice 2-zone setup.  Sometimes, I would give the charcoal another 5-10 min with the grill open to continue heating up.  



First, I used KBB.  Then I tried a few of the natural briquettes.  I found Stubbs to be very good, but expensive, and only available at Lowes, which is out of the way for me.  Trader Joe's was always difficult to light.  I also tried lump a few times, but I found that the big pieces wouldn't light, and the small pieces fell through the grate.  Plus, it tended to get too hot and burned up too quickly.  So I ended up with KBB again.  


When I got the AKORN, I wanted to go to a more natural option.  I know that the AKORN, being steel, won't absorb chemicals and odors the way that a ceramic cooker will, but I also don't need all those chemicals in my food.  


My current method for lighting the AKORN is to fill the bowl, put in a the electric starter so it just has a few coals on top, and let the starter burn for 10 min.  Then, leave the dome open for another 5-10 min so the coals get hot.  Then, close the dome and allow the temp to climb to about 50deg below my target temp.  Once it gets there, I close the bottom to 1/2 and the top to a sliver, and it generally climbs another 30-50 deg and stabilizes.  


I have found the Stubbs to still be a good option, but still expensive.  I think my new favorite is the Weber natural hardwood briquettes.  Bigger, hotter, lights easily, burns a long time.  Lowes has them for $10/ 20#bag.  They are sold out everywhere, but Home Depot also stocks it, and they price match if you ask nicely.  


I also picked up a bag of Royal Oak Briquettes at Lowes.  They sell them at $6/ 15.5lb bag, which makes it the cheapest option per pound.  I've heard that Home Depot sells the same stuff under the label "Embers."  I've also heard that the BGE briquettes are the same stuff.  


In any case, I found that R.O. it took longer to light, and every time I opened the grill, the temp went way down (which is expected) but then took a long time to climb back up.  I was cooking chicken, so I was going for 350 degrees.  Maybe this is a better product for low'n'slow, or maybe it's just a case of YGWYPF.  However, I read some rave reviews online.  


My plan moving forward is to stick with the Weber briquettes.  


Thoughts anyone?  





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Briquettes in a Kamado result in far too much ash. As @Walrus has suggested, use lump. Check out the NakedWhiz website for all sorts of lump comparisons, but for the most part you'll be limited by what's available in your local area. For me, that would be Royal Oak lump at Walmart. Occasionally I've used Cowboy, its reputation in the past wasn't stellar but I've found it's gotten better recently. I don't recall what my Lowe's normally carries, the brands are somewhat hit or miss. 


For lighting, I use FireStarters by Rutland. I cut two in half, place them in four spots in my pile and I'm usually ready to grill in 20 - 30 minutes or so. You can still use your Weber chimney starter and fill it with either briquettes or lump. I've used both methods, it all depends on whether I want to fire up the chimney starter on another grill. 


I do use Royal Oak briquettes in the Weber as they've been reasonably priced at Lowe's. 



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