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horseshoes

KJ big block charcoal tastes bad?

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I’ve burnt through a dozen or so bags of lump since getting my KJ, and almost all of it has been Royal Oak from home depot. I ordered a box of KJ xl big block lump and everything I’ve made on it so far tastes bad. The smoke is overpowering and kind of like an ashtray. I even smell much worse after handling the grill. The brisket was not unbearable, but kind of off tasting. I’ve made salmon a couple of times and it’s unbearably smokey. Wife has loved all of the other salmon I’ve made, but I’ve tried twice with the KJ and she won’t even eat it. Chicken was also bad.

 

I am not adding any smoking wood, I let it burn for at least 30-60 minutes before adding food - basically I wait until it comes up to temp and the smoke changes color to TBS.

 

I’ve tried some temperature ranges, went as low as 225 on the salmon once, and 320 the second time. My theory was that maybe the 225 was smoldering and the fire was not getting enough oxygen, so I tried to run it hotter. I think that actually made it worse. And I’ve never had taste problems running the RO at low temps.

 

Until now I’d be skeptical that lump brands make much taste difference, and given how popular KJ brand lump is, someone would have opinions online if it was bad. But it doesn’t seem to be a personal taste thing. 

 

I use an electric starter, and a Fireboard with a fan. I keep the top vent open just slightly, maybe half way to the first white line on the KJ tower.

 

I noticed that the Royal Oak left the grill with kind of a sweet smokey smell, while the KJ big block is more of a stale ashtray smell. I’d have thought maybe this was all in my head had my wife not also commented on it. She does not pay much attention to what I’m using, and does not know I switched brands.

 

It could be a total coincidence that it happened when I switched brands and is actually unrelated, like maybe the ceramic walls are caked with something bad tasting, but the whole thing is a little odd.

 

I wanted to like the KJ big block, and was going to stock up at the road show, but this is not encouraging. Although the Royal Oak has been doing the job and it’s cheap, it doesn’t seem to last as long, and half the bag seems to be pieces that are too small, especially with the KJ ash basket, the chips just fall through.

 

Has anyone else had this experience? Anything I might be missing?

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I use KJ big block and I have never had that experience but I also do a high heat burn on a regular basis. Ie heating up to 600 F for 20 minutes to 30 minutes then close my vents to burn off any residual drippings etc.      

Edited by Rob_grill_apprentice

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I got KJ big Block when I bought my BJ.  It was okay, nothing uncommon.  I immediately switched away when it was gone because I didn't see it in the stores I frequented.  When the Road Show arrived I bought two bags but haven't opened one yet.

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14 hours ago, horseshoes said:

...KJ xl big block lump ... tastes bad. The smoke is overpowering and kind of like an ashtray....

 

... I wanted to like the KJ big block...

The bad taste and ashtray smell are both commonly associated with a too-young fire. 

 

My one thought is that KJ Big Block needs to be broken up a little, so pieces are smaller than your fist. They burn a long time, but also take a long time to come to temperature. Additional patience may be needed. This is especially true if you've reclaimed a lot of it from a prior fire. 

 

The other thing is to use your nose. If the smoke smells bad, wait until it doesn't. I get acrid notes from young fires that go away in time, even with a lot of smoking wood involved. What do you smell?

 

HAve fun,

Frank

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I have a similar experience with the big block. I bought 4 bags in the last year and had the same experience with all of the bags Purchased  in the  Orlando, Florida area. 

 

I don’t recall the non-big block tasting this off putting.  

 

Im done with the KJ lump. 

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i have used several hundred bags of kamado joe charcoal in its various evolutions.  I have never experienced the problem.  I don't deny that it exists but i have never been able to get anyone to provide me with some of the offending charcoal so I can try it out or look into it a bit deeper to see what the problem might be...

 

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10 hours ago, John Setzler said:

 

Could I pay you to ship me a box of it so I can see if I can tell what is going on with it?

 

 

Sure, I have maybe 1/8th of the box left, if you want the remains. I ordered it from Amazon a few weeks ago (Seattle area). 

 

The Costco road show is here this week, so I think I'll grab one more box from there and see if the results are any different. Maybe I'll wait to see how that turns out, and then contact you for shipping info.

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31 minutes ago, horseshoes said:

 

Sure, I have maybe 1/8th of the box left, if you want the remains. I ordered it from Amazon a few weeks ago (Seattle area). 

 

The Costco road show is here this week, so I think I'll grab one more box from there and see if the results are any different. Maybe I'll wait to see how that turns out, and then contact you for shipping info.

 

They are going to have bags there. I can't say that I have used hundreds of bags like John, but certainly a few dozen and have never experienced anything like what you are describing.

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The bags of charcoal at Costco road show will likely be 30 pound bags versus the 20 pound bags some retailers carry.   At the Costco road I went too last week I picked up 3 bags of 30 pound bags when the bags were place on my storage rack they were much larger then the  existing bags of big block I had which were 20 pounders.  

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28 minutes ago, Rob_grill_apprentice said:

The bags of charcoal at Costco road show will likely be 30 pound bags versus the 20 pound bags some retailers carry.   At the Costco road I went too last week I picked up 3 bags of 30 pound bags when the bags were place on my storage rack they were much larger then the  existing bags of big block I had which were 20 pounders.  

 

exactly

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