New Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes

Bag of Kingsford Charcoal with Sure Fire Grooves
Bag of Kingsford Charcoal with Sure Fire Grooves

Kingsford Charcoal Woes

I have been having issues with Kingsford Charcoal briquettes lately. I usually pick up a double pack of charcoal while I am at Costco getting some meat to BBQ. On a recent trip, I come to find out that my local Costco only carries the Kingsford Match-Light Instant Light Charcoal. I’m not a big fan of the Instant Light because all of the chemicals that will make your BBQ taste funny, so I had to press on. All that I wanted was my regular Kingsford briquettes.

Plan two was Smart & Final, I already had to go there to pick up some BBQ supplies. I found a double bag of what seemed like the old favorite with one significant difference, it had ridges, or what Kingsford refers to as “Sure Fire Grooves.” What the heck is a Sure Fire Groove? I wasn’t exactly sure, but after further research, I come to find out that these grooves are a standard feature across all of Kingsford charcoal products.

These Sure Fire Grooves supposedly allow the charcoal to be lit faster (in fifteen minutes) and burn more evenly for a longer time. Now this is really messing with my mind because I never had a problem with the way the old charcoal worked. Why would you even think about changing a winning formula? It has worked well all these years why change it? Lighting it was never a problem in a chimney starter… BTW, why doesn’t Kingsford make a charcoal chimney starter? Duration was never a problem with the old charcoal and I have yet to find that the Sure Fire Grooves to burn longer. It actually seems as though they don’t burn quite as long. Now, that is just an opinion, but it seems that way. I wish I could get a hold of some of the old stuff to put it to the test, but it is no longer available.

One thing that I have noticed is that this new briquette design becomes much more fragile as it burns. So, if you are someone who likes to adjust your charcoal briquettes after they are lit you might find yourself dealing with a pile of lit ash. This also poses a problem if you are the type of person who uses these briquettes for outdoor dutch-oven cooking. Nobody likes briquettes that fall apart once they are lit.

Kingsford Charcoal with new grooves
Kingsford Charcoal with new grooves

I am not sure what Kingsford was thinking when they decide to change this age-old design… it was probably some market research guy who wanted to be known as the person who reinvented the charcoal briquette. There have been some arguments against using briquettes because of the additives that are used in their production… believe it or not charcoal doesn’t naturally come in perfectly formed little briquettes. But, I was willing to use the briquettes for the strong and steady heat that was produced by them. It was one constant in the world of BBQ that you could count on again and again. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case and I might have to start using more lump charcoal.

Sure Fire Grooves courtesy of Kingsford market research.

Kingsford Charcoal with new grooves top view
Kingsford Charcoal with new grooves top view

Top view of the Sure Fire Grooves

92 thoughts on “New Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes”

  1. H Brett and all. We are on our fourth Weber kettle since 1970. We leave them outside, so 12 years of service each is pretty good. I use a large garden hand shovel after cleaning the kettle, and arrange the the charcoal with the shovel. I use an electric starter for the charcoal, starting at the center and then both sides. I went to load the charcoal from our bucket for BBQ chicken, and the shovel came up with a gooey coal tar. I cleaned the shovel, and then ran to Lowe’s to buy a new bag of Kingsford charcoal, after throwing out the old bucket. A couple of weeks later I cooked a couple of bone-in ribeye steaks surrounding a skirt steak. But, yesterday, I went out to cook our 4th of July brats, hotdogs, and smoked sausages, and the charcoal was a soft coal tar mess again, so we finished the meal inside. I have kept charcoal on our back porch for months in the past. With a life of 2 or 3 weeks, Kingsford has radically changed their binder, so now I have another bucket of goo to throw out into the garbage. I think it’s time to change to Royal Oak charcoal, if I can find it. I t should burn hotter and longer. I hope this helps all, and the best of regards.

  2. Glad to know I’m not half-baked in my opinion about Kingsford–although I would be (half-baked) if I were roasted over Kingsford briquets. I had had reasonable results with the old Kingsford original and thought I would try the charcoal/mesquite blend since I like the flavor and high temp of mesquite. WHAT A DISASTER? I just returned two big bags of it to Safeway. It never even got my trusty Weber up to 400 to cook a couple of burgers! Lighted fast? YES, but burned out to a huge heap of ash even more quickly. I was also glad to see in this comments that Kroger is made by Royal Oak, since I went to QFC and replaced the Kingsford with two bags of Kroger’s original.

  3. The ridges make for a smaller briquette which in turn costs us the consumers almost twice as much to do the same job the original kingsford used to do. Their product was the only charcoal my entire family ever used. No matter who’s house we went to. Uncles, grandparents, cousins,parents and brothers. You could always walk out into the garage and find the old blue and white bag of kingsford next to the barbeque. Not anymore. We all stopped using their now inferior and quite frankly “worthless” product. Their name is now a joke in the bbq world. Hope all you guys at kingsford choke on the profits for the crap product you put out there.

  4. My family used Kingsford and and only Kingsford throughout the 1970s and ’80s. The briquets were solid and burned forever. The comments above are 100% correct. Gas is my main fuel now, but the few times a year I use Kingsford charcoal, the briquettes are noticeably lighter and burn down significantly quicker. I would estimate that one needs twice as much charcoal today as one used to. It’s a shame because it really affects how food cooks over the coals.

  5. I just had a meal of bloody chicken and rock hard veggies in my trusty 12″ Dutch Oven, thank you New and Improved Kingsford Charcoal: Here is the reason: old briquettes were 28 grams or one ounce, new ones are 22.5 ounces or 20% lighter in weight (I weighted them). Old briquettes were fat pillows that burned slow and steady new ones have huge surface area and go up like newspaper. Worse yet, they make a HUGE amount of ash. I did the Math: using 24 Kingsford Briquettes, new and improved, I got 60% of the heat and hence the bloody chicken. Oh, I paid 33% more for these crappy things, 12 bucks for 16.6 lbs instead of 9 bucks for 20 lbs.
    WTF? are they sourcing out of China now?? All my charcoal notes on meals are out the window now, I used Kingsford for decades for consistency and reliability. The Backyard Family Barbeque is now trashed. I hope they are spending the profits well. Clearly just whoring after money on this latest move. Solution: I now buy twice the briquettes to cook the same stuff when camping.

  6. So far since my last post I have bought a Chaebriol gas grill, a Big Easy inferred turkey fryer, a Big Easy Electric smoker roaster, and my daughter just got me a new Weber 22” Kettle (witch with my old one I’ve always used with Kingsford coal until the new and improved came out) for fathers day. Just for the hell of it I loaded both my Webers with coal (1 with SAM’s 1 with Kingsford) did 2 beer butt chickens, the one with Sam’s was done before and had plenty of cooking time left. As for the Kingsford coals were gone, had ash on it and had to finish it on my gas grill. That right there tells me Kingsford is no more the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. What bean counter has gotten a hold of Kingsford and ruined a good thing? The flavor is totally gone. I agree with all the above comments. Burns hot, made a sticky tar-like pitch, died quickely and the slightest wind drift put ash all over the food. I am no longer brand loyal. I will be going to Royal Oak

  8. WOW!!!! Im blown away! I didnt realize there were so many comments about Kingsford! I started seriously grilling on charcoal about 5 years ago (grill about 4 out of 7 nights per week). Unfortunately, Im unaware of the “old style” Kingsford. I wish I had the opportunity today to try it. Regardless, I use Kingsford because it seems to last longer than any other brand I have tried(within the past 5 years). On Memorial day of last year, Lowes was selling 2-20pound bags for $7.50. I bought 10 bundles(20 bags). I would like to purchase a pallet in hopes of getting a better price.
    I cook strictly on the soft side (coals on one side/meat on the other)of the grill….so I need a charcoal that stays hot for a long time. Any suggestions on brands? Ive tried Cowboy Charcoal, Royal Oak, Southern Home, etc…..Only the “High Dollar” Kingsford seems to work for my style of cooking. I would appreciate any advice from the “Pros” thats been grilling for all their lives!
    Thx Much!

  9. We received a Weber grill for our wedding in 1971. I have seen Kingsford play these games not once or twice, but at least FOUR times over the years. The original Kingsford (in ’71 anyway) was good high quality charcoal. They started playing the “quality-quanity” game sometime in the 80’s or 90’s. I’ve sworn off of even buying this stuff several times over the years, but always hoped they’d go back to the (original???) quality. This time I’m DONE with them and start checking out other brands. They KNOW BETTER than to call this stuff “original”. It’s a wonder someone did’nt call them leagally on this. ****Kingsford**** is a Joke.

  10. I was looking for someone else to have picked up on this over the last 3 years so here’s my conspiracy theory.

    It’s really a conspiracy to get us to buy more charcoal, in retaliation to those of us who know how to shut the dampers on our Webers to extinguish the fire and save the fuel for the next fire. After one use the “improved” thinner Kingsford briquettes will ball through the chimney starter and drop through the charcoal grate when you try and shake off the ash.

    In the old days charcoal was never reused. With a Weber I can reuse the charcoal up to three times before it’s ash. with the old briquettes I got up to five times. What’s your carbon footprint. Not to mention, budget…

  11. If you have a Kroger in your area, try the Kroger brand charcoal.. While it’s not exactly the same as the old Kingsford formula, it’s pretty darn close!

    • In response to Mike R’s reply, the Kroger private label is packaged by Royal Oak Enterprises in either our Crossville, TN or Branson, MO facilities. Matter of fact MOST private label brands are produced by Royal Oak. I see day in and day out how our briquets out perfrom Kingsford’s Shurfire Grooved briquets. And I as a competitor agree, they had a good, consistant product….the key word here is “had”.

  12. Wholeheartedly and sadly agree with much I’m reading here. I’ve been using these coals nearly 30 years, always had rave reviews for them, made fun (and often was the envy) of my gas grilling buddies, they always came back for that good taste. Unfortunately Kingsford charcoal briquettes have changed not for the better. The narrower ridged briquettes get hot real fast, become brittle too soon, die quickly (used to be able to cook multiple times with the same coals or only with minor reinforcement), and break or fall through the grate rendering them useless. And what is this layer of crap forming up and around all the vent holes on the lid now? It’s impossible to put up with this anymore because the flavor of the meat is now suffering, and that’s just unforgivable. Defeats the whole purpose of grilling a tasty meal outside in the first place. Time for a change. I’m looking hard at my (non-gas grilling) options, something I never thought I’d do.

  13. The new Kingsford does burn hot. You bet. I have been grilling for 37 plus years now and mostly over charcoal. So, yes, I do know how to grill. Today, the new Kingsford charcoal warped my 22.5 Weber kettle lid so that it does not fit now. This charcoal puts out a lot of ash and sludge – grill lid and food covered with particles and Weber (now warped) had residue. Totally lost the Kingsford flavor which is why I stuck with the brand. If I want hot and wood hint, then I’ll go with real wood or natural lump charcoal. Might as well toss in the towel and shift to gas grilling or just cook inside. I was buying the Kingsford flavor. That’s gone, and then it’s too hot now – plus burns out fast. Can’t think of anything positive to say about the new Kingsford charcoal.

  14. You long-time charcoal cooking gurus are scaring me! I just got back into the “old school” style of BBQ after a number of years ruining good meat on a gas grill, and now I find there’s a hotbed of discussion on whether or not Kingsford briquettes (original) are suitable for cooking good meat. If not Kingsford, then what? Help me here guys because I’m not as sophisticated or as seasoned as the rest of you, I want smoke and flavor and dependability; what do I need to use to come up to speed with my BBQ efforts???

  15. Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based upon on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

  16. Been using Kingsford for a long time and this last year has been the worst i have used. The only thing i see with the new and improved Kingsford is the amount of money they are making because we have to use so much more coal to cook. Think it is BS, wont be using it no more

  17. We are looking for a new charcoal to use. We are having the same problems that most of the reply’s above are having. Ash, smoke and a much shorter cooking time. We are having no problems getting the charcoal lit with a chimney. We leave in Southwest Texas and are able to BBQ all year with just a few exceptions. I am not going to continue to use Kingsford if they don’t switch back to the original briquette. Because of the groves there is more surface area exposed and that will cause it to burn faster. Simple physics. Does anyone know of a good alternative charcoal?

  18. I have been using Kingsford for 40 years with no problems.For the last year or two I have been very dissatisfied with Kingsford.It does not last no ways the time the old Kingsford did and I have a very hard time cooking with this newer version.Please go back to the old Kingsford.

  19. I am so disappointed in the current briquettes. They are made so small and crappy now I can’t even get the food in my dutch oven done before they turn to nothing but ash. I tried making a peach cobbler that only needed to cook for 1 hour and could not get it done before all the briquettes were ash. I had to finally put my dutch oven in my oven to finish getting the cobbler cooked. I used to swear by the “Kingsford” brand but, not any longer.

  20. Someone in Clorox Marketing got to Kingsford and these new coals, as well as their alleged “competition” coals, burn faster, requiring that you buy more. They need to go back to the original design. It’s worked, for me, for over 35 years and I now find myself looking for old blue bag, or trying something else.

  21. I can’t believe how fast (Kingsford)the new charcoal goes out. All I can imagine is that they’re making it out of cardboard now. The Lump stuff it harder to use in small lots because of the size variations. I’m looking for a better brand.

  22. My husband and I have been using Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes for years. He has seen in the last year or so that the regular briquette bag of 20 lbs is now a bag of 16-18 lbs. and the briquette is thinner which does not burn as long. It’s understandably that a company these days is having problems with economic issues as well as the individual. But, to decrease the bag size, decrease the briquette size and then double the cost is stretching it. Everyone has a budget; and if we have to, we will find another briquette~~if there is one.

  23. I have been bbqing for 30 years now and consider it as second-nature. This week with the new Kingford’s charcoal briquets which are suspiciously lighter in weight and burn much quicker, I have undercooked a chicken and overcooked lamb kabobs because they did not brown. Our Webber has a thermometer and does not heat up properly unless I use quite a bit more charcoal! Not a very “Green” concept. Perhaps this is just another ploy by a company to boost profits! I will be looking for a new source for charcoal.

  24. I tried the “new and improved” charcoal today, and I agree with the rest of you that it while it may be new, it certainly isn’t improved. The new version only burns half as long (if it stays burning at all) and completely disintegrates in half the time. I’d have better luck using well dried horse muffins than this crap (while this may work for dutch ovens, I wouldn’t recommend this substitute for grilling).

    Why mess with a good thing? I’m completely disgusted and won’t be recommending kingsford to anyone.

  25. I have to agree with BBQMaster. I purchased the new “Competition” charcoal at Costco this year and have tried it in several grilling situations. The ONLY time I was OK with the results was using it for hot and fast grilling of steaks and burgers. Using it for 2 zone cooking or low and slow smoking was a disaster. I did an 8 lb. pork shoulder last weekend that takes about 5 hours on my Fire Magic grill with an adjustable coal bed height. Using the old Kingsford briquettes I would typically add about 10-15 briquettes an hour. Using the new competition briquettes I was dumping in 15-20 briquettes about every 45 minutes.

    I was used to adding smoke by using a stainless steel smoker box that I put right on top of the charcoal. Not with the new briquettes I’ve since learned. The new ones turn to soft ash so quickly they don’t support the smoker box so I found myself building a briquette bunker around the box to keep it hot enough. This turns out to be a pain as it is much harder now to open the smoker box lid to add additional soaked wood chips.

    This weekend I’m going shopping for another brand or minimally the original Kingsford briquettes. I’ll dump the remaining competition briquettes in a bucket and save them for grilling steaks, if I can afford to buy a steak after all the money I’ll have spent on trying to find a good ol’ charcoal briquette.

  26. I really liked Kingsford Charcoal. Now they came out with “competition” charcoal (junk). Same briquettes, label change only. I can only use it for grilling burgers, dogs or steak. It lights fast enough for me…sometimes to fast and burns out quicker. I gave up using it for my slow n low smoking. I had that down to a well oiled science before they changed the product.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if they came out and said that (any of the following)’

    EPA regs won’t allow the old mix

    We were bought out by ‘Quick Bux Mfg” and found a cheaper mix

    They were/are being bamboozled by some marketing firm from NY City.

    or that the “greenies” are upset by the old mixes carbon footprint.

    The Emperors New Clothes indeed!

  27. Been grilling for over 20 years. Last year, I’ve been practicing with lump charcoal. This year I went back to Kingsford Briquettes because it was the the supermarket. What I’ve found is:

    * Smokier after lighting.
    * More ash, ash on food (like another commentor)
    * Lower heat, shorter burning time
    * Fragile briquettes. Fragile after ashing over and many half bricks and pieces in the bags.

    Someone said they have a cook time of 88 minutes. Well, after 20-30 minutes after ashing over, I find they develop a thick coat of ash and the temp goes way down. If you touch the charcoals, move the grill, or even get a gust of wind, that ash ends up on your chicken or food. The last two bags, I’ve had to put unlit charcoals on the ashed charcoals to keep the heat going for chicken and brats. This is crazy.

    It’s got me frustrated because Kingsford was the only brand I trusted. Now, it’s just junk. I’m gonna have to hunt down some specialty briquettes or that lump charcoal. The cooking time was less with the lump charcoal, but it was still better than the ‘new’ briquettes.

  28. Just got a bag of the new, improved “starts faster, lasts longer” charcoal. Grilled a New York Strip from my favorite butcher and I got a whole lot of “not steak” flavor. I’ve been grilling on Weber grills for almost fifty years. Meat’s good, grill’s good, cook’s good, so the variable is the charcoal. This stuff might be ok for drying out workboots, but for grilling, it sucks. I think it must be adulterated with dog wham.

  29. me and my buddy want to purchase a pallet of kingsford as we are sick and tired of always running out and it seems to be getting pricier all the time Im sure we could get a pretty good deal on quantity how do we do that??

  30. I don’t know how anyone is getting this new coal even lit. After the starter fluid burns down it goes out on us. Match Light is the only one we can get lit for some reason. Anyone else having this problem??

  31. I went to the Kingsford website. There does not seem to be a Link to contact them. Did I miss something? I want to send them my (negative) comments on the “new and improved”.

  32. The new stuff really stinks. Why take a product that works great and screw it up? I grill two to three times a week most of the year and several times during the cold MN winter months. I sell this exclusively
    at my store. The claims that it is “better” do not hold true for me and my Weber. It does not burn as long as the old product or perform better in any other way. I will go back to using the competitor’s brand until they see the error of their ways!

  33. i went to kingsford website in search of what happened to the charcoal and obviously, i’m not the only one. what happened to the good original charcoal? cant seem to keep the heat going like it used to. smoking chicken is out with this new stuff. what a shame……….. help!

  34. I’ve been useing Kingsford for a very long time (I’m 76) in a Weber cooker. I too am very dissatified with the “new” charcoal. I’m pleased to read others are also dissatified with the product.
    Bring back the old!!!

    PS: I used up over 440#’s of charcoal this past winter, as I cook year around; point being, I’ve given Kingsford a fair trial. Unless they go back to the “original” size and shape, I won’t be buying this brand.

  35. I have been a loyal Kingsford user for over 40 years. Something has changed. My grill has black tar like pitch on it now after cooking. When I try to open the lid after it’s cooled, it is sealed shut by the tar pitch. I have never experienced this with the old style Kingsford. The cook time is greatly less, normally I have to finish whatever I’m cooking on the gas grill which I don’t like to admit. I’m totally dissatisfied with the Kingsford product now. I used to brag about Kingsford, now I can’t do that. Unhappy Kingsford user may now have to turn to the gas grill for my outdoor cooking or Royal Oak.

  36. I’ve been using Kingsford Charcoal for 15 years cooking over 200 pigs and many chickens. This year I’m having a big problem with the ash on my food, I have to cover everything with foil. I have not had this problem until this year. I called Kingsford, seemed interested they took my information, haven’t heard anything. I will be trying some new charcoal. Unfortunately, I do not recommend Kingsford charcaol briquettes at this time.

  37. Kingsford Employee 2 basically described a lot of the differences, but I want to stress that it is pivotal to control the vents and remember that Kingsford with SureFire grooves is ready to cook on faster.

    Hypothetical grilling scenarios:

    Old Kingsford is ready in 15 minutes and has cooled below cooking temperature at 90 minutes.

    New Kingsford is ready in 10 minutes and has cooled below cooking temperature at 88 minutes.

    If you continue to grill the same way you used to, starting at the same time, you will have less cooking time. Also, if you leave it in the chimney for too long which is great for radiating heat and burning up the coals, a lot of that carbon is going to burn up before the charcoal is in the grill.

    For low and slow, as described above, you will most likely need to close up the vents more. Make sure to control the temperature and you should be fine. I have seen the new product work just as well as the old using the Minion method in a WSM. For those who are complaining about the 18 lbs, it’s true when it says that it performs the same as 20 lbs of old Kingsford. Both bags have the same number of briquets. If you fill up a WSM charcoal chamber, there will be the same number of briquets in the chamber whether using old or new, which corresponds to an equal number of bags per use. There will be less total mass, but it performs more efficiently. Another note for those having trouble with low and slow using the Minion method: consider using fewer lit briquets in the beginning. For instance, if you used to use 20 for the old product, try 15 with the new product.

    • I have used kingsfofd charcoal for years. The last two bags i have used havenot been worth throwing in the garbage. I cook some of the best BBQ arround. I donot know what is happening to your product,but iam truely disapointed with these last results.

  38. Ok. 99.9% of Kingsford users could care less.
    I switched to Lump and noticed my steaks less flavor, and cooked uneven. You guys piss and moan about less product due to the grooves. How about spending double money on a bag of lump coal, that is 30% dust or small obsolete crumbs. Two chimneys of the new stuff will smoke my ribs for 5 hours in my WSM with the bottom vents at 20% open, maintaining a constant temp of 230. The only time I use lump is with the Minion Method on a 12 hour + smoke for a shoulder or brisket!
    I cook on my kettle almost every night of the week. I enjoy that it lights faster!
    Kingsford rules keep up the great work.
    Oh and the smell is the best part. It brings back happy memories of days at the park or pop firing up the grill as I played in the back yard.
    Keep up the good work!

  39. Spelling? (sic)? Hugh Jass what are you talking/typing about? It is not a personal attack but if you want to spell check reply’s or email’s in your free time…go ahead…

  40. I was just curious about the current opinions on the “new” (now not-so-“new”-anymore) Kingford charcoal after the stuff has been around a couple of years. I Googled up this old blog and, lo and behold, people still hate the stuff! I have to agree.

    I quit using Kingsford after trying several bags of the new stuff back in the very beginning. Prior to that, I was a Kingsford user and recommender. I found the new “groovey” Kingsford does indeed light faster but it also burns up a lot faster, there was less of it in the bag than before and it doesn’t work as well for a several hour barbequin’/smokin’ project. Back around Memorial Day, I was saddened to see the local Walmart only had mountains of Kingsford in stock. I rummaged around and found two small bags of Sam’s Choice that, with some leftover Royal Oak, got me through my weekend cookout. All the local stores have mountains of Kingsford but little of the other brands around. I was getting worried that the new groovey Kingsford was approaching taking over the market and forcing out the competition. It then dawned on me that the reason there was so much Kingsford in stock was because the other brands were selling out while Kingsford’s stock was moving slow.

    My experience since I stopped using Kingsford is that all the store brands I’ve tried (including one made in China) as well Royal Oak briquettes are better than Kingsford’s new stuff–both for low, slow barbeque and for grilling. Using a Weber chimney starter, they all light adequately fast and all of them burn slower and last longer. Ash production varies by the brand. All of them are at least as consistent as Kingsford.

  41. I just opened my first bag of the new Kingsford charcoal. I noticed a strong plastic smell that persisted throughout the heat up in the chimney as well as throughout an hour of cooking beef and venison. During the heat up the smell of styrofoam was not as intense as real burning styrofoam, but it was stron g enough for me to watch my coals carefully. After 17 minutes my coals were not ready. This is the same chimney I always use and 12 minutes is always enough. I dumped the Kingsford coals to inspect them – they really stunk. I reloaded the chimney with the same partially ashed (15% – yes, I counted) coals and loaded fresh newspaper and watch the white ooze appear on three of the top coals. It bubbles up and looks like a liquid, but when you touch it it is very hard and must be broken off the coal. These were not in areas already ashed. The 2nd time loaded did produce white coals in about ten minutes but they really stunk. I continued to use them as per normal, cooking hamburgers (70/30 beef), venison sausage, and hot dogs. The hambergers were not burned in any way. They were cooked for three minutes per side and the grill adjusted for wide open air supply and choked exhaust to intensify the smoked flavor (I really like BBQ). When I pulled all the meat off it had condensed a brittle coating on uncharred surfaces that had a distinctive crunch in places as if the meat had contacted the burning coals, which it had not. I had to throw away the very smelly, tough and crackling surfaced food. I have never used a briquette with such a nasty binder and I have thousands of grilling and smoking time under my belt (big belt). Kingsford had a good product, they do not now. I noticed several Kingsford employees are in the blog. Please take this email and this bag lot number back to the lab for me and fix this. I really hate to see any business that has been such a blessing to so many fail, but fail you will if this bag represents the future. The lot number is SS8 122320224. I do not have the food, but I do have the bag of coals if anyone wants to send a prepaid shipping container.

  42. All you Jabroni’s out there beating up on the new Kingsford product are truly sad and cheap. Probably the type if it cost you a nickle to take a dump, you would throw up! I have NO problems with the new briquette. The fuel smell is probably way TOO much lighter fluid or the Match Light briquettes. Anyone with self respect to light a fire does NOT use a petroleum based product. Sam fu you too, learn how to grill and bbq. Kingsford employee’s, I have your back with my ’04 Weber Performer. I beleive in American made products!!!

  43. Guys, if you get less product in the Kingsford bags now may be that is a good thing, considering all the obnoxious components in the mix. I see previous posts that mention charcoal and binder only, no allusion to all the fillers and mineral coal, coke, etc. No wonder you get nearly 30% ashes (not really ashes, these are the fillers). In Europe they do not meet quality requirements to be used for cooking. Only real charcoal (more than 90%) and organic binder is allowed there.
    Until similar rules are implemented here, our best bet is to use lump (natural, not from industrial discards)and 100% natural hardwood charcoal briquettes. Hint:100%, natural, hardwood, if you do not read that in the bag, only “charcoal briquettes” you get some carbonized sawdust and plenty fillers, mineral coal and whatever else somebody wants to get rid of.
    Have a look at this link:
    for a very illustrative description of the Kf briquettes (or the chinese, etc, they do not have lump, what they make the briquettes from?


  44. Since my husband passed away, I have put off using the grill. I have 1 1/2 bags of Kingsford charcoal briquettes at least 8-10 years old (stored in an unheated utility room). Will a product that old still work as well as a new (probably different brand now that I’ve read the comments!) product??

  45. I’ve used the Sam’s Club briquettes and found that they go out when I set them at the same draft/air settings as my old Kingsford. Got my grill set up to slow and low smoke and cook my brisket and pork shoulders without adjusting it for 8-10 hrs. New Kingsford worked OK for 2 1/2 hrs of burgers and chicken at a company picnic but got to find a replacement for my ‘pit’.

  46. Now it seems that Royal Oaks has taken a tip from Kingsford. I bought 3 bags (18 lbs) of their “Premium Charcoal Briquets” a few weeks ago and have used them 4-5 times. Last night it took nearly an hour for the coals to ash over and be ready to cook! Last week I cooked chicken for 14 people and it took FOREVER. The coals were totally spent by the time the chicken was cooked. Unfortunately, Kingsford and Royal Oaks are the only brands widely available.

  47. I found at Sam’s Club some briquettes that are made 60%
    larger than regular briquettes
    they last longer and has decent heat

  48. i bought my 40 th bag of kingsforsd and i finnaly give in . u guys suck ass unless you intended for me to taste lighter fluid on my burger.!!!
    I swear i will never by another bad of kingsford unless i try to kill myself
    you have made me a propane guy for life\
    PS fu

  49. About fifteen years ago I came accross an Embers charcoal chimney. After watching it work, I had to have one. Now it is in terrible shape, cant be fixed. I would like to buy another like it. It is in the shape of an inverted cone, eleven inches high, nine inches at the base, seven inches at the top. If anyone out there has seen one like this for sale, please let me know. They work so much better than straight walled chimneys. thanks big steve

  50. About 15 years ago someone showed me an Embers charcoal chimney. After watching it work I had to have one. But now it is almost beyond repair. I want another, but Embers is gone. The reason it worked so well was that it was an inverted cone, eleven inches high, nine inches at the base, seven inches at the top. Cone shaped chimneys work about 30% faster and get all the charcoal burning, even the outside of the outer pieces. If anyone out there has seen a new chimney like this for sale, please let me know. [email protected]. Thanks

  51. Here is my gripe, I do not get the great Kingsford charcoal taste I got with the old version. This new stuff is definitly worse. I tested it side by side. Unfortunally I am out of the old stuff now.

    Maybe the Kingsford employees can suggest to get it back, maybe call it Kingsford Gold!!

    I don’t care if the bag weighs less, give me back the charcoal taste!!

    As fas as charcoal from China, if you can’t make dog food you can’t make charcoal, or toothpaste for that matter!

  52. So, if all the grooves were about was reducing material, Kingsford would have raised the price. It would have been much easier. In fact, in addition to the grooves Kingsford did not just reduce material but after significant testing and work with users, adjusted the carbon/binder proportions to improve the product. Additionally, as it relates to the grooves you are spot on that the grooves do not produce more heat in total– but the grooves do aid the burn profile such that the total amount of heat at cooking temperature is longer. Same concept as the pillow shape itself and impact on the burn profile– the edges light quicker and the middle takes longer to burn. Bottom line is that Kingsford product continues to deliver great quality and consistency to the bbq experience.

  53. Dear “Kingsford Employee”:

    Charcoal is largely carbon, which is the active element that burns with oxygen to produce CO2 and heat. The “binder” and other noncarbonaceous stuff is what is left over after the burn — in other words, ash.

    If you burn less carbon, by mass, you get less heat. 18 lbs of briquettes produce 10% less heat than 20 lbs, assuming the same proportion of carbon/binder. Grooves may give you a faster startup, but WILL NOT PRODUCE MORE HEAT. I

    There’s a simple way of resolving this debate: if you want customers to stop criticizing the new Kingsford, put 20 lbs in a 20 lb bag for the same price as the “old” Kingsford (with the same carbon content as the old formulation).

    Quite frankly, most of us have been exposed to 20 – 40 years of corporate BS intended to persuade us that ‘less is more’. You can’t buy a pound of coffee in a can anymore, haven’t for years because the number of ounces in “one pound” cans has been steadily shrinking. Have consumers been fooled by these stealth price increases? Not since unit pricing. But the coffee companies are still pulling the same dumb trick and imagining that they’re fooling us. (See Andy Rooney’s take on this:

    The real question here is “How dumb do you think we are”?

  54. I agree with the majority! I hate to feel like I’m getting ripped off! I’ve always used Kingsford, but I’m ready to look for a new brand. Less charcoal per briquette, faster burn time and higher costs! Enough is enough! And then they changed the weight of the bags and thought we would’nt notice! Local midwest stores regularly put Kingsford on sale for anywhere between 5.99 and 7.49, usually averaging 6.99. What a deal! I think we can do better.

  55. So, I would only emphasize that Kingsford cares a great deal not just about grilling, but BBQing… People working on the grooves are BBQers and talk to BBQers. The charcoal with grooves are made to be more efficient and consistent than ever before. It lights faster, but has more cook time. For low and slow, it does require adjustment to how you cook. Close off the vents even more to hold to same low temperature for even longer. Result is less moisture & juices will escape producing best low and slow results from Kingsford ever- this is feedback from competion teams. It addition, you’ll still find because of our quality standards as we char the wood to make the briquette it’s the most consistent product to use for a low and slow Q.

  56. I am surprised you people haven’t stumbled onto the real reason for the grooves and the changes to KingFords, it is simple, White Castle did it years ago with the holes they put into their patties.

    One: Less Charcoal per briquette means they can make more briquette for same price (more profit for same amount of material

    Two: If it burns faster, it means you have to buy more quicker and also use more charcoal per que.

    I noticed this a long time ago when I purchased a another brand of charcoal and notice how their briquettes completely dwarfed Kingsford. KingsFord did the same trick again only it is much more obvious now.

    I personnally dislike company when they tried to get you from both ends! Oil companies anyone?!!
    Good Bye KingsFord!

  57. So, I’m not alone. Perhaps some drug lord bought Kingsford and needed a money losing & laundering operation. What else could explain the new, lousy product with mark-ups exceeding 50% beyond he previous pricing?

  58. We grill all the time and havent used Kingsford since i found out its made by Ford so, i found this Royal Oak now, those butt heads at Wally World dont sell the Royal Oak, i bought the Kingsford all Natural because they burn better than the briquets. Now they burn WAY too fast and dont burn with as much heat, i cant even re-use the charcoal like i did with the Royal Oak and cost more! Whats the website or where can i buy them?…


  59. You have got to try, The Original Charcoal Company!! They have both a briquette, as well as a hardwood. Both products are AWESOME!!! Original Charcoal features all natural product from South America. It burns hotter and longer, plus has a better taste without all of the chemical flavor of Kingsford. They are in Home Depot this summer, as well as COSTCO in Texas.

    Take care! Margaret

  60. I was just reading the local ACE Hardware sale paper and noticed Kingsford Charcoal in an 18 lb bag. Eighteen pounds??? When did they switch from TWENTY pounds to EIGHTEEN pounds? Furthermore, I want to know who authorized that change! All my life (47 years) I’ve been seeing any brand of charcoal in TWENTY pound bags. Now all the sudden EIGHTEEN pound bags????? Looks to me like some CEO will be getting a HEFTY bonus check this year!

  61. Relax everyone, you’ll soon see a new and great alturnative charcoal briquette out in the market made buy china charcoal. Don’y be fooled by the name…’s less expensive and better quality than that old brand.

  62. I’ve worked for kingsford for 13 years and have never seen the mysterious white ooze. While i sit and read all you guys had to say with four other KINGSFORD employees we can’t help but be shocked by the disloyalty. Surely you don’t believe kingsford is trying to screw you guys out of a couple pounds a bag. They had the customers best interest in mind 100 %.I/we truly believe kingsford rules. p.s. Royal Oak Blows

  63. the sure fire grooves are a great idea yall just wanna bash. we are the best damn charcoal producers in the world. and if you want lump coal we make that also.

  64. Dear Sir,
    We are a trading company in Jordan – Middleast, and we are interested in your product of Coal.
    Kidly we request you to send us some details about that coal, with the price list.

    with my best regards,

    Emad AbuSaid
    Amman – Jordan
    00962 7 95775776
    [email protected]
    [email protected]

  65. Has anyone else noticed the white stuff oozing from their NEW KINGSFORD BRIQUETTS, looks like styrofoam? I also noticed an odor that kinda takes your breath away like amonia. I thought I was nuts,I mean kingsford is the best right? so I used up the 1st bag then bought another bag before I realized they did more than just put grooves in the new stuff. Its ROYAL OAK from now on. Didn’t anyone learn from Coke not to mess with a good thing?

  66. Don’t you love it. They put grooves in, taking material out – while keeping the same number of briquetts in the bag, which as someone pointed out all contain about 10% less charcoal for the same price. Oh yeah, they say it lasts as long too. Yes, I’m sure someone at Kingsford is getting patted on the back as some kind of genius.

    I contacted Kingsford to try to get some answers – they replied with a bunch of form-letter type responses someone in marketing obviously created. They didn’t even make sense, like the person responding was trying to find the best match and picked the one they thought fit.

  67. SAHARA, CV

    About Us

    We are an Indonesian company focus in manufacturer and exporter of shell base charcoal from coconut shell and palm kernel. The unique beach side coconut shell produce superior quality raw material for activated carbon, low ash and good ph value.

    Our manufacturer plants located in Indonesia, we provide total solution providing quality, quantity and delivery on time to customer requirement. Product also test SUCOFINDO analytical laboratories in Indonesia.

    The Company also in manufacturing coconut related product such as : coconut fibre, coconut pith ( coco peat ), virgin coconut oil ( VCO) and the briquette from coconut shell /palm kernel sehll charcoal.

    Company Profile
    Company Name: Sahara, CV
    Country/Territory: Indonesia
    Address: Jl. Padang Pasir X No. 7, Padang – Indonesia
    Products/Services We Offer: shell charcoal from coconut shell & palm kernel shell, coconut derivative
    Business Type: Manufacturer
    Industry Focus: Charcoal , Others ,
    Geographic Markets: Western Europe, Middle East
    No. of Employees: 11 – 50 People
    Annual Sales Range (USD): US$2.5 Million – US$5 Million
    Year Established: 1997

  68. I’m glad I found you people; thought for a while I was alone in the anti-New Kingsford world. Has anyone else written to Kingsford yet? They don’t seem to be very sympathetic. I too BBQ year-round, and use briquettes plus wood. Maybe it’ll be just wood for now.

  69. I agree with the negative comments above concerning the “New” charcoal. It may light marginally faster but definitely does not burn longer. Burns hotter and quicker. I’ve worked with marketing people and this whole thing looks like marketing’s justification for a price increase. Sounds like the usual BS to me. Am looking for another source for charcoal until Kingford wakes up.

  70. Wow! John,
    I’ve stored my charcoal the same way for years and have never had any blue-green fuzz. And we certainly do heat AND humidity here in Alabama. And that’s a famous combination for generating blue-green fuzz. My charcoal is stored on an elevated wood deck under an eave of the house (so only indirect rain contacts the bag) and there is generally good ventalation. Does any of that differ from your storage situation? Direct rainfall onto the bag and poor air circulation combined with warm temperatures could be the answer.

    Buy the way, if the fuzzy charcoal burns well and hot, who’s to say that blue-green fuzz is not a good thing.

  71. What’s the best way to store charcoal briquettes? I store them outside next to the bbq. Any container recommendations so they don’t get the blue-green fuzz (looks like moldy bread) that seems to come from moisture? Also, those paper bags they are sold in fall apart after a few weeks outside… even in Southern Calif.

  72. I’m a year-round outdoor cooker. I use wood, lump charcoal, propane, and briquettes – depending on what I’m cooking. Found myself out of briquetts yesterday and went shopping. I’ve used Kingsford exclusively for years. Went to three places and found that ALL the Kingsford bag sizes had changed. Used to get 20lb bags at Lowe’s. Now Lowe’s has 18lb bags with the statement printed thereon, “18lb burns as long as 20lb”. Home Depot once carried two 24lb bags, sometimes at a real good price, now you get two 21.9lb bags and the printing states, “21.9lb burns as long as 24lb”.

    The answer is very simple and two-fold. Kingsford had a good thing and they screwed with it and they screwed it up! Thier goal? Simple, to raise the price! And they don’t have the guts to say so up front! They think we are stupid!

    I bought Royal Oak, it works just fine!

  73. I have to agree–these new briquettes are terrible and I will no longer buy the Kingsford brand. They forgot to tell you that they lit faster and burned out twice as fast. What a disappointment and of course, I had to buy the biggest bag.

  74. Marketing scheme? I bought the OLD Kingsford last year on all the “bbq holidays”…. (some of us grill all year round). It was always on sale for $5 or so a bag. I have yet to see any of the NEW stuff on sale? This NEW stuff does not burn the same. I dont put much bbq sauce on any of the meat I cook, but I certainly need a charcoal that can last long enough to slow cook ribs, pork butt, etc. The NEW Kingsford doesnt do the job.

  75. I’ve been using the new Kingsford briquettes as well. They seem to burn hotter than the old ones. But when i’m smoking meat for four or so hours. I want a longer lasting one

  76. Lump vs. Briquettes in Q.

    They both have their places. I’ve found that in my WSMs that the lump coal makes them burn way too hot.

    As long as you’re putting in the coals all burning (no unlit coals) you should be able to avoid the smells / tate / etc.

    I’ve used the new Kingsford several times in practice, and it seems to be doing OK. I’ll have a much better idea after this weekend – first major NW event of the year.

  77. Saints be praised! I found a crispy new Kingsford brand charcoal chimney at a yard sale last year. 50 cents? Sold! It works about as well as my old one did, but the wooden handle on this Kingsford model is somewhat bigger, sturdier and fits better in my hand. It’s a real class-A charcoal chimney. Good luck with the bbq cook off!

  78. Hi Guys, Just got back from Philadelphia last night. Checking the local weather report- we might get rain this weekend during the BBQn at the Autry competition. Let’s pray for dry weather.

  79. I could be wrong, but it amost appears that those deep grooves decrease the actual physical amount of charcoal in the briquette. Either way, it almost seems pointless. I want charcoal to burn hot and long …. I really don’t care how fast it lights.

    Thanks for the great review.

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