Questions & Answers

Find quick answers to your charcoal questions.

How come the charcoal briquet that I am used to looks different? I meant to buy the regular Kingsford® charcoal!

You purchased Kingsford® charcoal with Sure Fire Grooves®. The grooves provide more edges than other briquets for faster lighting, and make the briquets ready faster while providing the same long burn performance you expect from Kingsford® charcoal. You should be able to cook over the coals in about 15 minutes. Sure Fire Grooves® were introduced to all Kingsford® charcoal products and have replaced the Kingsford® charcoal you previously purchased.

How do the Sure Fire Grooves® work?

Kingsford® charcoal's Sure Fire Grooves® give the briquet more edges and surface area to catch the flame more quickly, making briquets ready faster while burning just as long. Additionally, the grooves provide air channels that increase airflow through the pile of briquets, causing the coals to heat up faster than before. You are ready to cook your food in about 15 minutes.

If the charcoal performs better, should I grill with fewer briquets?

The number of briquets you use should be based on the size of your grill, what you are cooking and how you are cooking it. Because everybody's grilling experience is unique, we recommend that you use the same amount as before. The primary difference is that the briquets are ready to cook on faster, which does not influence how many you use.

Has the bag weight changed?

While the weight of each briquet has changed, the current bags are the same size, have the same number of briquets as before and the same number of uses as previous Kingsford® charcoal, but offer a performance improvement at the same great value.

I noticed that the Sure Fire Grooves® briquets do not burn as long.

Be sure to take note that Kingsford® charcoal with Sure Fire Grooves® is ready to cook on in about 15 minutes. This is significantly less time than other charcoal available today. As a result, you will need to put the food on the grill earlier to take advantage of the extended cooking time that Kingsford® charcoal provides.

I noticed that the Sure Fire Grooves® briquets do not burn as long when used for smoking and "low and slow" cooking.

Kingsford® Sure Fire Grooves® briquets will burn longer than our previous briquets, but when "low and slow" barbecuing you will need to adjust your process due to the faster lighting effects of the Sure Fire Grooves® briquets.

While we know it will take some time to find the best combination, we suggest that you take the following steps:

Settle the briquets before lighting, so they pack a little tighter. This should slow down the draft through the briquet pile, thereby slowing the lighting process.

If using a mix of lit and unlit briquets, start with fewer lit briquets to slow the initial rate of burn.

Because the Sure Fire Grooves® briquets get hot quickly, it helps to begin dampening the air vents early on to easily hit the 225-250 degrees target temperature.

When you reach your desired temperature, take advantage of the more efficient Sure Fire Grooves® briquets coals by closing the vents a bit more than you have in the past. By closing the vents further to cook at the desired temperature you will be letting less moisture and flavor escape than before, resulting in even better barbecue.

By experimenting with these changes you can get an even longer burn with Sure Fire Grooves® than you had with our previous product.

Do I use the Sure Fire Grooves® any differently than the previous Kingsford® charcoal?

No. Sure Fire Grooves® briquets light the same way (with lighter fluid or a chimney) the old Kingsford® charcoal briquets did. You still get the same great smoky tasting food and authentic grilling experience you have come to expect from Kingsford® charcoal, but the briquets are ready faster while burning just as long as before.

Do the grooves make the briquet more fragile?

No. The Sure Fire Grooves® briquets have been put through rigorous testing to ensure that they measure up to the same high quality you have come to expect from Kingsford® charcoal.

How does a lighter briquet manage to light faster while at the same time burn longer?

The weight of the briquet is only one aspect of the change. In addition to Sure Fire Grooves®, which make the briquet light and burn more efficiently, leaving more of the briquet to burn while you are cooking, we've made a significant investment in formula enhancements and high quality ingredients that contribute to longer burn time. Keep in mind that briquets with Sure Fire Grooves® do light faster than other charcoal, so to take advantage of the longer burn time you should put your food on sooner. When the briquets are mostly (about 70%) covered in gray ash, that is your cue to start cooking.

Do these coals burn hotter than other Kingsford® charcoal products?

Yes, Kingsford® Competition Briquets do burn hotter than Kingsford® Original charcoal. Grillers should pay special attention to temperature control inside the grill, arranging briquets and adjusting grill vents accordingly. The new briquets provide grillers with maximum versatility in cooking methods - whether grilling, searing or slow cooking.

If Kingsford® Competition Briquets burn hotter, should I grill with fewer briquets?

The number of briquets you use should be based on the size of your grill, what you are cooking and how you are cooking it. Because everybody's grilling experience is unique, we recommend that you control the amount of heat you need by adjusting your grill's air vents. In general, if you want equivalent burn time compared to Kingsford® Original charcoal, use the same number of briquets.

Do I use Kingsford® Competition Briquets any differently than my Kingsford® Original charcoal?

Kingsford® Competition Briquets light the same as Kingsford® Original Briquets (with lighter fluid or a charcoal chimney). The Competition Briquets will be ready to cook on fast, so be ready to place your food on a little earlier than with Kingsford® Original charcoal.

What's the best way to light Kingsford® Competition Briquets?

There are many ways to light briquets. If you prefer to stay with the all-natural lighting method, we recommend using a well-ventilated charcoal chimney. Pour in the charcoal, place a couple of sheets of crumpled newspaper at the bottom and then light the newspaper. Place lit chimney on nonflammable surface. The briquets will be ready to pour out in about 10-15 minutes or shortly after the flame reaches the top of the chimney.

Where can I find Kingsford® Competition Briquets?

Kingsford® Competition Briquets can be found at the following retailers (distribution not guaranteed at all locations):

  • - Costco
  • - Dillons
  • - Dominicks
  • - Food Lion
  • - Fry's
  • - Giant Eagle
  • - Home Depot
  • - King Soopers
  • - Kroger
  • - Lowe's
  • - Lucky
  • - Meijer
  • - Ralphs
  • - Roundy's
  • - Smith's
  • - Stater Bros
  • - Wegmans
  • - Winn Dixie
  • - Kingsford® Competition Briquets may also be found at additional retailers not currently listed.

What meats taste best hickory flavored?

The signature taste of Southern BBQ, Kingsford® Charcoal with real blended hickory is the perfect complement to not only your pork shoulders and ribs, but also to your poultry, beef and game.

I want to add even more flavor in my BBQ, can I supplement this charcoal with something else?

Absolutely! For added traditional hickory smokehouse flavor, soak 2-3 cups of Kingsford® Hickory Wood Chips in water for 30 minutes, drain and spread evenly over ashed-over briquets.

What meats taste best Mesquite flavored?

The rich and earthy flavor of real Mesquite wood with Kingsford® Charcoal is the perfect complement to not only your steaks and chicken, but also to your fish and game.

I want to add even more flavor in my BBQ, can I supplement this charcoal with something else?

Absolutely! For added traditional Mesquite smokehouse flavor, soak 2-3 cups of Kingsford® Mesquite Wood Chips in water for 30 minutes, drain and spread evenly over ashed-over briquets.

How come the charcoal briquet that I am used to looks different? I meant to buy the regular Kingsford® Match Light® briquets!

You purchased Kingsford® Match Light® Sure Fire Grooves® briquets. Sure Fire Grooves® have replaced the Kingsford® charcoal you previously purchased. You still get the same great smoky tasting food and authentic grilling experience you have come to expect from Kingsford® charcoal, but the briquets are ready faster while burning just as long as before.

How do Kingsford® Match Light® Sure Fire Grooves® work?

Kingsford® Match Light® with Sure Fire Grooves® briquets have the right amount of lighter fluid already on the briquet, making for easy lighting. Similarly, the Kingsford® Match Light® with Sure Fire Grooves® will be ready in about 10 minutes.

Where can I find the original briquet without the grooves?

All Kingsford® charcoal is made with Sure Fire Grooves®. We took the best of the previous briquet and made it better (easier lighting, ready to cook on faster and longer burning time).

Has the bag weight has changed?

While the weight of each briquet has changed, the current bags are the same size, have the same number of briquets as before and the same number of uses as previous Kingsford® charcoal, but offer a performance improvement at the same great value.

How is Kingsford® Match Light® charcoal different from the regular Kingsford® charcoal with Sure Fire Grooves®?

Sure Fire Grooves® have been added to all Kingsford® charcoal, including our Kingsford® Match Light® product. For regular Kingsford® charcoal (the blue bag), the grooves make the briquet light quicker, allowing the coals to be ready to cook on faster. You still have to use either lighter fluid or a chimney to get the regular coals started - whereas with Kingsford® Match Light® charcoal, the lighter fluid is already on the briquet, making for easy lighting.

Do the grooves make the briquet fragile?

No. The Sure Fire Grooves® briquets have been put through rigorous testing to ensure that they measure up to the high quality you have come to expect from Kingsford® charcoal.

How do I know when Kingsford® Match Light® briquets are ready to cook on?

Kingsford® Match Light® briquets take about 10 minutes to ash over once lit. When the briquets are mostly covered in gray ash, that is your cue to start cooking.

What is briquet charcoal?

Briquet charcoal refers to charcoal that has been pressed in the familiar round shape of briquets. They are designed to provide consistent grilling experiences.

What is lump charcoal?

Lump charcoal is a general phrase used to describe charred wood fuel that hasn't been pressed into briquets. While the specific production process varies by brand, lump is generally made from tree limbs that are charred in a kiln.

Do briquets generate significantly more ash?

The marketplace is full of claims about ash generation. Briquets do appear to generate more ash than lump charcoal by virtue of how they are made. However, in normal grilling conditions, the amount of ash generated has no bearing on your food as long as you are monitoring the airflow. No matter what the fuel source, it's recommended that ash be removed as part of your standard grill cleaning process.

Is lump charcoal more natural than briquet charcoal?

The exact ingredients vary by brand. However, both briquets and lump charcoal contain all-natural ingredients. Lump charcoal is comprised entirely of charred wood. Briquets are primarily char, but they do contain some other ingredients. These additional ingredients combined with the briquet's shape and how it is produced provide the consistent grilling experience. Some ingredients—coal, limestone and borax—are naturally occurring minerals. Wood char and cornstarch are both natural products.

Beyond the ingredients, the manufacturing process for briquets is more environmentally friendly than most lump processes. Kingsford® Briquets are formed from sawdust and other all-natural hardwood scrap products (e.g. clean, raw wood from furniture and housing) while lump can come from cut-down trees. In addition, briquets are made in energy efficient plants that limit the release of any emissions. Lump, however, tends to be produced through a kiln that releases emissions into the air. In fact, many brands of lump charcoal are made in Mexico using chopped down trees and kilns before being shipped across to the U.S.

Which type of charcoal gives my food more flavor?

Flavor in grilling is a personal choice. Briquets consistently provide the traditional flavor and smell of grilling. For both types of charcoal, grillers can use wood, wood chips or chunks, spices and sauces to enhance the flavor.

I've heard that lump charcoal reaches higher temperatures and can cook for much longer—is this true?

Peak temperatures and maximum grilling time are highly variable and depend more upon the cooking technique, grill used, wind and other weather conditions more than they do the choice of charcoal. Under normal conditions, both briquets and lump charcoal can reach the appropriate temperature and duration to cook all of your grilling favorites.

Are briquets more consistent to cook with than lump?

Yes - by nature of their manufacturing process, briquets are designed for a consistent grilling experience. When first opening a bag of charcoal, you see the uniform briquets. In contrast, with lump there could be pieces of vastly different size and shape. Moreover, the char and other ingredients in briquets are specifically designed to provide the same amount of cooking time at an appropriate temperature in every single bag.

Which charcoal provides greater value?

Value most commonly depends upon pricing and performance. Lump charcoal is sold for a range of different prices which are both above and below the normal price range of briquets. Performance is subjective to consumers, with briquets providing consistency and control, and lump a more variable cooking experience.

What is charcoal's shelf life?

The shelf life of Kingsford® Original charcoal is indefinite so long as the product is stored in a cool, dry place. If the briquets become damp, they will not light efficiently. Kingsford Match Light® and Kingsford Match Light® with Mesquite have a shelf life of 1-2 years if stored properly. If a Kingsford® Match Light® charcoal bag is left open or becomes torn, the solvent will evaporate. This will also prevent the briquets from lighting properly. To extend shelf life, we recommend that you re-close the bag properly after each use.

A bag of briquets was left out in a thunderstorm. Is the product still good?

It is very likely that the briquets won't light after getting wet. Be sure to store your briquets in a cool, dry place.

I've heard of using charcoal to absorb odors. Will your product work for this?

No. Both Kingsford® and Kingsford® Match Light® briquets contain ingredients other than charcoal to make them efficient cooking fuels. Use "activated charcoal" for deodorizing. This can be obtained at plant nurseries and pet stores.

Can you use this product as compost or fertilizer?

No. Both Kingsford® and Kingsford® Match Light® briquets contain ingredients other than charcoal to make them efficient cooking fuels. Charcoal briquets do not aid in the breakdown of organic matter.

How long will the briquets stay hot?

If you'll be cooking for more than 40 minutes, additional briquets must be added to the fire. However, never add Kingsford® Match Light® briquets to an existing fire; add regular Kingsford® briquets in the following manner: Add 10 or 12 briquets to the outer edge of the fire immediately after it has been spread. Once these coals become 80% ashed over, add to the center of the fire as needed to maintain constant cooking temperature.

Can adjusting the vents on my grill make a difference?

Vents on a covered grill are usually left open. This allows oxygen into the grill, increasing the temperature of the coals. Regulate the grill temperature by adjusting the vents. Closing them (either partially or completely) may help to "cool down" a fire that is too hot.

What's the best way to light regular Kingsford® charcoal?

For regular Kingsford® charcoal and regular Kingsford® charcoal with Mesquite or Hickory, add 1.6 fluid ounces of Kingsford® Charcoal Lighter per pound of charcoal used. Never add Kingsford® Charcoal Lighter to hot coals or fire. Once added to your pile of regular Kingsford® briquets, light pile immediately. When the briquets are mostly covered in gray ash, that is your cue to start cooking.

For Kingsford® Match Light® charcoal and Kingsford® Match Light® charcoal with Mesquite, just light the briquets! You don't need to add Kingsford® Charcoal Lighter Fluid to Kingsford® Match Light® products. Just light your pile with a Kingsford® match in several places. It takes about 10 minutes for the briquets to be covered in ash, and that is your cue to begin cooking.

Any tips on how I can get an even more intense mesquite flavor when grilling with mesquite briquets?

If you love that mesquite flavor and want a more intense mesquite grilling experience, simply add more regular Kingsford® with Mesquite briquets to your pile! However, never add Kingsford® Match Light® briquets to an existing fire. Additionally, you can try adding Kingsford® Wood Chips to your grilling routine for that extra touch of flavor.

Can you use Kingsford® Match Light® charcoal in a smoker or a gas grill?

We advise against using Kingsford® Match Light® charcoal in either, for the following reasons:

Smoker grills are used for barbecuing for up to 10 hours. Because briquets need to be added every 45 minutes, applying Kingsford® Match Light® briquets will cause lighter fluid to permeate the meat. Adding to an existing fire may also cause a flareup.

Kingsford® Match Light® briquets shouldn't be used in gas grills because the fire may damage the grill.