Burning Charcoal That Doesn't Get Hot?! (2007-06-24)

As much as KL likes using Japanese lump charcoal to barbecue for its clean odorless burning, it is ridiculously hard to light.  Last time we did some grilling, it took him nearly THREE hours to get the charcoal to be orange glowish hot enough to be useful!  I'm sure the charcoal wasn't wet or anything, but that was the longest time it ever took to get hot and it is ridiculous.

When we ran out of charcoal we decided to order a new type of briquette from an online store that sells outdoors goods.  This "eco-friendly" (as advertised by the manufacturer) charcoal has a strange shape.  The pieces look like fat stumpy cylinders with a hole through them.

The instruction says to light a match on them for 20 seconds continuously before the charcoal will self-ignite.  Oh crap, we have no matches long enough to burn 20 seconds non-stop, and we don't have one of those long-nosed lighters.  Luckily we still had a tiny amount of lighter gel left so KL squirted a blob on each piece.

KL says when the charcoal caught fire from the gel, it emitted a strong ammonia smell.  I wasn't there so I missed the opportunity to inhale ammonia-fied air.  Then the gel burned out quickly like in a minute (It always does.  That gel is useless) and nothing happened.  The charcoal just sat there and we weren't happy.  What do we do??

Then miracle!  All of a sudden, the charcoal went POOF!  BABAM!  BOOMM!  The pieces ignited themselves and were burning with gusto!  After ten minutes the flames disappeared and the charcoal had a nice orangy glow just like the box says.  BUT...they weren't hot hot

This charcoal never gets real hot!  It generates the kind of heat a low burner would.  We come to realize that this charcoal is perhaps most suitable for slow smoking, not fast grilling  (The piece of steak I cooked on it the first time was disappointingly sizzle-free).  This is some weird charcoal we've bought.

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