Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Charcoal cookers (such as Weber Kettles)

Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby Bill44 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:52 am



OK I love the taste of food cooked over charcoal direct, and have been using charcoal for indirect in my kettle.
The question is:- Is there any real difference in taste using charcoal vs heat beads when cooking indirect in a Weber Kettle?

The reason I'm asking is that the charcoal seems to be a bit touchy to control at times with the lid on. Logic tells me that with indirect cooking heat is heat where ever it comes from.


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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby Gumb » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:21 pm

Use both and mix them up as required.

Lump charcoal burns hotter, burns quicker, starts easier and smokes a lot more and leaves less ash than heat beads. So if it's smoke you want, use lump.
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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby AzJohnnyC » Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:42 pm

The way I interpret it is, lump charcoal is natural. It is a tough best to tame though. It is my understanding that to form the briquettes, "binders" must be used to form them. It is debated as to whether the binders are natural or chemical. I notice an ammonia odor using Kingsford briquettes. I prefer my bbq primal, and as natural as possible.
Cheers!
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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby Commander Cody » Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:17 am

.
..
can't get more primal than our stick burners 'ey Johnny...... 8) 8)

pity the partying is slowing down, oh well easter is on the way

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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby AzJohnnyC » Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:05 am

Commander Cody wrote:.
..
can't get more primal than our stick burners 'ey Johnny...... 8) 8)

pity the partying is slowing down, oh well easter is on the way

kevin


That's right, Kevin. Wood is king!
Cheers!
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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby urbangriller » Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:15 am

Even indirect, charcoal imparts a flavour that Beads do not, but mix them up if you like, with Beads you can easily control the heat by the amount you use, then have some charcoal for flavour.

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Last edited by urbangriller on Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby Spode » Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:17 pm

Lump is better and natural and what we used as kids. But it's expensive and burns too fast and hot.

Beads are very consistent, and that is why I use them. I don't like the fact they are basically chemicals, but they are consistent. When I load up the WSM with a lot of meat I can't risk it.

If I want flavour, I start with sticks and burn it to coals then cook on it. That gives smoke flavour that even lump doesn't.
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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby shayneh2006 » Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:34 pm

If i am doing a Roast say, using the indirect method, i usually just use beads as they are cheap, easy and reliable.

I am thinking now!,,,,that the next time i do a leg of lamb on the kettle, indirect, full bead fire on one side, i might just try throwing on a couple of fist sized Lump charcoal pieces on top of the beads as i place the meat.

It will be interesting t see what flavour it gives :wink:


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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby BBQ Benny » Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:32 am

Hi - a couple of the chaps here mention you use sticks/wood as well - what type of wood do you use and what gives the best taste in your opinion ?

Thanks.
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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby urbangriller » Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:58 pm

BBQ Benny wrote:Hi - a couple of the chaps here mention you use sticks/wood as well - what type of wood do you use and what gives the best taste in your opinion ?

Thanks.


Don't know about Spode, but for me, that would be Mallee root or (if I can get it) Banksia.

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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby Spode » Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:20 pm

Mallee is good stuff if you can get it! I find any hard Australian wood to be pretty good. I grew up being told to go find sticks, and we cooked on anything that wasn't treated wood, and it was all good!

In fact I've got some gum tree (just whatever teh average is around Brisbane not sure what type) burning now and cooking sausages and sweet corn on the coals!
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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby Amfibius » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:02 am

I have a friend who works for a company that sells starch. He is a food scientist by training. One day we were chatting about heat beads and he told me that he sells starch to the company that makes heat beads. What they are - sawdust and woodpulp carbonized by heating in an oxygen starved environment, then bound together with starch.

As others have said - charcoal burns hotter and leaves less residue than heat beads. However - heat beads are more consistent. Use whatever fuel your cook requires - if you are going to go low and slow, there is no advantage to using charcoal. If you need the high heat, then you probably should go charcoal.
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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby FirePlay » Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:23 pm

Amfibius wrote:I have a friend who works for a company that sells starch. He is a food scientist by training. One day we were chatting about heat beads and he told me that he sells starch to the company that makes heat beads. What they are - sawdust and woodpulp carbonized by heating in an oxygen starved environment, then bound together with starch.


While I believe they do have wood products in them the major ingredient of heat beads is brown coal, carbonised in the manner you describe in multiple stages to get rid of the volatiles...
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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby Conditionally Human » Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:42 am

Meanwhile, charcoal is something you can make yourself.

I'm no expert on the subject, but it's my understanding that charcoal is just hardwood timber that has had nearly all the moister burned out of it. You know, the stuff that's left around after a bushfire.

To make it yourself, you have to be good on identifying timber types. You need a weber or a similar vessel that you can close off (I picked up a weber compact on the side of the road without any components inside, but in good condition and with a good lid), a fire, a carton of beer, a few mates, and you're away.

With practice, you can gauge to a degree how close to charcoal a large chunk of burning hardwood has become by picking it up with fire tools (also, wear proper gloves) and feeling for its weight. When it's light like charcoal should be, I throw it in the weber compact, close the vents to starve it of oxygen, and throw another big bit of wood on the fire.

I use heat beads when I have to, charcoal when I can.
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Re: Lump Charcoal vs Heat Beads.

Postby Doove » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:38 pm

Hi People, for my Weber Kettle I use Heat Beads for indirect roasting & charcoal for direct grilling.
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