BGE Lump Charcoal Burning Out?



New member
Hey guys, this is my first post but I've been lurking on the forums for about a month since I bought a 18.5 WSM. Over that time I've had a few really successful smokes and haven't really run in to any issues...until today. I purchased some BGE organic lump charcoal and decided to try it out on a pork butt today. I've done pork butts before but always with briquettes, and I've never had a problem with holding the temp at 255-ish for around 13 hours, but today with the lump, my fire has completely burned out...twice. It's crazy. It's happened after about 3 or 4 hours each time. I'm lighting with a full basket of charcoal, half a lit chimney, minion method, basically just like I'd do for briquettes. When it goes out, I'm left with several unlit lumps around the edges that I guess never even caught. I relit with an additional chimney of lump, which lasted maybe 3.5 hours, and then relit again with about 25 briquettes which seem to be holding much better. Is this an issue with BGE lump or just lump in general? Is there a better lump brand for long smokes?
I can't say for sure if the brand of lump is an issue because I've never used it, but because you mentioned that you're left with unlit lumps around the edges, I would suggest that packing the charcoal is one of your issues. When using lump, you can't just pour the charcoal into the basket and go. You need to pack the charcoal in a way that gets rid of as much air space as possible. Because Lump is not uniform like briquettes, it tends to leave air gaps in the charcoal. This will help it to burn quicker and not burn completely. I would still think you'd get more than 3.5 hours out of a full ring even if not packed so it may be the charcoal but I'm sure if you did not pack it that is at least part of the problem.
I use lump pretty much exclusively, and Jerry is right. You need to sort of "pack" your fire box so that you have some air passages, but not many and not large.

There's very little difference in American hardwood lump. It is almost all kilned in Southwest Missouri or Northwest Arkansas. I am a big fan of the Big Green Egg, but I would never pay their inflated price for their lump. It is no more "pure" than any other American hardwood lump, it doesn't have any advantage in terms of piece size, and it is just as likely to have foreign objects in it as any other. Yet they charge around double the price of competitive brands.

I also avoid brands that are made from mesquite and tropical hardwoods. It sparks and pops a lot and has an unusual smoke aroma that I don't like. If the bag says "Hecho in Mexico" it goes back on the shelf.

My favorite brand is Ozark Oak. Around here it is very competitively priced, I know the kiln where it is produced, and I don't think I have ever found any foreign objects in a bag (and I've been using that brand for over 10 years). "Best Choice" is the house brand of Associated Wholesale Grocers in Springfield Missouri, and they buy from several different kilns, but all from around here. It is pretty consistent and also competitively priced. Kroger also buys from kilns around here.

Don't give up on lump. Briquettes have some advantages, but I think lump really has a flavor advantage that is worth the extra effort to "build" the firebox.
Yep, pack it and shake the charcoal ring a few times to settle it in. BGE lump is just re-branded RO lump and I use RO and it's okay (nothin special) but usually get at least 8-9 hrs on a full 18.5" WSM ring.
If you want to read more on lump and find something local, check this out.

I just recently fully switched to royal oak lump. Just because it's the easiest and cheapest for me to buy. I pack it in tight and then use a half chimney of kbb lit coals to start it. On my last few 225 degree long cooks I've gone 16 hours and still have leftover coals. Of course I do have the gasket kit and party q which may help total cook time.
Jeff; Ozark oak is now closed, went to their web page today, it said they were closed. There is non in Springfield that I could find.
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I know, Gomer. It's really sad. I have one bag left.

Most of the Royal Oak that we get around here is made in Bradleyville, but not all and there's no way to tell.

I like the "Best Choice" lump, which is also normally packed in Bradleyville, but they've cut their bag size down, which irritates the snot out of me.
I have always been a kingsford original user. I never knew you had to pack the lump in. I am planning on testing out some lump and I am glad to know this important step!
I mix some K competition briquettes in with the lump to fill the gaps. I find it easier than packing the lump pieces. Makes for a very long burn.
I was a fan of Ozark Oak as well - this year, I tried Rockwood lump based on reviews on Naked Whiz. I like it just as much.

The odd thing is that I bought it from Firecraft in MD.
From what I could find is Royal Oak bought out Ozark Oak, like they did my old favorite Fire King.
Rockwood is excellent too, but a few bucks more per 20# bag.
I miss getting lump from the mom and pop producers.
If you pack tour lump too tight it will struggle to burn. Just load it in the basket and shake it a few times. Should be good to go. I've been using lump for 10yrs and have only had it burn out one time because I packed it way too tight. By the way BGE lump is made by RO
Good morning Johnny, I have gotten a mongrel bag here or there at some supermarket that seemed very light and brittle and I've noticed it would burn up in no time at all, so maybe that's what you're describing?
Good luck with you cooks!