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Dave the Cook

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  1. ". . . not to belabor the point. . . " is usually a warning from someone who is about to belabor the point, just like "I don't mean to offend you, but . . ." precedes some sort of personal offense, in both cases as if the precedential phrase excuses the insult of what follows. It doesn't. It is true that steam, as technically defined, is not visible. But what most people think of as steam (which is, okay, really water vapor), is. And in any case, what's the point? Whether I've got a cup of ashes (about 1/3 pound) to clean up, or a quart (about 1-1/4 pounds), it's still a chore. The quantity (not to mention whether or not its production is preceded by steam or water vapor) doesn't really affect that fact.
  2. Dave the Cook

    Jiffy love

    This might also have had something to do with it (emphasis mine): No criticism intended! Maybe we all just need to read more carefully?
  3. Okay, I'll backpedal a little and admit to a bit of limestone (toxic only at very high levels), and (possibly) a tiny bit of boric acid.
  4. No, borax is not flammable, but there's little of it in briquettes to start with, and even less by the time it's packaged for sale, because it's only used to promote release of the briquette from its mold. But I agree with this: And this is worth thinking about: Two charcoal configurations come immediately to mind. They require the user to rely on a significant quantity of unlit charcoal to keep a fire going for a long time: the Snake (there are a few variations of this) and the Minion Method. Now, the way you know that briquettes are ready for cooking is that 1) they've developed a coating of ash, and 2) the smoke they emit is colorless or very light blue. So how do these methods work, if the charcoal is bypassing at least the first of these conditions? One theory is that proximity to already lit charcoal dehydrates and pre-heats the unlit coals. Regardless, the success of these methods demonstrates that it is possible to add unlit charcoal to an already burning fire without screwing up your cook. (Of course, if you have sufficient experience, you can always light additional briquettes away from your fire and add them after they've developed the ash coating.) I'm not sure what to make of the Myhrvold claim, because he's an award-winning BBQ cook, because he's right so often, and because he seems immune to received wisdom. It's true that controlling air flow is a key to maintaining temperature control, and it seems so obvious that lump contains more air that perhaps he didn't see a need to test it. It's hard for me to imagine, however, that the difference in the amount of air in the fuel matters more than the amount of air surrounding the fuel, which is bound to be much greater in volume.
  5. Thanks for bringing up TM-30, which I wasn't aware of.
  6. You can use any type of coal to make briquettes. I was speaking of Kingsford, as I said. They cite a range for anthracite usage from 15% to 40%. The percentage probably varies depending on factors like the quality of the basic char. "Cleaner" is a comparative word, and I not sure what you're comparing it to. I was comparing it to other types of coal, and its cleanliness relative to bituminous, subbituminous and lignite coal is provably true, despite your unfortunate experience. Anyway, assuming the 883,748 tons number is correct (the number probably came from the National Barbecue & Grilling Association), that is a lot of coal (354,000 tons at the 40% rate; 133,000 at 15%), until you compare it with total anthracite production, which in the US was 2.6 million tons in 2019. But all of this is leading us further away from the topic at hand. I use briquettes. The study @rotuts referenced, as un-nuanced as it might be, convinces me to continue using them.
  7. Thanks for sending me down that rabbit hole! 😉 Without getting into a lot of arithmetic and numbers related to coal production and the uses of different types of coal, I have come to the conclusion that yes, charcoal briquettes contain trace amount of some heavy metals, and that lump charcoal probably doesn't (it has to do with how coal is created). I have also come to the conclusion that I'm not bothered by it very much, given that the tiny bits of heavy metals in the ash left behind in my grill are dwarfed by the 30,000+ tons of heavy metals left behind by power plants (and that's just in the US). As far as I can ascertain, anthracite is the only type of coal used in making briquettes. It's 80 - 95% carbon, and at most it makes up 40% of briquette composition (if we accept Kingsford as typical). Lignite and bituminous coal, both of which have much higher percentages of heavy metals in their residues than anthracite, are what most power plants (in the US and elsewhere) burn for energy. It seems that if you're going to burn coal, anthracite is the one you want. It's cleaner to start with, and burns cleaner (and hotter) to boot. It seems that its main drawback is its relative scarcity, and therefore its relatively high price.
  8. "lump burns hotter than briquettes" This sort of received wisdom drives me crazy. Almost everyone says it, but no one cites research to back it up. Even the well-regarded Naked Whiz only rates charcoal heat by stars. ("I buy X Brand lump charcoal because it get four-stars hot"?)The only study I've seen is the one conducted by Cook's Illustrated that @rotuts cites above, and it says that briquettes and lump burn at about the same temperature for a while and after that, briquettes burn longer. On top of that, why does it matter which one burns hotter? You need a really hot (say, >750°F) fire when you're cooking really thin things for a short period of time. Either fuel will get you there, with enough air. But an awful lot of barbecuing isn't about high temperature, it's about controlling temperature. Here, where consistency counts, briquettes rule. Besides, wood char (which defines lump charcoal), mineral char, mineral carbon -- it's all just plain carbon, regardless of the original source. Unless the fuel contains incompletely carbonized material (as large chunks of lump charcoal often does, then the uncarbonized wood will impart some flavor), it's all going to create tasteless smoke. Creating tasteless smoke is the job of charcoal, which is why you let a fire burn until it's giving off pale blue or colorless smoke. Colorless smoke means fewer and smaller particles = less flavor. If you want flavor, add raw wood. That way, you can control how much flavor you impart to the food. As Meathead Goldwyn says, "Charcoal is for heat; wood is for flavor." As for additives and such, charcoal briquettes are no more processed than bread, wine or sausage (to name only three examples), and we know exactly what's in briquettes. If you manufacture. import or distribute hazardous materials, by law you must provide information about that product in the form of a Safety Data Sheet (SDS). One of the things you must include on this SDS is a list of ingredients. For Kingsford Briquettes, that list is charcoal, ashes, anthracite coal, cornstarch, limestone, sawdust and boric acid. The first thing to know about all of these ingredients is that they all occur in nature. Second, no petroleum by-products or other waste products. A maximum of 23% of the ingredients are not carbon. In particular, boric acid amounts to 1% or less (it's used to make it easier to remove briquettes from molds). I don't think anyone on these forums needs to be reminded that it's the dose that makes the poison.
  9. These terms don't refer to restaurant service, they refer to banquet service. In another life, I was "attached" to a hotel catering operation, and I recall these terms being used as shorthand when figuring out what sort of temporary help would be needed to handle a specific catered function. The terms "American" and "English" aren't accurate, nor, I suspect, intended to be, any more than "wave service" has to do with water or greetings. But they're useful if you're trying to describe a certain service style to a group of people who are familiar with the language. Ah, jargon. The only time I experienced this type of service was at an in-house (as in they had their own food service operation) function at a company in Sweden.
  10. This is pretty consistent with what other scientifically oriented BBQ folk say. Meathead Goldwyn even refers to the CI study. There's a lot of tradition among aficionados in any pursuit, and barbecuing, grilling and smoking aren't immune to it. Add in selection bias and you've got (a) myth(s) that die(s) hard. But there's a reason professional/competition crews opt for briquettes or pellets. It's all about predictability and control. I think the rap on briquettes (fillers, etc.) applies to off-brand charcoal. You probably shouldn't be buying Rando Briquettes; stick with major brands like Royal Oak, Kingsford (originally an outgrowth of Henry Ford's plan for total vertical integration), etc., and you'll be fine.
  11. We're locking this topic, as it doesn't comply with our Decorum and Topicality guideline, to wit: "Posts on a given topic must pertain to that topic." By our count, only 4 out of 23 posts on this topic were actually on topic -- not a great percentage. It would be helpful for all of us to keep this guideline in our heads. Also, bear in mind a sentence we find ourselves often repeating: "Tone is difficult to convey over the internet." Thanks.
  12. Did no one else reading that story follow up on the trove of bad ideas listed? Fellow eGers, I give you: the Velveeta Martini, Mayo-nog, Oreo wine, Curly-fry vodka, and last, but not least, mustard Skittles.
  13. Effective immediately we are introducing a new moderation tool, the 24-hour suspension. This replaces the Topic Watch function, which we lost a few upgrades ago. We will be using it to halt interactions that tend to escalate quickly. A suspension of this type will not be preceded by a warning or an attempt by staff to get a topic back on track: instead, a member will receive a notice that their account has been suspended for a period of 24 hours. This will be most likely to happen when the member posts a disrespectful personal challenge, personal insult, or deliberate distortion or ridicule of another member's post. It applies everywhere in eGForums. eGForums is noted for its civility, and we believe there's no excuse to be rude or insulting. This behavior will result in a 24-hour suspension. Please continue to use the report function to report potential issues, rather than escalating an engagement.
  14. 22 and still going strong -- but not so strong that we'd decline a contribution or two! Click here for your giving pleasure!
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