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Opening the Bag of Charcoal


Chris Amirault
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So I bring home the bag of charcoal. Thick paper bag with a string sewn into the top to secure it. I'm telling you, I've been stymied for decades trying to figure out how to open the damned thing. I can't do it.

I've seen the trick done. You know, guy grabs some part of the string and pulls -- thpppt -- and the whole bag falls open like a time lapse flower blooming. When I pull the string I give myself a rope burn.

How do you do it? Photos, please, if possible.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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So I bring home the bag of charcoal. Thick paper bag with a string sewn into the top to secure it. I'm telling you, I've been stymied for decades trying to figure out how to open the damned thing. I can't do it.

I've seen the trick done. You know, guy grabs some part of the string and pulls -- thpppt -- and the whole bag falls open like a time lapse flower blooming. When I pull the string I give myself a rope burn.

How do you do it? Photos, please, if possible.

1) Find end of string.

2) Grasp firmly.

3) Give gentle tug (to avoid rope burn).

If nothing happens, 50/50 chance, try other end of string.

Bag still sealed? Proceed to step 4.

4) Find utility scissors and cut just under the string seal.

This procedure is based on years of opening (or trying to) kitty litter, birdseed, and, last but not least, charcoal, though the last Kingsford I bought had an "Easy Tear" paper strip instead of the string, not that it worked all that much better, tore off 1/3 of the way accross, see step 4.

You are not alone. :biggrin:

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I open many 150 lb burlap bags of green coffee beans every week - all bound with string of one sort or another. The ones that are closest in sewing style to bags of charcoal typically have a double loop in the string on one side of the bag and on the other side have a straight single run of thread.

Cut through the double loop on one side about a half inch in from the end of the bag and exactly opposite that on the other side cut through the single thread. Now lift the loose end of the single thread and pull. If you chjose the right end to cut it will magically "unzip" the top of the bag. But you may have to repeat the process at the other end of the bag and pull that single thread from there.

And then I have the bags.... Colombian, Papua New Guinea and a few others that just never open the way they're supposed to....

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So I bring home the bag of charcoal. Thick paper bag with a string sewn into the top to secure it. I'm telling you, I've been stymied for decades trying to figure out how to open the damned thing. I can't do it.

I've seen the trick done. You know, guy grabs some part of the string and pulls -- thpppt -- and the whole bag falls open like a time lapse flower blooming. When I pull the string I give myself a rope burn.

How do you do it? Photos, please, if possible.

1) Find end of string.

2) Grasp firmly.

3) Give gentle tug (to avoid rope burn).

If nothing happens, 50/50 chance, try other end of string.

Bag still sealed? Proceed to step 4.

4) Find utility scissors and cut just under the string seal.

This procedure is based on years of opening (or trying to) kitty litter, birdseed, and, last but not least, charcoal, though the last Kingsford I bought had an "Easy Tear" paper strip instead of the string, not that it worked all that much better, tore off 1/3 of the way accross, see step 4.

You are not alone. :biggrin:

So true and so funny.

After cursing every bag of dogfood I brougth home that was sewn shut with the threads of frustration, I now just grab the scissors and say screw the thread!

Peace at last :raz:

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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[

After cursing every bag of dogfood I brougth home that was sewn shut with the threads of frustration, I now just grab the scissors and say screw the thread!

Peace at last :raz:

Exactly. Then I just keep the bag closed with a chip clip. :biggrin:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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[

After cursing every bag of dogfood I brougth home that was sewn shut with the threads of frustration, I now just grab the scissors and say screw the thread!

Peace at last :raz:

Exactly. Then I just keep the bag closed with a chip clip. :biggrin:

My charcoal never seems to last long enough for me to have to re-seal. :raz: Then again, I use NamChar in the 4kg bags.

A.

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Chris, Don't give up. There is a way to do this without the need for scissors or a knife. I'm sorry I can't remember how to do it, but a long time ago an old farmer showed me how to do it - opening grain bags, which have the same stitch (I think) as a charcoal bag.

He showed me how to look at the thread and where to pull it on one end and one side of the grain bag. It worked every time and I used it for many years when I was still feeding grain. But, that was a long time ago. As I remember, it might involve pulling one thread out of a loop.

Good luck and don't give up.

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Dang, I am never calling ANY of you to come feed the chickens for me while I am out of town!

They would have you pecked to death and eaten before you ever got the laying pellets open. :blink::blink:

And don't think for a minute that they wouldn't. :shock:

Edited by sparrowgrass (log)
sparrowgrass
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Dang, I am never calling ANY of you to come feed the chickens for me while I am out of town!

They would have you pecked to death and eaten before you ever got the laying pellets open. :blink:  :blink:

  And don't think for a minute that they wouldn't. :shock:

So... Which end and which side of the bag do you pull the string on, and how do you recognize it? It's easy, but I can't remember.

Your laying hens would be nothin' to handle compared to some roosters I've dealt with. :raz:

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Trial the first, showing you two attempts on either side:

The ones that are closest in sewing style to bags of charcoal typically have a double loop in the string on one side of the bag

gallery_19804_437_82825.jpg

and on the other side have a straight single run of thread.

gallery_19804_437_198450.jpg

Cut through the double loop on one side about a half inch in from the end of the bag

gallery_19804_437_881.jpg

gallery_19804_437_289081.jpg

and exactly opposite that on the other side cut through the single thread.

gallery_19804_437_403293.jpg

gallery_19804_437_206604.jpg

Now lift the loose end of the single thread and pull.  If you chose the right end to cut it will magically "unzip" the top of the bag.

gallery_19804_437_105371.jpg

Or not.

While I was out there for ten minutes with a pair of scissors, I just finished the job:

gallery_19804_437_307603.jpg

Critiques? Thoughts? Industry secrets?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Going to the Oracle of Cowboy. Sent this to info@cowboycharcoal.com with a link to current topic:

Hello there,

I'm writing in the hopes that you can help me, thousands of members of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, and millions of members of the general public here in these heady days before summer starts.

If you click here, you'll see that a number of us have been grappling with the dilemma that is the string on the bag of charcoal. The detailed directions and step-by-step photos reveal that, while we have much information, our practical expertise is lacking.

What are we to do? Have you access to the secret mechanisms of knot and bag? Please, help!

Sincerely,

Chris Amirault

Director of Operations, eG Forums

eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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The thread used is too thin (i.e. cheap) to sustain the pull against the heaviness of the fabric of the bag, Chris.

Generally the way described above of removing any seam from any fabric works. *Unless* the universe has it planned to make it difficult, as makers of charcoal bags obviously do, for you and for everyone else who is destined to try it.

But it does add to the "He-Man" image of charcoal itself as cooking fuel to see guys grunting and gasping and squeezing up their eyes in exasperation and elbowing those arm muscles around doing their he-man best to get that bag open every time the charcoal grill comes out.

Scissors, my man. Scissors.

They even come attached to Very Manly Swiss Army Knives.

That way you've got it all covered. High-Tech Low-Tech Guy.

They even have pockets in some modern jeans that you can carry your mini Swiss Army Knife around in. :smile:

P.S. "Cowboy Charcoal"? :laugh::laugh:

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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Reply:

Wow! No, I don’t have any advice. I use scissors typically.  We have discussed using an easy tear tab on some of our other products that are manufactured closed on one end. However… you will notice that your bag has a squared bottom bag and then we fill with the charcoal and then sew it closed. Currently our sewing machines cant sew in the “easy tear” manner. Anway… your post has intrigued me and now I want to go see if I can even open a bag! J  Sorry for your trouble!

Caroline

Cowboy Charcoal Co.

What is the world coming to?!?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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What is the world coming to?!?

Very sad indeed. (great email)

I don't use scissors. I use a box cutter (even on the bags with an easy-tear stitch). I think you need to accept the fact that a sharp blade is the way to go.

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Chris

The reason you're not gonna get a -- thpppt-- is evident in your photos. The stitch used on the bags is made using a single thread.

gallery_39290_4300_79.jpg

The dashes on top represent one side, and the loops on the bottom are apparent on the other side. No matter what you do, this thread cannot be pulled out in one piece.

This however, is what you can do to open the bag effortlessly without using any tools.

gallery_39290_4300_10200.jpg

Use both of you thumbs and index fingers to introduce a small tear as close as possible to the top of the bag, then grab the flap (where the stitching starts) and pull up and back. :cool:

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Ha! I just went out, camera in hand, to my new bag of charcoal so I could photograph that string and the pulling of it. Then I learned that it has a glued tab. No string, anywhere!

So where did I get that little frisson of string pulling lately? Cat litter bag? Sunflower seed bulk bag? Hmm.

ChefCrash, that is a great drawing. The funny thing is, now I can't figure out how the quick-pull strings must be threaded.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

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Good grief, doesn't anybody here crochet? The stitching on the bag is a simple chain stitch; find the leading edn and unravel it backwards, pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbt! Sheesh! :biggrin:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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