Kingsford Brand Charcoal ingredients
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Kingsford Brand Charcoal Briquettes
are the best selling briquettes in the U.S. They are also widely
used by many veteran barbecue experts, including cooks at barbecue
Some claim that Kingsford briquettes have an unpleasant odor,
especially when they are first lit, and many wonder if they contain any
petroleum products. After an investigation, it has been determined
that neither Kingsford Brand nor any other known commercial charcoal
contain any petroleum products.
Kingsford sends a form letter in response to consumers'
questions about the ingredients. According to the form letter sent
in August, 2000, Kingsford contains the following ingredients:
- wood char
- mineral char
- mineral carbon
- sodium nitrate
Purpose of ingredients
There so many ingredients because the addition of each
requires another to offset its negative affect. For example, in
order to make the briquets easier to light, sodium nitrate is
added. But then limestone is added so that, when the briquettes get started, they have the typical light-ash color.
Here are the purposes for each of the ingredients:
- wood char: for heat
- mineral char: also for heat
- mineral carbon: also for heat
- limestone: for the light-ash color
- starch: to bind the other ingredients
- borax: press release
- sodium nitrate: to speed the ignition
- sawdust: to speed the ignition
History of the charcoal briquette
1915, Henry Ford was using large amount of wood to manufacture
operated a sawmill in the forests around Iron Mountain, Michigan to make
the wooden parts, so there were piles of wood scraps. Ford learned of a process,
which had been developed and
patented by Orin F. Stafford, which involved chipping wood into
small pieces, converting them into charcoal, grinding the charcoal into
powder, adding a binder and compressing the mix into the now-familiar,
pillow-shaped briquettes. By 1921, a charcoal-making plant was in full
According to Kingsford:
E. G. Kingsford, a lumberman who owned one of Ford's earliest
automobile sales agencies and was distantly related, briefly served as
manager of the briquette operation. A company town was built nearby and
named Kingsford. In 1951, an investment group bought the plant, renamed
the business the Kingsford Chemical Company, and took over operations.
Its successor, The Kingsford Products Company, was acquired by The
Clorox Company of Oakland, California, in 1973.
Today, KINGSFORD charcoal is manufactured from wood charcoal,
anthracite coal, mineral charcoal, starch, sodium nitrate, limestone,
borax. The wood and other high-carbon materials are heated in special
ovens with little or no air. This process removes water, nitrogen and
other elements, leaving almost pure carbon.
The briquettes do not contain
petroleum or any petroleum by-products. KINGSFORD charcoal briquettes with
mesquite contain the same high-quality ingredients as KINGSFORD, but
with the addition of real mesquite wood throughout.
Manufacturing briquettes begins with preparing the wood charcoal
using one of the following methods:
Retort processing -- Waste wood is processed through a large
furnace with multiple hearths (called a retort) in a
controlled-oxygen atmosphere. The wood is progressively
charred as it drops from one hearth to the next.
Kiln processing -- The waste wood is cut into slabs and stacked in
batches in a kiln that chars the wood in a
Once the wood charcoal is prepared, it is crushed and combined with
the other ingredients, formed into pillow-shaped briquettes and dried. The
advantage of using charcoal over wood is that charcoal burns hotter with
less smoke. [See the discussion of Kingsford described below.]
The Kingsford Products Company website.
Virtual Weber Bulletin Board has a discussion of Kingsford with authoritative
information from the company.