Grill Review – Kingsford 20″ Portable Charcoal

I bought this grill about 3 years ago in Florida:

Kingsford 20 inch charcoal grill

Kingsford 20 inch charcoal grill

It has a price sticker on it of $49.98 but I was buying it end of “season’ (do they really have Seasons in Florida?) on sale at Walmart. The link above says $39.95 and I think that’s about what I paid for it. $10 off comes to mind.

So I’d intended to assemble it and use if for grilling in the “Vacation Cottage” (i.e. immobile mobile home they rent out fully equipped and furnished at the RV Resort) But before I got it assembled, I ran into a propane portable grill being abandoned by someone else.

Sidebar on RV Resort “Stuff”: As there are lots of itinerant folks in RV resorts, they often buy stuff to use just a while, then don’t bother to take it with them. It was a couple of months before I figured this out. It seems it is a normal cultural part of the process to set “good stuff” where it can be found and reused. Eventually, when I left, I even put a dinky / miniature electric frying pan I’d bought “almost new” in box in the club house pick pile. Seems a 8 inch pan wasn’t quite what I wanted and the heat distribution wasn’t ideal – so someone else got it for free (gone in about an hour ;-) Similarly books to the clubhouse library. Various dishes and gadgets and the “castoff” from an upgraded TV. All sorts of stuff.

So I had this portable propane grill that was fine other than that the folks didn’t know how to tighten the screws holding the handle to the lid. 2 new screws later, working grill. Well, I used that one as it was already assembled. After about a year, it was time to pack up and go home. I’d never assembled this charcoal one, so it, new in box, went into the car. The propane one, now with working handle but also with a season of use, went to the “Free Stuff” pile (again…) Why drag home a dirty / greasy grill if you can transport New In Box?

SO OK, I get home, and I’ve got my OLD portable charcoal tin pot grill ( the $20 “special” kind… of rectangular tub & lid with wire grate & grill) along with the big Webber propane one I “inherited” when the kids moved out. So this box went in the corner of the office for a couple of years.

Today, finally, the weather was good for a BBQ. Turns out the old tin pot BBQ had pretty much rusted out since last use, so it hit the recycle bin. My POB BBQ in the back patio area had nesting doves under the awnings about 4 feet away. Not wanting to smoke them out, and not wanting to move my Pile Of Bricks, and the big Webber being out of propane… I decided to assemble this one. (Kingsford Model No. CBT1340WB)

This is NOT a Deluxe Grill

Now remember to bear in mind the market segment this is aimed at. Portable, cheap, not an investment. I read a review on Amazon (the review is up but the product is no longer listed) that basically panned it for having cheap thin sheet metal and not being air tight when closed. What the? This is NOT your $300 Webber by the pool! Folks popping $40 for a grill are likely thinking at most one season, and likely just one trip.

So yeah, it will likely rust out by the end of next year if I leave it out doors in the rain. No, it will not let you rust off 1/8 inch of steel and repaint it. It also doesn’t weigh 200 lbs and need wheels…

What caught my eye

It has a minature 3 inch “smokestack’ with vents in the top, and a vent slider below the coals in the back. There is SOME ability to control burn rate and do more smoke less fire when grease starts to drip.

It has a relatively large charcoal area ( 20 inches long and about 16? deep) so I can actually use some of the larger pieces of manzanita P.G. gave me without the need to cut / break them. (I’ve pretty much used up the little bits in my POB BBQ ;-) This also means I can lay out coals on 1/2 of the bottom, have more than enough area to grill for 2, and my choice of direct or indirect heat.

It has an ash drawer, so I don’t need to pick the whole thing up to shake out the ashes.


It has a lot of screws. All the fasteners, washers, a screwdriver, and a “wrench” (sheet metal) come on a single card with plastic over wrap and nicely labeled.

There’s about 80 of these hardware bits. Not as bad as it sounds, as often it is a stack of “screw, washer, lock washer, nut” at a location, so more like 20 locations. But that is still a lot of small assembly. I really think some clever use of interlocked stampings, or just a more complicated bottom stamping, could reduce the number of fasteners. But hey, it works.

It claims 30 minutes to assemble. I took 1.5 hours. I was NOT rushing. I did have the screwdriver break off one of the philips point ‘wing’s about 1/2 way through, and so swapped to my own. It is a one use design screwdriver and does not take high torque well… The “wrench” is sheet metal. It works, barely. I’d be glad to have the tools included were I in a trailer at the beach. I used my socket wrench and real screwdriver instead.

Assembly is mostly just matching up the right screws and putting them into the right sheet metal. I did manage to confuse the M and N lock washers. I used my needle nose pliers to open the just slightly too small washers to put on the end (lifting) handles. Later to find I had some slightly too large washers for the other handles and the “smokestack”. Note to self: Find glasses… The items are in alphabetical order in the instructions, but not on the card, so you get to hunt around to find where C and L and I and M and N are on the card.

I also started to install one latch upside down. It did not have any orientation limits. I got it caught in time though. (Latches go ‘flat side up’ on the bottom, 3rd screw hole down, but there is no place behind it for the third screw, nor is there a 3rd screw – I suspect they ‘simplified’ and removed one pressed in nut, but made ambiguity).

Eventually it all went together.

First Fire

First thing you do is load some charcoal and get it blazing, then with vents open close the lid and let it cook for 15 minutes. This drives the volatiles and oils out of all the paint and manufactured bits. After that, it’s good to go.

I loaded up about 2/3 of the bottom with self light charcoal and 3 manzanita sticks. When the “burn off” was done, added 6 pieces of chicken and proceeded to grill.

As this is a small grill, it will have the handles get hot if they are over the fire. So open the lid, your hand and the handle is passing about 16 to 20 inches above the grilling surface and it will be warm / hot. (The directions say to use gloves, I didn’t, but did use the spatula to do some of the lift / close – more out of general habit than anything else; I’ve grilled before ;-)

It has what it calls a ‘warming shelf’ that is a raised rear section of grill. About 6 inches wide x 20 inch length. Used for the typical “bun warmer or this piece is cooking too fast get it off the flaming bit and further from the coals”. I like having 2 levels of grill height in a cheapo tin grill!

The box is not air tight. (Well, duh…). So closing the lid, it does leak smoke from the join of lid to bottom pan. I had “enough” control with the air damper and smokestack damper to be able to get smokey brown chicken not flame licked black. When in doubt, put the coals at the non smokestack end and the grilling meat at the other for indirect heat. I had a pile in the middle, with fade out toward the ends with a 3 to 4 inch ‘no coals’ at the ends. It’s a personal style thing ;-) So with a bit of positioning and moving I was able to make very nice chicken with good flavor and cook the thin section of the thighs properly while the bone / thick part was also done right. ( I always cut the thigh near the bone to make a thin and thick part and where the bone is near a cut edge so cooks too. I guess that means I had 6 thighs but 12 pieces 8-)

As the coals were running down (even with the 15 minute pre-burn) the chicken was nicely done. No need to add more. Closing the dampers and the lid, there was still some smoke ‘leaking out’. I suspect that’s not enough air exclusion to prevent a slow smolder finishing the coals. I decided to ‘mist’ the coals to ‘shut it off’ as I was going into the house to eat… and had a nice bit of manzanita sill unburned in there ;-) Some other time I’ll see if you can stop the coals by just closing dampers and walking away.

In Conclusion

For a $40 to $50 grill, I’m happy with it. No, I’d not plan on tossing it in the back of the pickup and driving over 100 miles of mountain roads to your fishing spot. It is not intended for rugged use. No, I’d not plan on it being around and serviceable in 5 years. Maybe not even 3. (Depends on my ambition moving it to the garage or not ;-)

I would be quite happy to buy another one, were I again in a vacation spot and needing a grill. At that price, I could use it for a week or a whole summer, place it on the “reuse free stuff” table, and be happy.

For right now, it’s on my Redwood Log Picknick Table in the front patio “play yard” (Named for the enclosed area I made for our children to play, 30 years ago… I also built a redwood swing set then, and more, now long gone…) I’m happy to do my grilling this summer out there, and leave the doves in peace to nest over the back patio. This is “lug-able” enough that should I wish to move it to the proper BBQ area on the back patio once nesting season is over, it’s an easy move.

Overall, it is like a caricature of a Real Grill. It has all the right parts. Dampers. Warming shelf. Smoke stack. Ash bin. Yet it’s dinky and portable. Yes, it’s a bit hotter on the hands when everything is 16 inches max from the coals. I’m OK with that. Heck, I might even bother to get some grilling mittens. But I didn’t need them.

Most importantly for me, I was able to do proper indirect grilling AND get that nice smoke patina on the chicken without really trying too hard. At first, some of the skin dripped chicken fat onto coals enough to flame up, and I had the lid open enough “inspecting” to let it flame. As I got used to it, closed the dampers a bit, and left the lid down; I got less ‘flame charred” edges and more of the desired “smoked and browned”. I know now to start with less direct ‘chicken over hot coals’ and more “indirect heat”. That I can do things like indirect heat, smoke control, and warming shelf, all in a cheap portable grill, that’s wonderful.

At last, gone is the frustration of muttering about wanting indirect heat on a 19 inch by 9 inch grill with a propane fire running down the middle. Gone is the “I’d like to set THIS piece somewhere cooler, but where?” Gone is the “Damn, now if I could just get the lid at the right angle to control the air” and instead I have real dampers to set.

In short: Yes, it’s a cheap BBQ, but it does all the things I want in a package that is just the right size for what I want to do. Mostly that’s cook for 2, but this would also let you cook for 4 easily, and 6 to 8 if some of them are kids wanting things like hot dogs and hamburgers instead of steaks. It claims a 14 hamburger area. I’d not want to try more than a dozen on it ( I think it would be too hard to keep them turned right and not burn one in a hot spot). Then again, if you ARE cooking a dozen burgers and a little portable is all you have, this is a LOT better than the 14 inch kettles and the 19 x 12 inch propane things.

So I’m happy with it. Not as minimal as the absolute cheap seats. Not as robust as the $100 / 50 lb jobs. But in “my niche” when at home and wanting charcoal grilled, or when in a ‘Vacation Cottage’ off somewhere for a few weeks (or months). I’d not use it for “on the road in the Subaru” – too big for that. For that I’d use a set of grill wire and the “3 rocks / found wood or charcoal” method, or just stop at rest areas with a BBQ built in. I could see loading it up for a fishing trip to ‘near by’ where it’s just me or 2 of us and lots of extra room – not needing to pack for a week. The top does latch, it isn’t that heavy, and it is portable. But it ain’t small… and that’s part of what I like about it. Room to grill, smoke, and indirect cook.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, Food and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Grill Review – Kingsford 20″ Portable Charcoal

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    Guess I didn’t mist it very well… but I do have an answer on the closed burn.

    Returning later, the briquettes remains had all turned to dust. So it continues a slow burn when fully closed via air leakage at the seams… For a portable that is likely a feature. Most folks wanting to dump ashes before loading up, not preserve hot dirty coals to cart home for next weekend…

    So plan that all fuel loaded gets burned, or have a distinct snuffer container and move coals with tongs. As dinner was done about when the coals were running down, I’m going with the let it burn out method for now.

  2. H.R. says:

    @E.M.: Is manzanita wood aromatic? I wasn’t familiar with it and looked it up. It’s outstanding for fires, but the article didn’t mention aroma.

    Thanks to RV parks, I own a $14 round charcoal grill and a $20 rectangular propane grill. At the Hilton Head Island RV resort, they didn’t allow fire rings, so I bought the charcoal grill for steaks, hamburgers, and one of my all-time favorite meals, Chili cheese dogs with onions made with Nathan’s bun-length beef hot dogs.

    Then we went to Florida and the RV park only allowed propane grills due to the fire hazard during the Florida dry season. Another trip to Walmart and I was the proud owner of a second cheapie grill for steaks, hamburgers, and hot dogs. There’s no way either of those grills would cook chicken without turning it into the Phoenix, and I don’t think that Phoenix would ever arise from the ashes.

    I had planned to leave both grills, but since I had lots of room in the pickup, both grills came home with us and are now in the garage.

    That was a good walk-through of your experience because the assembly experience is much the same for all grills. Yes, real tools make it much easier, and yes, I had the same problem with a few screws and lock washers that were 1mm diameter difference. You definitely captured the assembly experience except you forgot to mention dropping – several times – some of the #@%!-tiny screws while trying align holes and start the nuts. I recommend assembly on a clean concrete pad so it’s easy to find the #@%! microscopic hardware that gets dropped.

    At $40 bucks, that is one fine, inexpensive grill, E.M..

    Oh, per tools: I pack pretty much a complete set of tools with the travel trailer so I can fix anything on the truck or trailer; 10-12-14″ channel-locks, 6-8-10-12-18″ adjustable wrenches, 1/4″ and 3/8″ socket sets (separate sets, so there are duplicate sockets), 22-piece wrench set in metric and SAE, 1-7/8″ wrench for the hitch ball, 2 6-way screwdrivers, multi-meter, hatchet, folding pruning saw, claw hammer, small and large ball peen hammers, 18v drill with 2 batteries, etc., etc., etc. Y’all get the picture.

    Anyhow, that discussion of weapons-at-hand that don’t look like weapons was quite useful. I hadn’t mentally prepared before to consider the weapons I had at hand, but I have an arsenal within reach now and can choose the best ‘tool’ for the situation in a split second (death or discouragement?) rather than thinking ‘now what am I going to do?’

    So… if a Mongol Horde ever invades the RV park where we’re staying, I’ll be one of the last to go down.๐Ÿ˜œ

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    P.G. turned me on to the tasty quality of manzanita. I knew it from the distinct aroma of forest fires “out west” but had not made the leap to BBQ. All the more surprising as the P.G. prod knocked loose an old memory of a forest fire fighter saying he liked cooking his diner over manzanita when the fire went through some… but I was 18 at the time and dog tired from working a fire line and BBQ was the last thing I wanted to hear about… (Now ice water 9-)…

    The nice thing about the dinky cheap ones is that you can accumulate them (or lose them) without pain. FWIW, I regularly made chicken in the small propane grill. Just run the flame very low and set a cookie sheet under it (to collect the rendered fat that drips out…) That’s THE big feature of the propane grills. IMHO, that you have fine, and low,temperature control. The one I had used cinder gravel in a bed to even the heat… yeah, a deluxe model ;-)

    For chicken on small charcoal grills: load less charcoal. put it all on one side, put chicken on the other half. The trick is to avoid having all the chicken fat / drippings become fuel in a big bonfire…

    Yes, despite best efforts, a dozen drops onto the dog grooming table (just the right height for assembly work). At the end, only one washer missing. They were thin and prone to sticking, so I think some screw got 2. None on table or floor. or in pant cuff…

    I usually travel with a big tool box and a “car kit” of things like jumper cables, spare tune up parts & filters, starter fluid, brake fluid, lubricants,..the last brake pads removed – useful if a pad gets totally toasted and you have 4000 ft of vertical drop to the parts store.. My used pads always have some “meat” left…

    Yeah, I’m thinking a nice BIG crescent wrench is innocuous and effective for Wa-konk-do 8-)

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    In Japanese martial arts, “do” is “way of” of “path of”. So Ai-Kee-Do is “the way of” unifiying (ai) with the energy in life (ki).

    So Wakonkdo is the “way of” a shouting ( Wa!) or surprise (Wa?) konk on the noggin ;-)

  5. Steven Fraser says:

    @EM: Re: the recycling of good ‘stuff’. I have experienced this in a suburban community as well. in my former hometown, metro Dallas area, if you had something to get rid of in this manner, you were to put it at the curb. Rule was; anything at the curb was fair game for pick-up by whomever found (and wanted) it first. I used this system to recycle a small stereo cabinet, a disassembled office corner-desk, and an elliptical trainer.

    Re: Wakonkdo: I think the greatest tool is the ‘attitude torque wrench’ in this context, ‘torqueing’ on the other person’s motivation to dissuade from further action. An actual torque wrench is plenty long, and hefty, and would combine nicely with a 1-1/2″ crescent or large pipe wrench in the other hand. In northern climes, a hockey stick works, too, for outdoor use,

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    Hunting Tools LoL
    Once in desperation I went hunting with a 12 inch Crescent wrench. Got 2 nearly grown Sage Hens for dinner delicious! A few days later I got an adult,….. should have eaten my boot! ;-( …pg

  7. p.g.sharrow says:

    Add to the Manzanita lore,
    A number of years ago a local winery had a few barrels of young Chardonnay they wanted to dump because of lack of long term storage so I got it and distilled it for 140 proof brandy base. I put 7 gallons into one of my small ageing tanks with Manzanita Charcoal for a year then bottled it at 80 proof. Now, 15 years later that is mighty fine liqueur, but only 3 bottles left. ;-( wish I had made and kept more…pg

  8. Larry Ledwick says:

    The same ethic of property recycling exists in college towns and apartment complexes.
    In the college town, the front curb method is used, preferably near a driveway so the browsers can easily park to check out the goodies. At the apartment complex the item is placed in plain view near the trash dumpster. In both cases the item if good disappears in a matter of hours.

    Evictions at an apartment complex requires stuff be stacked on the curb for 24 hours so the tenant who was evicted can reclaim their stuff. It seldom lasts that long unless someone watches it.

    There are a very small group of folks that make use of the eviction process to get free moving help. They wait until the local police and the apartment staff stacks everything on the curb, then post someone to watch it until they can get a U-haul trailer and then quickly load it all from the curb into the trailer. Not sure if these folks are friends of the tenants who got evicted or just organized vultures to grab an entire household of furniture to resell at a flea market in one quick move.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Yeah, I looked at that one in Walmart the other day. The problem I saw with it is the lack of air vents / control.

    The Webber equivalant is 2 x the price at $28, but has both lid and bottom bowl vents with rotating control.

    IMHO, you MUST have the ability to control how much heat is produced to properly BBQ. Chicken takes much less heat than steak, for example (not least because it keeps a steady stream of flammable chicken fat feeding the fire…) Now I don’t really care if that comes as a variable height grill surface, air dampers, propane valve, whatever… but without some kind of heat control, you end up with burned chicken and / or slow cooked dry pork chops…

    So while the $14 did catch my eye, I vowed that were I to “go there” to the mini-kettle land, I’d get the Webber with the air dampers…

  10. H.R. says:

    @ossqss: That’s exactly the grill I bought in SC. Mine came with the red dome. It works just fine for burgers, brats, hotdogs, and steaks. E.M. had some tips for chicken.

    @E.M. & p.g.: In the late ’70s, my wife went to Arizona to visit a High School friend and brought back… Ta-Da! A shopping bag of mesquite wood. This was a few years before it caught on in the mainstream, so my charcoal grilling was quite the hit until I ran out of mesquite.

    I suspected manzanita added a nice flavor but E.M. hadn’t mentioned it in his main post. I’m guessing I can find a small bundle online to try out. No one has ever mentioned it hereabouts, so I have the chance to once again be on the culinary leading edge in my neck of the woods.

    @E.M.: The one bit of chicken I do that actually requires high heat is boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I take the breasts and inject them with a goodly amount of Goya Mojo Criollo marinade. Then I nuke them on the grill until they are just done in the center. The reason for the high heat is that quickly seals the chicken and there isn’t enough time for the juice to cook out before the chicken is done. It’s kind of like steaming the chicken from the inside out. Yummy, tender, and juicy!

    For parties, I brown up chorizo into crumbles and drain it. Then I cube up that chicken breast and combine the chorizo and chicken in a crock-pot set on Keep Warm, and add a bit of the marinade to that to keep it all from drying out. Tortillas, guacamole, chopped onions, sauces, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced black olives, and anything else someone would like to toss in to ‘build-your-own’ goes on the side.

    It’s a good dish for a grazing party where people will return to a food table several times over the course of 2-4 hours. It holds temperature in the crock-pot and is ‘safe’ to keep out on a table. The add-ons are the only thing that need re-supplied once or twice.

  11. p.g.sharrow says:

    @HR; if you need to, go to my blog and we can setup connection. I’ll send you a box full for the shipping cost. I have lots in my wood pile…pg

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    You can grill / smoke on the kettles that have no air control, but you do heat control in a more complicated way. Charcoal on one 1/2 of the grill, meat moved to zones of hotter / colder as needed. Put the lid on tight to snuff (IF if fits that tight) or with varying degrees of ‘not quite centered’ to set up some limited air flow.

    I learned to do that with an old square box charcoal grill, the sort of boot box sized ones. It was just a box of charcoal on a grate, and a grill, and a lid. Setting the lid more, or less, akimbo gave more or less air flow and hotter / cooler cooking.

    It can be done, but I’d rather have the air controls… Unless I didn’t have the extra $14 to spare… Or maybe if it was a “one weekend only” deal… $7 / meal is a lot to spend for not setting the lid on crooked ;-)

    That chorizo / chicken dish sounds like a real keeper! I’m very fond of “roll your own” burritos and tacos and …

    FWIW, manzanita is a bit of a regional thing.

    Manzanita is a common name for many species of the genus Arctostaphylos. They are evergreen shrubs or small trees present in the chaparral biome of western North America, where they occur from Southern British Columbia and Washington to Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in the United States, and throughout Mexico. Manzanitas can live in places with poor soil and little water. They are characterized by smooth orange or red bark and stiff, twisting branches. There are 105 species and subspecies of manzanita, 95 of which are found in the Mediterranean climate and colder mountainous regions of California, ranging from ground-hugging coastal and mountain species to small trees up to 20 feet (6m) tall. Manzanitas bloom in the winter to early spring and carry berries in spring and summer. The berries and flowers of most species are edible.

    We called it “deer brush” when I was a kid. It’s pretty much everywhere in the Sierra Nevada and Coast Range (and Cascades and…)

    I forget where you are, but if you are east of the Rockies / Texas, this is not going to be easy to find. If you are west of the Rockies, well, take a hatchet on a hike…

    It does like the drier poorer places (mostly as the trees don’t compete as well). It’s darned hard, so don’t expect to snap off a 3 inch branch… or even a 2 inch some times…

    These folks claim to sell it. But that’s either to people who can go pick it up in their back yard, or have to ship it a long ways… Clearly I don’t understand the wood sales market ;-)

    I’m happy with the pile P.G. gave me ;-) Whenever I run out, I expect a quick trip to the boonies will replace it. (Power tools are your friend with this stuff… I remember taking an axe to a big one when working a fire line and it just laughing at me… tiny little chip out and me thinking “this will take hours”… )

  13. H.R. says:

    @p.g.: That’s a generous offer. I’m not sure yet if I need to take you up on that as I found a site that offers manzanita and madrone wood specifically cut for grilling. They have some other woods as well.

    Have you heard of and used madrone wood? They describe it as similar to mesquite, but better. I haven’t heard back on their prices yet, so I don’t know if they are reasonable or price gougers.

    (Man… it’s been a l-o-o-o-n-g time since I visited your blogm maybe 2012? I make it a point to visit commenters’ blogs if they’ve made interesting comments on a blog I follow. I rarely leave a comment myself.)

  14. p.g.sharrow says:

    Mamzanita wood is very dense, like black locust or ironwood. Dry, you can’t drive a nail in it, brittle and checks a lot as it drys. The wood burns HOT and clean, with a good draft it will melt iron! It contains a lot of sugars so will bring a sweet smoky taste to cooking/smoking food. The Manzanita here grows fast, up to 20 feet and as big around as my arm.
    Not sure about Madrone as a smoking wood but it is softer and easier to work with and grows into a modest size tree. The climate here is a bit too hot for good Madrone growth.
    In my opinion most smoking woods give an ashy smell (as in ash tray, yuk!) Manzanita doesn’t. For smoking flavor a little bit goes a long way. For cooking, it cokes up quickly and the coals last a lot longer then other woods…pg

  15. H.R. says:

    Hey, p.g.! We have ironwood around here! I wonder if anyone has tried it for smoke flavor quality?

    I’m going to keep my eyes peeled and see if I can get some from the fall down in the State Park next door. It’ mostly oak, beech, and maple.

    It used to be illegal to collect fall down until the State figured out they could get people to haul it away free. So I figure they cut some jobs in the Forestry Division and used the savings on nanny state programs instead.

    Oh, on occasion, they’ll post an area where there are felled or fallen trees. Anyone with a chainsaw and a truck is welcome to have at it.

  16. p.g.sharrow says:

    @HR; live oak/white oak such as used to make wine or whisky barrels is usable as is beech. Some maples are sweet and would work well. just go to where the locals are Bar-Be-queuing and ask about what they prefer. Every cook has a preference. Where I come from in Surprise Valley We used “Buck Brush” a cyanocises that grows above 5,000ft also a very hard dense wood that is somewhat rare…pg.

  17. E.M.Smith says:


    Did you mean Ceanothus?

    Ceanothus cuneatus (Hook.) Nutt.

  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; yeah,you are correct! my spelling really sucks.
    The spell checker didn’t understand me and it was too late in the evening for me to look it up!
    enough excuses yet?. ;-) Lol…pg

  19. H.R. says:

    @p.g.: Where I grew up, we had to take out a hard maple that was over 100 years old. We burned that in the fireplace for about 4 years. I found out I liked splitting logs by hand. The 4′ foot diameter sections were particularly satisfying to conquer with an ax and a splitter maul.

    We also had an orchard of 30 apple trees that had grown too big after the previous owner died (he built an apple storage house for the crop). We had to cut down half the trees to keep the remaining 15 trees healthy. There were quite a few years of firewood from that. We also had to take out a tart cherry tree and that was the best fireplace wood to add in with the maple. It was rich in sap and almost musical as it sizzled, whizzed, and popped in the fireplace. You definitely had to have the fireplace screen in place when burning the cherry and apple wood.

    At the time, nobody in our family was much into grilling. We had a seldom-used, brick barbeque similar to this (actually, ours was quite a bit nicer!)

    but we missed out on using it with those fine grilling woods.

    What we were into was putting on a fire in the fireplace and then wrapping a few of our homegrown potatoes (Kennebec, the best!) in foil and tossing them into the fireplace for an 8:00 or 9:00pm snack. Add butter, sour cream, and some fresh-trimmed chives and YUM!

    Oh! On one of the grilling wood sites, they also had grapevine as a choice. There are literally tons of that available in the State Park so I’m definitely going to give it a try. I’ll burn a bit in the fire-pit first to check it out before wasting any food over it. (Yes, I’ll be careful to make sure it’s grapevine and not a poison-ivy vine๐Ÿ˜œ.)

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