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Derrick Riches

New Product: One Light Charcoal

By September 25, 2008

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Charcoal lighter fluid is bad, okay. Every year Americans alone pump over 14,000 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere lighting charcoal with lighter fluid. VOCs are cancer causing, noxious, smelly chemicals that cause smog and are third on the list of most significant greenhouse gases. Not only that, but lighter fluids can be dangerous, can leave bad tastes on food and are just generally a bad idea. So how do you light charcoal if you can't use lighter fluid. There are a number of alternatives like charcoal chimneys and electric charcoal starters. These options, of course require that you bring extra equipment and that can be a pain if you are camping, tailgating, or just having a picnic. For the griller on the go you need to have something you can rely on, but doesn't require planning, electricity, or a bulky charcoal chimney. Now enter One Light Charcoal.

One light charcoal is a 3-pound bag of lump charcoal that lights itself. The internal chimney design of the bag lets you set it on your coal grate, strike a match (long match included) and light the charcoal. From my trials with this product I find that you are ready to cook in about 15 minutes (the bag says 10 so results may vary). What happens is the cardboard chimney burns from the bottom up, lighting the charcoal which ultimately lights the bag. When the bag burns away (and it does quickly) the charcoal falls out to make a good, even fire. It really does work very well. What I particularly like about this single use charcoal bag is that it contains good quality lump charcoal that gives off a hot fire without a lot of smoke. It lights easily and doesn't require anything else to get a good charcoal fire going. If you are headed off to the park to use a community grill, this bag is all you need (besides the food of course). This is a good product for most grilling tasks. Mine produced a good fire for about 1 1/2 hours. This is not enough charcoal for a large cookout or for long cooking projects.

A couple of notes: When the paper bag burns off it produces a large fire. I put mine in a big green egg and the fire shot out the top vent, so watch ourself around this. I also noticed that as the charcoal was first lit that a number of sparks popped off, so watch the kids around this fire. I don't think that this is unsafe in anyway, I just think you ought to know. One Light Charcoal is currently available at Whole Foods Stores, but will be available online and in other retail outlets soon. A 3-pound runs around $3.50, so the price is actually very reasonable.

Photo 2008 Regarding BBQ Inc., licensed to About.com, Inc.

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