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- Prime6 makes charcoal from compressed hardwood sawdust that burns cleanly and lasts up to four hours.
- We used it alongside our tried and true favorites all summer long, and here's why it wins out.
- It's also a favorite of "meat magician" Pat LaFrieda.
My first experiences with grilling were, far as I can recall, with match-light briquettes, lighter fluid, and goodness knows what else. Of course, go to any park or campground and you'll see much of the same. After all, lighting charcoal is nothing short of a pain in the neck, especially when you're hungry.
Unfortunately, there's no quick way to speed up the process of lighting charcoal, but there are tools, and apparently shapes, that can make it go as smoothly, evenly, and quickly as possible.
I was on the phone with Pat LaFrieda this spring, picking his brain as I often do, and amidst conversations of grilling tools, knives, and sharpeners, I asked him if there was anything new he'd recommend. "Randy Fisher [founder of CREaM] gave me this charcoal. You have to try it," he said.
With that, a strange, hexagonal prism arrived at my door one day shortly thereafter.
Before you scoff at the $18.99 price tag for a 9-pound bag of charcoal, know that the four-hour burn time and the claim that it's equivalent to a 30-pound bag of hardwood lump charcoal is no gimmick. In sum, you get double the burn time from one-third the amount of coals.
We held several small gatherings that lasted through the better part of each afternoon, and a small stack of six coals or so did the trick for a steady procession of burgers, hot dogs, and grilled vegetables.
One day, I decided to really put the coals to the test. I pulled out a two-pound bone-in shank, easily a four-hour task. After four hours, I had a fully cooked roast and there was still enough heat leftover from the coals to cook dinner that evening.How to light Prime6 charcoal
You'll want to adjust how many coals you're lighting for how much food you're cooking, but here are the brand's directions, and here's a basic rule of thumb from our guide to the best charcoal grills.
A starter chimney is far and away the easiest way to light these coals. Just place any type of starter beneath the chimney, line the coals up vertically in the chamber, light the starter, and position the coals over the flames.
I used the above amount — about four coals — for two of us, which was plenty to take care of four sausages, peppers, and onions. Had I planned for dessert, s'mores would have been an easy feat with plenty of time to spare. Instead, we sat around the coals for over an hour before we watched them die down.Light smoking with Prime6 charcoal
Through a little playing around with Cutting Edge's cooking Firewood, I found that lining Prime6's long-burning coals with a piece or two of wood can create a trickle of smoke without being too overwhelming. Everything in the photo was delicately seasoned with a hint of cherry, and we've continued to cook almost everything this way this past summer.The bottom line
In the end, these coals are cleaner- and longer-burning than your average charcoal, and they take up about a third of the space of a regular bag of charcoal. And, Prime6 works with One Tree Planted to plant one tree for each pack of Prime6 purchased, so, along with the fact that these coals are chemical-free, you can feel a whole lot better lighting your fire.