Grilling Product Reviews: GrillEasy – Light, Chill and Grill?
On a consistent basis the team here at GrillJunkie™ sets time aside to communicate our formal rating on either a Grilling, BBQ or Burger related product. We do this via our Grilling Product Reviews process. As you certainly can imagine these products run the gamut from:
Gotta Have It!, Cool, Useful, Utilitarian, Ridiculous and the, well, Just Plain Asinine! The spectrum of grilling related products is wide.
Today’s Grilling Product Reviews candidate:
GrillEasy Natural Lump Charcoal – MSRP $6.99 – $8.99
The GrillJunkie™ Grilling Product Reviews (GPR) Scale
Based on our extensive field research, the GrillJunkie Product Review team assigns a formal rating to every product that we test. This rating is based on a 1-5 Firepot structure as illustrated by our Grilling Product Review (GPR) scale below. The number of Firepots given to the grilling product indicates the product’s final rating. The higher the number of Firepots, the more positive the review. We are NEVER compensated for our Grilling Product Reviews so as to protect our integrity, brand and Product Review objectivity.
Quick Product Reviews Rating: For the more impatient reader who needs to get the rating right away, we gave the GrillEasy Natural Lump Charcoal a 4.0 out of 5 GrillJunkie™ GPR Firepots. This rating equates to a Hot product but not quite Searing. The product directly addresses and solves the main problems for which it was designed by combing innovation and grilling tradition via a clean, professionally packaged, eco-friendly, fun, easy, fully natural and completely consumable container. In fact, the GrillJunkie team believes that GrillEasy through its simplistically innovative, single-use and fully consumable container’s internal vent system allows the griller to easily prepare a strong and sustainable heat source in less than 15 minutes without the usual mess and chemicals traditionally associated with lighting charcoal. It address the main issues faced by backyard grillers, tailgaters and campers – portability, lighting convenience, easy clean up and a searing, sustainable fire, anywhere, anytime. For more detail on this Product Review, including an overview of Traditional Charcoal vs Alternatives as well as the many upcoming Grilling Product Reviews on our schedule, read on!
Check out our YouTube video of the GrillEasy™ product in action here:
First Up: The Difference Between Lump Charcoal and Traditional Briquettes
Before we dig into the Grilling Product Review of the GrillEasy Natural Lump Charcoal, it is important to understand two things inherent to this product:
- GrillEasy™ is not a traditional charcoal briquette.
- There is a significant difference between natural charcoal such as lump hardwood charcoal and traditional briquettes.
What’s the difference between Lump Charcoal and Briquettes?
There are many things about grilling and BBQ that can ignite a fight. Our tagline, “What Fires You Up?”, conveys this well as indicated through the ongoing debate of Grilling versus BBQ and Charcoal versus Gas. A very specific flareup occurs when attempting to define the true meaning of “barbecue.” And with the proliferation of new grilling equipment from fancy gas grills, pellet smokers, ceramic charcoal cookers and even home-made BBQ grills, weekend warriors and amateur cooks are becoming exponentially more knowledgeable, not to mention opinionated, as to how to best cook their precious outdoor meals.
Just take a quick walk down the grilling aisle of any big box and even mom-and-pop hardware store and you will notice things are getting more complex and crowded. To the novice, as well as to the more experienced BBQ veteran there is both allure and confusion when it comes to your fuel source including wood chips, hardwood lumps of hickory, mesquite, apple, cherry and even coconut charcoal. Among the first and basic hurdles is navigating the question: Do you use charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal, a.k.a. as “natural” hardwood charcoal?
Most people with an opinion on the matter can agree that there are both advantages and disadvantages to each one: Briquettes burn more consistently, but unfortunately they contain nasty additives and generate more ash. Lump charcoal tends to burn hotter and can be made with specific woods that leave a hint of their naturally smoky essence on the food. However, the lumps come in a chaotic jumble of different sizes, some of which may not be evenly charred. Additionally, bags can contain excess dust that, when burned, may block the flow of oxygen in a grill.
If sales figures could help settle the debate, briquettes and instant light charcoal remain as favorites by far (they made up 94 percent of the charcoal shipped in 2013, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association). However, lump charcoal is heating up the marketplace a bit by attracting fans, especially among backyard cooks looking for the key word “natural,” on the packaging. There are now more than 75 brands on the market. The fires, they are a changin’.
In essence, both novice and experienced grillers are familiar with briquette charcoal. The pillow-shaped briquettes are as ubiquitous any any fast-food joint; available on every corner, cheap, yet most people don’t really know what’s inside of them. The majority of charcoal briquettes on the market today are manufactured wood by-products compressed by a machine with a laundry list of additives that help them keep its uniform shape and burn consistently. In addition, they are either already drenched with lighter fluid to get them started or it’s up to you to pour some on and light them up. A practice, by the way, that is not allowed by any member of the GrillJunkie team!
Let’s take a look at a list of some of the interesting unnatural ingredients in a typical charcoal briquette:
- Wood char
- Mineral char
- Mineral carbon
- Sodum Nitrate
- Aliphatic Petroleum Solvent
So if you don’t enjoy the taste of borax nor the smell of burning rubber and don’t want to contribute to the approximately 14,500 tons of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emitted from lighter fluid per year, there is another option; Lump Charcoal. Lump is made the old fashioned way, slowly exposing pieces of real hardwood to high heat until you’re left with little more than carbon. It’s that simple, no additives, no fillers, no lighter fluid, just pieces of real wood turned into carbon. Lump charcoal retains amazing smoky wood flavor that is transferred to anything you throw on the grill. For the lump charcoal-obsessed who prefer to buy it, there’s The Naked Whiz’s Lump Charcoal Database, which features detailes of dozens of lump charcoal products.
Does the GrillEasy Natural Lump Charcoal evolve the utilitarian grill heating product and experience to the next level? Let’s see!
EasyGrill Product Review – Box of Smoky Heaven?
The GrillJunkie Grilling Product Reviews follow a comprehensive structure which includes the:
- Problem that needs to be solved or addressed
- Solution to that problem
- Good, Bad and Ugly elements of the product
- Verdict – the official GrillJunkie™ GPR (Grilling Product Reviews Rating)
So let’s dig in to the GrillEasy Grilling product review.
Official Product Review and GPR
- Problem – The way we view it, the options for the heating method and/or heat source for an outdoor grill or BBQ are vast but mostly utilitarian. The vast majority of the non propane or gas grill marketplace is dominated by the traditional charcoal briquette. Unfortunately, this product albeit easily accessible comes wrought with issues such as being messy, inconvenient and unsafe to ignite, and most critically drenched in unhealthy chemical additives. In addition, these cumbersome bags of chemical carbon are difficult to throw in a back pack or vehicle in order to fire up a delicious grilled treat while camping, hiking, at the beach or picnic, or tailgating without having to bring along ignition paraphernalia such as nasty lighter fluid and charcoal starters. In essence, there is an opportunity to combine innovation with design via a compact, clean, natural, eco-friendly, chemical and solvent free yet highly effective heat source for the grill.
- Product’s Solution Pitch – The GrillEasy™ team’s approach to addressing the problem was to develop, market and distribute the Natural Lump Charcoal easy lighting, eco-friendly lighting product. According to the company’s marketing material and ad copy:
GrillEasy™ is on a mission to combine innovation with tradition and make charcoal grilling fun, easy, and eco-friendly. GrillEasy™ Natural Lump Charcoal offers an easier, cleaner, and environmentally friendly way of firing up your grill. Consumers now have an alternative to the typical bulky bags of charcoal and can put their focus back on what grilling is all about- cooking great tasting food outdoors and spending valuable time with friends and family. With its compact design GrillEasy™ Natural Lump Charcoal is easily portable and is perfect not only for backyard grilling, but also for camping, picnics, tailgating, and the beach.
- The Good – The product has a few important positive attributes. We found that the GrillEasy product:
- Is a natural, eco-friendly product
- Is packaged in a convenient, lightweight, easy to carry, self-ignitable package
- Comes in a 8″ x 7-3/4″ x 6-3/4″ package and fits in most portable and park grills
- Comes with easy to follow three-step directions printed directly on the consumable packaging
- Comes with a scannable UR Code to access online carnivore and omnivore recipes
- Leaves no waste as the entire package is consumed by the fire
- Is significantly less messy than a heavy, bulky and dusty charcoal bag
- Eliminates the need for dangerous and unhealthy lighter fluids
- Eliminates the need for a Charcoal Chimney lighter
- Burns hotter and lasts just as long as traditional briquettes
- Reached temperatures of 550° F within 15 minutes and provided about 50 minutes of cooking time
- In a closed off and air regulated smoker or a ceramic Kamado type grill, the coals lasted about 3.5 hours
How it Works: There are 3 steps involved in using the GrillEasy package. Tear off the bottom strip of the box. Place it in your grill. Light the wick located on the bottom. That’s it. And if you’re like a few of us on the GrillJunkie team; impatient and not too swift to remember those three easy steps, they even have the instructions written on the box.
- The Bad – There are, however, two minor challenging attributes to the GrillEasy Natural Lump Charcoal product. Albeit minor, the first is related to inconvenience but bordering on safety. When the fully consumable package is set afire the cardboard box tends to send a few embers floating in the air that some may find worrisome and/or a safety issue. This is no more of an issue of burning branches and lawn brush on a crisp October day in New England but with a keen eye on the situation and all is well. Remember that you are the ultimate keeper of the flame and grilling does come with adult responsibilities. With a quick placement of the upper cooking grill a majority of these hot ember floaters should be of minimal concern. The second issue is related to price. A typical 15 pound bag of generic lump charcoal at your neighborhood big box store may go for as little as $12.99. Comparing this price to the $6.99 for a 2 pound box of the GrillEasy product, it appears on the surface that this product is much more expensive; $3.50 per pound compared to $0.87 per pound. However, the key here is a matter of convenience, eco-friendliness and clean-up. It is “easier” and more convenient to take the GrillEasy on a camping trip, hike or to a tailgate than to pack up messy, cumbersome bags, chimney starters, lighter fluid and other grilling paraphernalia….hence the name GrillEasy. One compact box in the trunk or backpack for that matter takes up less space than a 8″ cube that does not need be repacked for the return trip home bound. Other constructive criticisms include the demand for other species/flavors such as hickory, mesquite, apple-wood, etc. as well as the possible expansion into larger sizes for bigger grills and larger crowds. The good news is that the founders come from an entrepreneurial background and from top business, entrepreneurship and experiential schools such as Babson College and Northeastern University that have taught this team to be responsive to their customers’ changing needs and input while calculating costs and ROI.
- The Ugly – None! Although this variable does not apply to a product like the GrillEasy Natural Lump Charcoal as it would compared to when we are evaluating the exterior appeal of say a gas grill or new grilling utensil, the exterior packaging is professionally designed and visually attractive. When it is put to use, however what you do get, admittedly, is dark black coals of charred wood, that for those who enjoy outdoor cooking and primal fire is a thing of beauty.
- Verdict – We give the EasyGrill Natural Lump Charcoal a 4.0 out of 5 GrillJunkie™ GPR Firepots. This rating equates to a Hot product but not quite Searing. The product directly addresses and solves the main problems for which it was designed by combining innovation and tradition via a clean, professionally packaged, eco-friendly, fully natural and completely consumable container. In fact, the GrillJunkie team believes that GrillEasy’s simplistically innovative, single-use, mobile and fully consumable container allows the griller to easily prepare a strong and sustainable heat source in less than 15 minutes without the usual mess and chemicals traditionally associated with lighting charcoal. We look forward to any new product developments that will come from the GrillEasy team. The future is ours to see. Stay tuned! We have over 2 years of products on our Grilling Product Reviews schedule but we’d gladly move our schedule to accommodate any new product from GrillEasy™.
GrillJunkie™ Rating of GrillEasy Natural Lump Charcoal = 4.0 / 5.0
Next Grilling Product Review: Squealers BBQ Hot Sauce
What are your thoughts? What Fires You Up?
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