The argument between charcoal vs. propane is as old as time when it comes to tailgating. For those tailgaters that are propane users and never use charcoal, go ahead and read this post from a few years ago: Myth Busting: Propane & Winter Tailgating.
Now that we have weeded out the propane users and are down to the charcoal grillers, we recently had the opportunity to test out and review Stump Chunks. Their claim is that their product is “an all natural, E-Z-light fire starter, is made by creating a unique blend of open weave New England hardwoods and softwood. This special structure creates a blast-furnace effect when lit, giving you impressively fast lighting.” We were sent a sample of Stump Chunks and wanted to test it out for ourselves. First, take a look at their demo video showing how fast Stump Chunks lights.
Most tailgaters light their charcoal with the assistance of a fire accelerant like lighter fluid. The trouble with lighter fluid is that most of the time it lingers and makes your grilled food taste like a petroleum refinery. Obviously if you can taste the lighter fluid in your food that can’t be good for you. To alleviate that problem, some tailgaters will light their charcoal using a Charcoal Chimney. Most will use a crumpled up newspaper but that option doesn’t burn for very long and doesn’t create enough heat to really get the charcoal going. Others may use starter sticks but those are basically saw dust held together by paraffin wax. By comparison, Stump Chunks are all natural and no trees were cut down expressly to make this product. Stump Chunks is environmentally friendly in that they utilize a forgotten source of energy – high density, naturally aged tree stumps.
Whenever you try and start a camp fire or a fire in your fireplace, you always use kindling, right? Small pieces of wood light easier and produce a lot of heat quickly. Think of Stump Chunks as kindling for your BBQ grill. Since Stump Chunks come from the New England area, the wood is different than other types. In New England, hardwood trees grow slower than in warmer parts of the United States. This slow growth creates an almost double-density wood which contains more BTUs per cubic inch compared to other hardwoods grown in other parts of America. Simply put, more heat means faster starting.
On top of all that, Stump Chunks are made from the stumps of trees already being cut down. No trees are cut down for the intent of making Stump Chunks. Stumps Chunks are a byproduct of the logging industry in New England where the stumps are useless to that industry but can be recycled into this product. Now, no part of the tree goes to waste. Before when these trees were cut down the tree stumps were left behind littering the landscape and they served no purpose. Stump Chunks now takes something that was considered useless and turns it into something to help you light your charcoal faster while tailgating.
As mentioned earlier, we were sent a sample of Stump Chunks to test out and review. We used the Stump Chunks to light the lump charcoal in our Bubba Keg Grill we have had since reviewing that product back in 2009. We snapped some photos of different stages of trying Stump Chunks out.
As you can see in the photo gallery, we placed a handful of Stump Chunks underneath the lump charcoal in the Bubba keg Grill. Put a small layer of charcoal in and sprinkled a few of the Stump Chunks on top and then put more charcoal in. Lit the Stump Chunks underneath and let them go. They immediately caught fire and not to sound too cliche, spread like wild fire. I was really surprised at how quickly they burned and caught the neighboring pieces on fire to get the fire to a nice hot, flaming temperature in about 90 seconds. After about five minutes I could see an orange/reddish glow coming from the base of the charcoal pile. Within about 10 minutes the charcoal was getting quite hot and within 15 the coals were blazing hot to the point with the lid of the Bubba Keg closed, the temperature inside was hitting over 800 degrees. Of course given enough time, lump charcoal in the Bubba Keg environment would get that hot but I had never seen my Bubba Keg get to 800 degrees in about 15 minutes.
I will admit it that I love the taste of food cooked on a charcoal grill. The one thing I do not like about charcoal grilling is the amount of time it takes to get the coals hot. I found that the Stump Chunks got the coals going faster and in a tailgating environment, time is a valuable commodity. When you have a group of hungry people at a tailgate party, making them wait while the charcoal gets started is not what you want to be doing. Based on this aspect alone, I would highly recommend Stump Chunks.
In addition to the faster starting time I experienced I also liked the “warm fuzzy” aspect of Stump Chunks. Not normally do we as tailgaters get a chance to be environmentally friendly. With all the trash and disposable items that we use and produce, tailgating is not always the most kind to the environment. With Stump Chunks you get the benefit of lighting your coals without burning fossil fuel lighter fluid and also you are using something that was recycled into something useful when before it was just wasted.
With all that said, it is safe to say that Stump Chunks is definitely certified “Tailgate Approved” by us here at Tailgating Ideas.
Because Stump Chunks are produced in the New England area, as you might expect, they are available in stores in the north east. If you are in that area, use their Store Locator to find a place that sells Stump Chunks. If you live outside of the north east, you can buy them online and they will ship them. Stump Chunks come in three different quantities. The smallest is a waterproof clear plastic 10 x 14 inch bag that sells for $3.00 each. The next size up is a Fire Starter 0.3 cubic feet bag which sells for $5.00 each. The StumpChunks Fire Starter 1.0 cubic foot bags are $10.00 each. All quantities sold via the internet are subject to shipping charges.
For more information or to order some Stump Chunks for your next tailgating venture, visit: stumpchunks.com
- Video: Why Tailgating With Propane Is Better Than Charcoal
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- Tailgate Wiki: Wikipedia of Tailgating
- FiAir Review
- Myth Busting: Propane & Winter Tailgating
- FlameDisk Makes Charcoal Obsolete