Demonstration of natural lump charcoal use for grilling this weekend

Do you want to see how Virginia wood can be turned into natural lump charcoal used for outdoor grilling? Natural charcoal burns hot and long, produces little ash, and confers a rich, savory flavor to grilled foods.

To see the natural lump charcoal-making process in action, come out to the Valley Smokin BBQ Festival in Front Royal. The Festival runs Friday, Oct. 2, and Saturday, Oct. 3. The charcoal making kiln will be fired up, stoked with wood, and within 10-20 hours, you will be able to see that wood converted to charcoal. Matthew Yancey, Virginia Cooperative Extension Forester, along with Charlie Becker and Joe Lehnen of the Virginia Department of Forestry, will be on hand to demonstrate and explain the charcoal making process.

The charcoal making process will actually start one day earlier than the BBQ Festival, on Thursday, Oct. 1 when the kiln is stoked, and by Saturday, Oct. 3 there will be charcoal to see. On Friday, Oct. 2, the charcoal will be “cooking.”

Many forests in Virginia need active management to improve timber stands, control invasive species, and reduce the risk of wild fire. Tree removals from management techniques such as these often results in unused woody materials which can be used to produce charcoal. Natural lump charcoal adds value to these underutilized materials while also adding flavor without the use of starter fluids, which can add undesirable chemicals and flavors to your food.

There is a cost to be admitted to the BBQ Festival, but the charcoal making demonstration is free. Please see for more information about the festival as well as directions.


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