Can You Use Charcoal Pellets in a Traeger?
Technically the hopper and auger system of a Traeger wood pellet grill will deliver charcoal pellets to the internal fire pot and they will burn.
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However, it might not be the best idea to use only charcoal pellets in a grilling session.
Especially a long smoking session, where you are going to have to burn a lot of pellets.
Charcoal pellets are typically made from charcoal dust and require a significant amount of chemical binders and fillers to hold into a wood pellet shape.
This means that when they burn, charcoal pellets tend to leave behind a lot of ash.
Sometimes they burn hotter than the automatic auger system in a Traeger is set for and can potentially damage internal components in a wood pellet grill.
Charcoal pellets also tend to have more particulate matter in the bag and require sifting before adding them to a Traeger’s hopper.
They also break down easier than wood pellets, leaving particulate matter in the bottom of the hopper and in the auger shaft.
During a long, hot smoking session, this charcoal dust can catch fire in the auger shaft causing a dangerous “Burn Back” problem.
This is just one of the reasons why Traeger notes that using alternative fuels can void the warranty coverage.
However, charcoal pellets do add an aroma and flavor that says “Grilled Food” in a way that typical wood pellets can’t always replicate.
So, it’s best to use them as an accent to an already established wood pellet fire.
There are different types of charcoal pellets to choose from.
Some are made from 100% charcoal, while others are blended with wood fibers for better consistency.
100% charcoal pellets like those offered by Royal Oak can have up to 40% more energy density than standard wood pellets and are better used in moderation for accenting an established wood pellet fire, rather than as a primary fuel source.
Even as a small amount, these 100% charcoal pellets create potent smoke density to augment a fire that is primarily made up of wood pellets.
Blended wood pellets made by Louisiana Grills, Camp Chef, Pit Boss, and Kingsford incorporate a small percentage of wood fibers with the charcoal dust.
This helps reduce heat control problems while also leaving less unburned ash behind in the Traeger’s firepot.
It makes blended charcoal pellets a better choice for times when you want to use charcoal pellets as your Traeger’s primary fuel source.
Should You Use Charcoal Pellets in a Traeger?
You should only use charcoal pellets in a Traeger in moderation. It’s best to think of them as an accent to a fire that is primarily supported by high-quality wood pellets.
Charcoal pellets offer an intense smokiness, so a little goes a long way.
Using only a modest amount also reduces the amount of particulate matter in the auger shaft and hopper.
You should also note that pound for pound 100% pure charcoal pellets have 40% more energy output than standard wood pellets.
You will need to compensate for this when it comes to heat control.
An overly hot flame can easily damage sensitive internal components in a Traeger wood pellet grill.
What Charcoal Pellets Can Be Used in A Traeger?
Blended charcoal pellets with a small amount of hardwood fiber bound with the charcoal material tend to work better in a Traeger wood pellet grill, where you will be burning just charcoal pellets.
Whereas 100% charcoal pellets are better used for adding a charcoal accent to a largely wood pellet fire.
Though different brands have different characteristics to consider.
100% pure charcoal pellets from brands like Royal Oak have up to 40% more energy potential than standard wood pellets.
This can lead to thermal control issues, high-heat burn backs in the auger shaft, and even damage to a Traeger grill’s sensitive internal components.
This makes 100% pure charcoal pellets better served as an accent to a standard wood pellet fire.
Blended wood pellets from brands like Louisiana Grills, Camp Chef, Pit Boss, and Kingsford do burn a little hotter than standard wood pellets, but not with such damaging heat control issues.
They also tend to leave less unburned ash behind in the fire pot and less particulate matter in the auger shaft.
This makes them the better choice for times when you want to use charcoal pellets as the primary fuel in your Traeger grill.
Charcoal pellets offer some strong smoky flavors when they are used in a Traeger grill.
Though you have to be wise about the type of charcoal pellets you choose and how you use them.
100% pure charcoal pellets like you get from Royal Oak burn up to 40% hotter than typical wood pellets.
This can lead to serious thermal control issues.
They also have a lot more chemical binders and potential fillers that can leave unburned ash in your Traeger’s fire pot and increase the risk of burn back occurring in the auger shaft.
All of these factors make 100% charcoal pellets a better choice for accenting an established wood pellet fire, rather than a primary fuel source.
The potency and smoke density of the charcoal will go a long way with just a small volume added to the wood pellet hopper.
Blended wood pellets offered by brands like Louisiana Grills, Camp Chef, Pit Boss, and Kingsford mix in a portion of wood fibers with the charcoal.
This reduces the risk of thermal runaway and leaves less unburned ash behind in the Traeger’s firepot.
This makes them the better choice for times when you want to use charcoal pellets as your Traeger’s primary fuel source.
This article was written by Robert McCall, the founder of bbqdropout.com. Robert also owns and operates the BBQ dropout YouTube channel where he demonstrates his first-hand experience cooking all kinds of meats and strives to provide helpful, authoritative content for people looking how to barbecue.
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