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6 Tips For Using Charcoal Pellets In Traegers

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Charcoal Pellets for Traeger

Traeger ardently states that you should only use their brand of wood pellets in all their models.

This includes charcoal pellets which may invalidate your warranty coverage, under the clause of using alternative fuel sources in the grill. 

Though there are multiple reasons why you should strongly consider not using charcoal pellets.

For starters, most charcoal pellets are made using leftover charcoal dust that is held together in pellet form using a blend of artificial binders.

These binders create a lot of ash, which can affect the Traeger’s performance throughout a long grilling session.

Charcoal pellets also tend to burn inconsistently and with potential flareups that can damage some of the Traeger grill’s internal components. 

If you want to add some authentic charcoal smoke and flavor to a wood pellet grill, you should only do so in moderation.

Ideally, you want to mix a small volume of charcoal pellets in with a modest amount of 100% natural wood pellets. 

This will give you some of that authentic grilled charcoal aroma, while still keeping the ash to a minimum, with consistent temperature control.

If possible, you might want to choose blended charcoal pellets.

They are made from a mixture of charcoal and wood fibers bound together.

This improves consistency as well as reduces the volume of ash in the firepot and the amount of particulate matter in the auger shaft. 

Royal Oak purport their brand of charcoal pellets to be safe in all wood pellet grills including Traeger.

However, Traeger does not completely agree with this statement.

The potential for charcoal particulate to clog the auger shaft, and increase the risk of a burn back incident, are notable safety concerns. 

There is also a concern about the excess ash that even high-quality Royal Oak charcoal pellets can leave behind in the firepot.

This can affect performance and heat control during a long smoking session, as well as lead to excess clean-up afterward. 

Ultimately, if you want to add a smoky aroma to your Traeger’s smoke, you should only add a modest amount of charcoal pellets to an already established wood pellet fire.

This will minimize complications, while still adding some of that classic charcoal appeal. 

Can You Use Charcoal Pellets in a Pellet Grill?

Some pellet grills are more compatible with charcoal pellets than others.

This includes the Pit Boss models and other competitor wood pellet grills that have a sliding broiler plate in the bottom of the primary smoking chamber.

This feature exposes the internal burning chamber for times when you want to do something like sear off a steak over direct flames.

If you are going to use 100% charcoal pellets in a wood pellet grill that is designed to operate on indirect heat, you want to only use them as an accent fuel.

The binders and fillers used to produce charcoal pellets can leave behind a lot of ash in the firepot and a lot of particulate matter in the auger shaft. 

It’s also worth noting that 100% pure charcoal pellets also burn up to 40% hotter than wood pellets do pound for pound.

Using them as an accent fuel in a standard wood pellet fire reduces the risk of overheating damage to the Traeger’s sensitive internal components. 

Blended pellets that have a small number of wood fibers bound with the charcoal dust will also burn with greater consistency and less unburned ash left behind.

Since charcoal pellets produce such a strong smoky aroma, a little tends to go a long way.

Should You Use Charcoal Pellets in a Traeger?

Traeger grills were originally designed to burn wood pellets, and Traeger only advocates using them in their grills.

The main problem with using charcoal pellets in a Traeger, or any wood pellet grill, is that the binders and fillers that help the charcoal pellets keep their shape leaves behind a lot of ash in the firepot as well as particulate matter in the auger shaft. 

This can affect cooking performance, and even increase the risk of a nasty burn back incident.

Not to mention complicating cleanup. 

You should also note that per pound, 100% charcoal pellets have 40% more energy density than standard wood pellets alone.

This means that you will get a hotter burn, which can be hard for a Traeger grill to compensate for.

It can also create a flame that’s so hot it could potentially damage internal components if you are strictly using charcoal pellets. 

If you are absolutely in love with the aroma of charcoal smoked food, and you want to add charcoal pellets to the equation, you should do so in moderation.

The goal is to let the charcoal be an accent to the wood pellets burning, and not just the primary fuel. 

Does It Matter What Pellets You Use in a Traeger?

The type of pellets you use in a Traeger will affect the flavor and possibly the temperature of the smoke.

Especially if you are using a named accent wood or wood pellets from another brand.

Traeger also includes language in their warranty policy that might void the warranty coverage if you use an alternative fuel source.

This can easily be interpreted as prohibiting the use of charcoal pellets in a Trager grill. 

Ideally, you want to look for premium “Blended” charcoal pellets that have a small percentage of wood fibers in them.

This helps them burn consistently, while also leaving less unburned ash and particulate matter behind. 

Can You Use Royal Oak Charcoal Pellets in a Traeger?

Royal oak themselves note that their 100% charcoal pellets are safe for use in all pellet grills on the market including Traeger, Pit Boss, Weber, Camp Chef, Re-Tec, and Green Mountain Grills.

These charcoal pellets were specifically engineered to be good for low and slow smoking as well as high heat grilling and searing.

Royal Oak’s premium charcoal pellets are made from 100% charcoal, which means they aren’t blended with wood fibers.

This makes them better for use as an accent to standard wood pellets in a Traeger grill.

Even a modest amount of Royal Oak’s 100% charcoal pellets will add a powerful smoky flavor and aroma to a grilling session. 

Final Thoughts

Traeger originally designed their grills to only burn wood pellets.

Then they went the extra mile to engineer premium wood pellets that burn clean and hot with little ash left behind.

To that point, they insist that you only use their brand of wood pellets in all their models. 

Yet many people who yearn for classic charcoal flavors and aroma will turn to add charcoal pellets to their Traeger grill.

Though there are still some important details to keep in mind, including the type of charcoal pellets you use. 

While charcoal pellets will indeed burn in a Traeger wood pellet grill. Pure 100% charcoal pellets can have up to 40% more thermal energy potential.

However, they use a lot of binders and fillers that create excess ash.

They can also leave excessive amounts of particulate matter in the auger shaft, which can lead to a burn back incident.

With this in mind, you should only add a small amount of charcoal pellets as an accent to an already well-established wood pellet fire.

This will add charcoal aromas and flavors while minimizing the complications that charcoal pellets bring to the equation. 

Royal Oak is one of the most popular brands of charcoal pellets, and they anoint themselves to be safe for use in all wood pellet grills including Traeger.

Though Traeger doesn’t completely agree with this statement. 

High-quality 100% charcoal pellets like Royal Oak might be better reserved for use in Pit Boss and similar grills that feature a sliding broiler plate.

This is a somewhat rare special feature that allows you to expose the flame of the pellet grill internal fire pot for doing things like directly searing steaks and chops over an open fire.

Whereas blended charcoal pellets might be the safer option for grilling over medium heat in a Traeger.