Kingsford (charcoal)

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The Kingsford logo
Product type Charcoal
Owner The Clorox Company
Country U.S.
Introduced 1920s

Kingsford is a brand of charcoal used for grilling, along with related products. The brand is owned by The Clorox Company. Currently, the Kingsford Products Company remains the leading manufacturer of charcoal in the US, enjoying 80 percent market share. More than 1 million tons of wood scraps are converted into charcoal briquets annually.[1]


Ford sold more than one million Model T’s in 1919, and each of those Model T’s uses 100 feet of timber for the parts such as frame, dashboard, steering wheels and wheels. Because of the amount of timber that had to be used in the cars, Ford decided he wanted to produce his own supply. He enlisted the help of Edward G. Kingsford, a real estate agent in Michigan, to find him a supply of timber. Coincidentally, Kingsford’s wife was a cousin of Ford making the partnership a reality.[2] In the early 1920s, Ford acquired large timberland in Iron Mountain, Michigan and built a sawmill and parts plant there in neighboring area at Kingsford, Michigan. Henry Ford was always looking for new ways to combine resources. The mill and plants produces sufficient parts for the car but many wastes are generated too such as stumps, branches and sawdust. Ford suggested that all wood scraps were to be processed into charcoal.[3]

With the help of an University of Oregon chemist , Orin Stafford who had invented a method for making pillow-shaped lumps of fuel from sawdust and mill waste combined with tar and bound together with cornstarch. He called the lumps “charcoal briquettes.” [4] Thomas Edison designed the briquette factory next to the sawmill, and Kingsford ran it. It was a model of efficiency, producing 610 pounds of briquettes for every ton of scrap wood and sold only thru Ford dealership.Ford then named the new business Ford Charcoal and changed the name of the charcoal blocks to “briquets”. At the beginning, the charcoal sold to meat and fish smokehouses, but supply exceeded demand.[5]

By the mid-1930s, Ford was marketing “Picnic Kits” containing charcoal and portable grills directly from Ford dealerships, capitalizing on the link between motoring and outdoor adventure that his own Vagabond travels popularized. “Enjoy a modern picnic,” the package suggested. “Sizzling broiled meats, steaming coffee, toasted sandwiches.” It wasn’t until after World War II that backyard barbecuing took off, thanks to suburban migration, the invention of the Weber grill and the marketing efforts. A investment group bought Ford Charcoal in 1951 and renamed it to Kingsford Charcoal in honor of Edward G. Kingsford and the factory's home-base name and took over the operations. The plant was later acquired by Clorox in 1973. [6]


Kingsford Charcoal is made from charred softwoods, pine, spruce etc. then mixed with ground coal and other ingredients to make a charcoal briquette. As of January 2016, Kingsford Charcoal contains the following ingredients:[7][8]

  • Wood char - Fuel for heating
  • Mineral char - Fuel for heating
  • Mineral carbon - Fuel for heating
  • Limestone - Light Ash colours
  • Starch - Binding agents
  • Borax - Press release agents
  • Sodium nitrate - Speed up ignition
  • Sawdust - Speed up ignition

The raw materials, primarily wood waste from regional sawmill are delivered to the factory. The wood waste are fed into pits to undergo magnetic filtration to remove any metallic parts. The wood waste is then ground into fine particles and whisked with hot air to remove any moisture.[9] The wood particles are later processed through a large furnace with multiple hearths (called a retort) in a controlled-oxygen atmosphere. The wood is progressively charred as it drops from one hearth to the next.The charred particles are stacked in batches in a kiln that chars the wood without burning in a controlled-oxygen atmosphere.The wood particles are combined with the other ingredients, press formed into pillow-shaped briquettes and dried out before packaged to be sold. [10]


  1. ^ Kingsford : : Our Heritage
  2. ^ "Henry Ford's Connection to Charcoal". Knowledge Stew. 26 September 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  3. ^ Ford Iron Mountain plant
  4. ^ United States Grant US1609097 A, Stafford Orin F, "Process of making charcoal briquettes and product derived therefrom", published 30 Nov 1926 
  5. ^ "Who Made That Charcoal Briquette?". New York Times. 26 September 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Kingsford Charcoal". Prezi. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  7. ^ Kingsford Brand Charcoal ingredients
  8. ^ "Home Depot Safety Data Sheet" (PDF). 
  9. ^ "Oregon’s Kingsford plant is king". Billings Gazette. 30 Jun 2001. Retrieved 7 December 2016.  C1 control character in |title= at position 7 (help)
  10. ^ "Kingsford Brand Charcoal ingredients". California BBQ Association. August 2000. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 

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