Saturday, October 20, 2012

Charcoal Briquettes (their origin)

"Though many claim that Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were the original inventors of the charcoal briquette, a closer look into the United States patent library reveal the original inventor was Ellsworth B.A. Zwoyer. At the time he designed and patented the original briquette (1897), he was living in Reading, PA, and later moved to Perth Amboy, NJ.

After World War I, Zwoyer and his son Paul started the Zwoyer Fuel Company, which built charcoal briquette manufacturing plants in Buffalo, NY, and Fall River, MA. In 1927 he acquired two more briquette patents for a “Briquetting Method” and a “Method of Carbonizing Fuel Briquettes.” The Great Depression took its toll on Zwoyer's company and he moved his family to Illinois.

It remains a mystery how Edison and Ford came up with the idea to make their charcoal briquettes. Zwoyer was reportedly an acquaintance, if not a friend, of Edison and Ford, and we know that Edison and Ford used left-over sawdust and glue from Ford's automobile assembly lines to make the briquettes." [1]
Kingsford is a brand of charcoal used for grilling, along with related products. The brand is owned by The Clorox Company.  The Kingsford Company was formed by Henry Ford and E.G. Kingsford during the early 1920s. Charcoal was developed from Ford Motor Company's factory waste wood scrap. The Kingsford Company was formed when E.G. Kingsford, a relative of Ford's, brokered the site selection for Ford's new charcoal manufacturing plant. The company, originally called Ford Charcoal, was renamed in E.G.’s honor.
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 August 2000, Kingsford Charcoal contains the following ingredients[2]
  • Wood char
  • Mineral char
  • Mineral carbon
  • Limestone
  • Starch
  • Borax
  • Sodium nitrate
  • Sawdust
Today, 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.[3]

[1] - Information gathered from an article published on THE SUSTAINABLE TABLE Website   - by Chris Hunt with contributions from Jill Peterson and Diane H.