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Q: Do briquettes require hashgachah? How about cooking planks, wood chips, grilling paper and other wood items used in a barbecue? Does it make a difference if they have a specific flavor like apple, cherry, or hickory?
A: Charcoal briquettes contain a wood byproduct (among other ingredients), and the other items listed in the question are essentially 100% wood. The flavor of the food cooked with these items is impacted by the type of wood used, and the manufacturers highlight this by identifying the source of the wood. Thus, the names “mesquite briquettes”, “apple chips”, and “alder pellets” refer to items made from the wood of mesquite, apple or alder trees.
In general, these items are made from pure wood (or in the case of briquettes, wood mixed with ingredients that are not kosher-sensitive) and do not require hashgachah. The only exceptions are if the wood is pretreated, coated, soaked in wine, produced from barrels which previously held wine, or are labeled as containing some other kosher-sensitive ingredients.