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What Is The Best Charcoal? (Lump Charcoal Vs Charcoal Briquettes) Updated Dec. 2018

In the barbecue world, there is a war going on. A war that gets people really wound up.

It's not about the best bbq rub, the best smoker, and not even if you should be using the Texas crutch or not. Its all about the style of charcoal that you are using. Are briquettes or lump charcoal the better option?

It's amazing how passionate people get about over this subject. Are you loyal to the lump or are you bonkers for the briquettes?

We have put each through their paces and given a honest review on each.

So let's go: Lump Charcoal Vs Briquettes

Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes

Briquettes ​​are reliable & cheap you can be found pretty much everywhere. However you can never be quite sure what is in them. Briquettes are ​man made by-products compressed with additives and wood that help them light and burn consistently.

Whereas lump is charcoal ​still in it's natural form. You will find most old school pit masters ​ will almost always ​have a tendency to use it. ​Other than that, lump charcoal has a lot of ​great qualities; it burns hotter, lights faster and leaves very little ​residue or ash compared to briquettes.

I find it hard to pick a favourtie in this epic lump charcoal vs. briquettes battle! They both come in handy at different times! Briquettes have been a life saver when I want to set and forget, burning for hours and hours at the same temperature.​ Wheras lump charcoal  is usually superior when ​I need to cook faster and have more control over the heat. ​

What Is Lump Charcoal

 - What is Charcoal Made Of?

First off we will look into lump charcoal. How is It made? Well, lump charcoal is made up by slowly burning wood without oxygen, until the natural chemicals, moisture, and sap have disappeared from the wood. So essentially charcoal is  wood burned with little oxygen so that all that's left is essentially carbon

The product that you are left with is a charcoal lump that is far less harmful and left in a state that is far better for burning. Due to the construction, lump charcoal also leaves very little ash behind. This is something that I really like.

In general, it lights easier, faster and hotter than briquettes. This is partly because lump charcoal is all natural. It contains no fillers, additives or nasty chemicals.

Another really good property of lump charcoal is that it responds really well to oxygen. This basically means that you can adjust and maintain the temperature of your grill much easier by simply adjusting the air vents.

how to light charcoal

What I Like

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    100% natural product
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    Burns very hot
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    Easier to light
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    Very little ash left over After cooking 

What I Don't Like

  • Faster burning – this means you go through more
  • More pricey than briquettes

The Best Lump Charcoals

Grill Dome CCl-20

The Grill Done CCL-20 lump charcoal is perfect for those of you who are into your low and slow cooking. It holds great heat, for a long time. They are a decent size and you can even reuse them! They are a little bit pricey, although for the performance I feel this is appropriate. And you can never go wrong with a 100% American made product!

Are you looking for a full on savory smoke flavor? Look no further than the Fogo FHWC35LB. These little bad boys are brilliant. They are guaranteed to burn hotter for longer. The chunks are very decently sized and that contributes to the fantastic smoke time. They are a more premium product and I would recommend these for the serious cook!

Although Jealous Devil All Natural Lump Charcoal sounds like it came from the depths of hell, they definitely give off a flavor that tastes like they fell straight from heaven. This charcoal is one of the longest burning charcoals around. They are also 100% natural. You will be creating restaurant-quality BBQ with this stuff!

What Are Charcoal Briquettes

Charcoal briquettes are made very similar to lump charcoal. However, there are some differences.

Briquettes are made from left over wood and sawdust. Leftovers are mixed together with additives to create the briquettes. This process makes briquettes not pure wood.

The reason that the briquettes are mixed with the additives is primarily to help the materials bind together and create a uniform shape. This makes them easier to stack, store and package.

In some brands, chemicals are added to the briquettes. This is to help light the briquettes. Depending on the brand you can faintly taste a not so natural flavor in your meat. This is not so much the case for stronger meats such as duck or brisket but found to happen in white fish, or chicken.

how to light charcoal

Charcoal briquettes burn for longer than lump charcoal, however, they do not burn as hot. This is great for those who are planning on a low and slow cook.

You can find all natural charcoal briquettes, these are fantastic, however they do cost a little more than the more traditional briquette.

What I Like

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    Longer burn time
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    Cheaper than lump
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    Easier to light
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    Holds a steady temperature for longer periods of time

What I Don't Like

  • Produces more ash
  • Does take longer to light
    Contains additives and chemicals

The Best Charcoal Briquettes

Stubbs are my favorite charcoal briquettes. They are full of that classic southern BBQ flavor.

Another reason why I love these briquettes so much is that they are all natural. They are made up of 95% hardwood charcoal and 5% corn starch binder. This combination is environmentally friendly and chemical free!

You really couldn’t ask for any better from a charcoal briquette.

Kingsford is the maker of the best selling briquette ‘The Originals’. In my eyes, the Match Lights are even better.

The Match Lights burn much hotter than any other Kingsford products and are ready to cook with in a little over 10 minutes.

They are also made with natural ingredients and are shaped with more edges making them a real breeze to light initially.

Unlike a lot of other charcoal briquettes, they are not doused in lighter fluid so they do not taint the taste of lighter meats, like chicken or fish.

The Royal Oak Ridge briquettes provide an incredibly consistent burn. This is because they have a very uniform shape. They are also a little larger than most other briquettes, this means that you won't use as much per cook.

Although they are larger than most, they still come to heat fast, in just over 15 minutes.

Even when cooking white fish these briquettes did not taint the flavor at all.

This is without a doubt the best smelling charcoal briquettes on the market. As soon as you open the bag, you will be tempted to go buy more!

These little masterpieces are partnered with real pieces of authentic Jack Daniels oak whiskey barrels, so you know there is going to be an amazing flavor in these briquettes.

What Is The Difference Between Coal and Charcoal?

Basically the difference between coal and charcoal is that coal is a natural mineral and charcoal is a man made substance.

A Breakdown of The Difference Between Charcoal and Coal (Charcoal vs Coal)
Coal: Coal is a natural mineral found in the earth. It is created from decaying plants and animals under the earth crust. This is a long process but is basically made by lots and lots of pressure and heat. 

Charcoal: On the other hand charcoal is a man made substance produced by slowly heating wood or there similar substances.

What Are Some Charcoal Alternatives?

It is posible to get away with not even using traditional charcoal. There are several different kinds of charcoal alternatives out there. These alternative methods are all more environmentally friendly  than traditional charcoal.

However, I have never tried any of these myself so I can not comment on how they perform. If anyone has any experience with these alternative methods please let me know down below!

Charcoal Made From Organic Waste
In the African country of Cameroon, local students have created an ingenious way of turning the city of Douala's organic waste into charcoal. They collect organic waste from the cities overwhelmingly rubbish filled streets, shred it, then dry it in an oven to create charcoal. 

This way of creating charcoal is a fantastic idea and something that I think should be though about more here in the United States. 

Charcoal Made From Coffee
In Ethiopia waste the water part of the coffee bean from the coffee making process is pressed into briquettes perfect for burning. These briquettes are used locally and also shipped abroad. 

Charcoal Made From Poop
This may sound a little strange, but bare with me here. It is true that these briquettes are made form human excrement, however between coming out and being burnt they go through quite a transformation. This style of briquette production is mainly happening in Kenya, however could be implemented world wide. 


First off the human.. waste is left to dry out completely for 3 weeks. It is them bought up to a temperature of 1292°F which starts the process of carbonisation. Sawdust and banana leftovers are then added to the mix along with fragrance and binders then pressed into circle briquettes. These briquettes are 100% safe and can be used for cooking.

Charcoal MaDe From CocoNut Shell
There are several really good pros to coconut shell briquettes. Unfortunately they don't give your meat a coconut flavour though.

Coconut shell briquettes actually burn hotter and longer than your standard charcoal briquette. They also have less carbon emissions than regular briquettes and the ash can be used as a natural fertiliser. What a win, win, win situation.  

Coal vs Charcoal Final Thoughts

I hope that this has helped you figure out your side on the Lump Charcoal Vs Charcoal Briquettes debate.

Personally,I find that both different styles have a place. Nowadays its great that you can find each style of ​charcoal 'additive and chemical free. I feel much better using charcoal knowing I am not harming myself or my family.

 If you have decided on a fuel, then you have to check out my charcoal smoking tips. This ​will allow you can impress your family and friends with ​your BBQ skills!

Happy smoking everyone

Charlie

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Charlie

You will more often than not find me tinkering around in my backyard. I will have one hand tightly gripped around a can of beer and the other hand tightly gripped around my spatula. Not so long ago (almost 8 years now) I got obsessed with Grilling, smoking and BBQ-ing. I can't get enough of it.. and neither can my family!

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