Differences between Heat Beads and Charcoal (7 Things to Think About)

Want to know the difference between heat beads and charcoal?

Not all fuel is created equal.

If you’re looking for a classic, Heat Beads BBQ Briquettes and charcoal are both great options.

While there are benefits to both, it can be overwhelming to know which one to get…

This guide will help you to make the right choice.

It will help you understand the differences in size, flavor, cost, and cooking method.

It’s time to fire up the BBQ, grab your cut of meat, whip out your delicious spice mix or marinade and start grilling!

Have a read below to find out which fuel will complete your next barbeque.

What are Heat Beads BBQ Briquettes?

Heat Beads BBQ Briquettes are charcoal bricks.

They are made of a blend of crushed hardwood charcoal and a mineral carbon known as ‘char’.

This gives the briquettes their long-lasting burn time.

Standard briquettes are made of starch, salt, and sand. Starch holds the briquettes in shape. Salt makes them easy to light. Sand helps them stay hotter for longer.

Heat Beads BBQ Briquettes are safe, non-toxic, and don’t smell.

What is Charcoal?

Charcoal is made by burning wood in a low oxygen environment until there is no moisture left in it.

Pitmaster purists love it because it’s pure carbon without additives. AKA charcoal, the natural way.

Charcoal is made from branches, twigs, floor scraps, and off-cuts from sawmills.

Should You Use Heat Beads or Charcoal?

Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

Below we will look at all the different categories ad compare them.

So you can make an informed choice when your grilling or smoking meat at home.

1. Size Of Your Fuel

You might be surprised by how much size matters when it comes to fuel.

One of the great advantages of using briquettes is that they come in the same equal size.

This means that they burn at the same temperature.

Heat Beads BBQ Briquettes are also less dusty than charcoal. This makes them easier and less messy to handle.

Charcoal comes in all shapes and sizes. This means you have to keep a close eye on how hot the lumps get.

This may require you to break the lumps into smaller pieces for a more even cook. Do this for multi-zoned cooking or the snake method.

2. What Are They Like To Burn?

Heat Beads BBQ Briquettes burn longer and have a steady temperature. This makes them more consistent to use than regular charcoal.

Charcoal Briquettes could also be considered safer than lump charcoal.

Briquettes don’t flare up when fat falls on them, decreasing the chance of causing a burn or injury.

Briquettes typically have a higher ash production than regular charcoal. Up to 10% of the briquette’s original weight is taken up by ash. This could be a potential problem if the ash content is extensive and clogs ups the lower fire grate. If you want to know how to light heat beads, you can see how we do it.

Charcoal doesn’t have temperature control. This means that it burns quicker and hotter and will require more practice and skill to use.

3. How To Cook With Them?

The method for cooking with Heat Beads BBQ Briquettes and charcoal are very similar.

Regardless of which fuel you use, avoid using lighter fluid as it can change the taste of your food.

Firelighters are a great alternative tool instead to get the BBQ fired up.

4. What Are The Differences In Taste?

Taste is one of the most important factors when it comes to cooking! Let’s talk about the flavors charcoal and Heat Beads give food…

Charcoal is known for giving a smoky flavor taste to food. 

Heat Beads BBQ Briquettes are not entirely ‘natural’ forming. So there is some debate that one will lose the authentic barbeque flavor you get with charcoal.

Briquettes may lack the authenticity of regular charcoal, but they also allow the meat to be smoked longer.

5. I’m Still Worried About Flavor

If you’re worried about losing that authentic barbecue flavor don’t worry.

The strongest flavors in food don’t come from fuel. They come from putting wood, pellets, or chips on top of your briquettes or charcoal.

Hickory, mesquite, oak, apple, and pecan are great options that bring out extra flavor.

Flavors also come from the vaporized food juices that occur during grilling.

Flavour also comes from any sauces, rubs, spices, or marinades that you have used.

6. Can They Be Reused?

Briquettes can be put out easily and reused if desired.

Unlike briquettes, charcoal cannot be reused.

7. Cost of Charcoal vs Heat Beads

Briquettes are typically more expensive than regular charcoal.

However, because briquettes take longer to burn over a period of time. They can be used again they have a longer lifespan.

What About Charcoal and Briquettes?

There are benefits to using both lump charcoal and Heat Beads BBQ Briquettes.

At the end of the day, it depends upon personal preference.

If you don’t have plenty of time charcoal is a great method. It cooks the meat quickly and is great for searing.

However, this is not the ideal format for all food.

Using charcoal could also lead to more waste, through accidental burning.

There is also more work involved in setting up and cleaning afterward.

If you do choose to go with briquettes there are many different types. Heat Beads are a great option but there are plenty of others out there.

Some alternative Briquettes you can find in North America include; Royal Oak Premium Charcoal Briquettes, Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes, Duraflame Cowboy Brand Natural Hardwood Briquettes, Stubb’s Natural Charcoal Briquets, and Weber Briquettes.

You can even get briquettes that are made out of coconut shell charcoal.

So Should You Use  Lump Charcoal or Heat Beads?

Ultimately, food isn’t given its strongest flavors by briquettes or charcoal.

Instead, it is through spices, marinades, sauces, drippings, and woods.

Charcoal vs. briquettes is a great debate and your source of fuel is important.

But, your meaty success depends upon the Pitmaster using them and the flavor you’re after.

Which is your go-to?

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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