Charcoal Briquettes vs Lump charcoal this is a debate that will never end. Both types of charcoal have there benefits and there drawbacks. In this post we will break each type down so you can make an educated purchase.
Charcoal guys are very loyal to their favorite type and brand of charcoal and I am no exception to this. For those of us over the age of 25, Kingsford gave us the charcoal flavor we grew up with. About 10 to 15 years ago Cowboy was the first major natural lump brand to show up in mass market. Now we have all kinds of different brands and types of charcoal available to us. It truly is a golden age.
To start charcoal briquettes vs lump, we begin with how they are made.
Charcoal Briquettes are made by compacting bits of charcoal, coal, starch, sawdust, and sodium nitrate into what they like to call pillows. Though the exact recipes will vary by brand.
Lump Charcoal is simply scrap wood burned in a low oxygen environment. This wood can come from many different sources. One that I know of is scrap from furniture manufacturers.
How do they light?
We are going to call this one a wash. In my experience both lump and briquettes light easily.
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Which burns better?
Charcoal Briquettes will give you a more consistent heat and cook time. This is because of there uniform size and shape. They also burn at lower temperatures and can be made to burn longer than lump.
Natural lump because the size and shapes of the coals vary there will be a small fluctuation in temperature and cook times. Nothing that can’t be controlled with your vents. It leaves a lot less ash in your pan than briquettes and can burn hotter when needed.
What about that charcoal flavor?
Charcoal Briquettes are the only way to get that traditional charcoal flavor. With the newer hardwood briquettes that taste is milder and leans closer to the lump.
Natural Lump has a much milder smoke flavor closer to burning over real wood but not quit. This allows you more control over the smoke flavors you can add with the use of wood chips or chunks.
The newer hardwood charcoal briquettes on the market are a good middle ground between traditional charcoal and lump. They give you a taste and smoke without the coal flavor and smell.
As stated at the beginning of the article I do have my personal preference and so here it is. I am a Royal Oak Natural Lump charcoal guy. Because I like the clean burn and the subtle smoke flavor it gives my food. Having the flexibility to add wood chips (apple and hickory) is a major plus as well. When we do use briquettes I stick with the Royal Oak brand as well.
It is important to note: That when we write articles that specifically deal with heat and burn times for charcoal we use Kingsford. Since it is the most popular charcoal out there.
aka Sultan of Sizzle
I have been blogging about and selling grilling tool for over 12 years. A Certified Food Safety Professional, KCBS member, award winning writer and have over 10 years experience in the food service industry.
“I have experienced some of the best food this country has to offer and nothing is better than the food that comes off my own grill!”