Have guests coming over? Get your grill going and let the fantastic aroma signal that summer has started. Grilling is one of the best ways to get everyone together outside, and it also gives your food a unique smoky flavor.
There are several grills available in the market, but the three basic and well known types aregas grills,electric grills and charcoal grills. In this article, we will be reviewing different types of charcoal so you can decide the best one to use for your charcoal grill. If you already have a charcoal grill, great, if you don’t, check out our article on Top 4 Charcoal Grills That Work Great for Every American Home.
What is Charcoal?
In simple words, charcoal is half-burnt wood that is formed by burning wood slowly, without any oxygen, so it turns into carbon. For grilling, charcoal is preferred over wood because it burns hotter and doesn’t produce much smoke.
Types of Charcoal
A wide variety of charcoals is available in the market, but we will only discuss the three basic types that provide quality and are readily available – you can go for any of the following charcoal types that seem right to you:
1. Charcoal Briquettes
Briquettes are the most popular type of charcoal as they are readily available and relatively cheap. People prefer them for grilling because they burn slower and last longer at a consistent heat. All the briquettes in a pack are of the same size, so you don’t have to cut them into small pieces, unlike wood or lump charcoal.
They are made from sawdust and scrap wood or wood by-products that are burned into charcoal and compressed to form briquette shape. Different additives are also used in briquettes that give them binding strength and help them burn longer. However, some say that the usage of additives in briquettes gives grilled food a chemical taste or smell.
Briquettes are harder to light as they have binding additives, but you can get them with a lighter fluid coat that makes them catch fire easily. Again, many people would vote against their usage as they might add a chemical taste or smell to food.
- Holds a consistent temperature for a prolonged time
- Provides a longer burning time
- Coated with chemicals and additives
- Produces more ash
- Takes more time to light
Best Charcoal Briquettes (Recommended):
Royal Oak Enterprises, formerly known as Bradleyville Charcoal Company, is one of the largest charcoal producers in North America. These charcoal briquettes can be lit and get started for grilling within 15 minutes.
They have a ridge shape that enhances their performance and allows for better airflow. This pack contains 7.7 pounds of regular briquettes that won’t add any bad smell to your food. However, the only drawback of Royal Oak briquettes is that it contains sawdust that leaves a lot of ash when used up.
Kingsford original charcoal briquettes are all American and considered as one of the most popular choices for barbeque charcoal. For a light, smoky flavor, Kingsford Original Briquettes are only made with natural ingredients, including real wood. Everyone wants their charcoal to light faster when grilling; this is why these charcoal briquettes have featured Sure Fire Grooves that provide enhanced lighting.
They will burn quicker, hotter, last long, and heat up to glowing white covered coals. Whether you are going to a picnic, joining a tailgate party or throwing a BBQ party at home, this 7.7-pound bag of charcoal briquettes is easy to carry and gets ready in just 15 minutes.
If you want premium quality briquettes that light fast without any lighter fluid coating, you should opt for Original Natural Charcoal Hardwood Briquettes. Unlike cheap charcoal, these pillow-shaped briquettes come in one piece (no broken pieces) and do not add smell to your food and. They don’t give off sparks, and you can set them up in your grill and start grilling within 10 minutes.
These briquettes don’t have any chemicals or additives, which means your food is safe from carcinogens. These chef-grade charcoal briquettes are a preferred choice of many pitmasters and BBQ lovers. Also, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up after the party is over because Original Natural Hardwood Briquettes leave little ash. If you are not happy with their product, the manufacturer offers a 100% refund within 30 days – no questions asked.
No sparks, no heavy smoke – just good heat that you require.
2. Lump Charcoal
Lump charcoal is expensive but doesn’t have any fillers and additives, which means you don’t have to worry about your food getting ruined due to chemical smell. Natural lump charcoal is produced by burning wood at low temperature, without oxygen. It is easy to light and leave a little ash. It is an excellent choice for charcoal grills that have a built-in feature of controlling air flow because this way, it is easy to adjust the temperature of lump charcoal.
However, if you do a lot grilling, natural lump charcoal might be a bit expensive option for you. Unlike charcoal briquettes, lump charcoal is not pressed, so no binding additives are present in them – just plain, natural charcoal. But keep in mind that there can be unusable and usually small pieces of charcoal when you order a bag of lump charcoal.
- Burns very hot
- 100% natural without any additives and chemicals
- Leave very little ash after cooking
- Easier to light
- Expensive than briquettes
- They burn fast, which means you have to use more of them
Best Lump Charcoals (Recommended):
Lump wood has its advantages and disadvantages but what we like in Fogo Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal is that it burns hotter, lights faster, and adds a richer flavor to your food than most other natural lump charcoals available in the market. However, due to their non-uniform shape, it can get difficult arranging them in a grill. Fogo brand is known for manufacturing large pieces of lump charcoal that even their one piece can nearly fill half a chimney.
Just as the name suggests, their charcoal burns like a jealous devil. They manufacture restaurant-style natural lump charcoal for the backyard grillers. It is directly sourced from South America and then the company hand-cuts and hand-fires them in brick kilns. If you want an amazing aroma and taste in your food, you can’t go wrong with the jealous devil all-natural lump charcoal.
Also, their charcoal doesn’t give off any sparks and burns clean so you can enjoy with your family without inhaling excess smoke. The manufacturer also states that their charcoal is 30% less used up by heat as compared to other fuels available. The pack includes 35 pounds of natural lump charcoal that comes in a heavy-duty kraft paper.
Created with original American hardwoods, Primo natural lump charcoal makes for a high-quality fuel source for grilling and smoking. Plus, it is free of tar or any foreign chemicals. Primo’s natural lump charcoal weighs less than most other charcoals but still, burns hotter, longer, and faster. It can easily burn for up to 36 hours in a smoker.
The pack contains 2 pounds of natural lump charcoal that is also much easier to clean once it is all used up.
3. Specialty Charcoal
Specialty charcoal is a combination of charcoal and BBQ wood chips, which means you don’t have to buy the wood chips separately, soak them, and add to your grill. The best thing is that specialty charcoal is also available in briquettes and can be started the same way.
Best Specialty Charcoal (Recommended)
Whether you are grilling meat, fish, vegetables, or poultry, Kingsford Charcoal with Mesquite will bring a rich smoky flavor to your food that you and your family will love. Lighting them isn’t an issue at all because they have Kingsford’s featured Sure Fire Grooves that allow them to heat faster while burning for an extended period.
Fire and Flavor John Wayne Briquette charcoal is a combination of oak and hickory, which gives your food a better flavor and spreads amazing aroma in the air. If you want straightforward specialty charcoal that you can enjoy cooking your food on, Fire & Flavor John Wayne Briquette charcoal is a great choice to for.
So, Lump or Briquettes?
Now, you know what makes both lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes different from each other – you would better be able to decide which one’s the right choice for you. If you want the all-natural, smoky flavor in your food without any chemical smell, you can’t go wrong natural lump charcoal. However, it is expensive. While briquettes are cheap, give off sparks when grease drips from the meat on the rack, and have additives, but the smell will go if you light them well completely.
So, if you can afford the expense of lump charcoal, then you should definitely go for it, but if you can’t, briquettes are always there for you.
Selecting the best charcoal completely depends on the choice of the pitmaster. Just remember, if you want to use charcoal that will burn hot enough and last long, don’t go for briquettes that have a lighter fluid coating. Lump charcoal is dense and made from real, natural wood that takes more time to start but burns hot and adds an amazing flavor to your food. If you have a smoker grill or enjoy slow cooking, lump charcoal is a great choice. Happy Grilling!