Guide to Lump Charcoal for Grilling

You are going to need fuel that will keep your charcoal grill going for a long time. You can choose between charcoal lump or charcoal briquettes. The charcoal lump is preferred by most grilling enthusiasts because briquette charcoal is commonly sold in stores. The charcoal lump is prepared by burning the pieces of hardwood in an oxygen-deficient environment. As a result, impurities, sap, and moisture are removed from the charcoal. 

The left residue is pure charcoal and responds well to oxygen. Hence, you can control the heat for your barbecue on the grill. It can make a big difference in taste if you are using charcoal lumps or briquettes. 

Why Lump Charcoal Is Used for Grilling

Most the grilling enthusiasts prefer charcoal lump because it catches fire within no time. If you are having a limited time to start the fire for grilling, then charcoal lumps are best for you. Briquettes take time in catching fire and burning hot. You can have hot glowing coals in just a few minutes if you are using lump charcoal.

Lump charcoal burns hotter than the best briquettes available in the market and it leaves ash. Lump charcoal is more reactive to oxy and the burning temperature and flame are easier to control on the grill using the adjustable air vents. Also, lump charcoal is preferred because of fast high heat cooking. As a result, you can have a sizzling sear on the outside and medium-rare on the inside of your favorite steak. 

Some species of hardwood have a burning temperature of 1200°F and the highest approximately 1500°F. It does not mean that you cannot smoke or grill low and slow. Meat like chicken or pork chops can be cooked well by using lump charcoal and adjusting the temperature and airflow with adjustable vents on the grill.

Types of Charcoal

Charcoal Briquettes

Americans are most familiar with this type of charcoal. Briquettes are popular because they are cheap and available everywhere. They are made of wood with additional ingredients such as starch, sawdust, sodium nitrate, etc. They can be used for foods that require less cooking time such as steak or fish. 

Instant Charcoal Briquettes

Instant charcoal briquettes are not preferred by a lot of grilling enthusiasts because is it heavily pre-soaked in lighter fluid. When it is burned in the grill, it leaves your meal with a chemical aftertaste.

Hardwood Lump Charcoal

It is made from real chunks of charred wood. It does not contain any additives like briquettes. It costs twice that briquettes but there are a lot of advantages in using hardwood lump charcoal for grilling and smoking food. It burns easily and burns for a longer period. Also, it leaves a small amount of ash in the grill. The clean smoke gives a smoky taste or flavor to your food. 

Flavored Briquettes

Both lump charcoal and briquettes come in wood flavor versions. The most popular you will find in the market are hickory, mesquite, applewood, oak, etc. 

Things To Consider While Buying Lump Charcoal

Sources and Quality

Make sure that the lump charcoal is made of hardwood. You can check on the packaging label to know the source of the charcoal lump. You should be looking for Rainforest Alliance or other compliance regulations implemented on the destruction of the rainforest. You can get to know about it from the package label. Talking about the quality of the charcoal lump, it should be composed of 100 percent pure natural hardwood.

For better results, make sure that there are no binders, additives, and fillers added to the charcoal lump. While burning it for your grill, there should not be a lot of sparks. The high-quality lump charcoal is not having excessive sparking. The fireworks at night might look impressive but they can be dangerous. High-quality lump charcoal will not be having unburnt wood, dirt, and nails in the bag. 

Flavor

The charcoal lump bag is usually consisting of a mixture of hardwoods such as ash, beech, oak, etc. rather than using one kind of species. Different hardwood species provide your food a different flavor. Think of wood as a wine, the lighter the woods the fruity and delicate flavor it will be. 

For example, lighter woods such as maple give a lighter and sweeter flavor. It is best for grilling white meat. Darker woods such as hickory and oak give a strong flavor. It is ideal for grilling red meat. 

Specie

Flavor

Usage

Alder

Sweet and Smoky 

Smoke Seafood and Salmon 

Apple

Delicate Smoke

Fish or Pork

Beech

Fragrant and Musky Smoke 

Birch

Acrid Flavor 

Duck Meat

Cherry

Sweet Smoke 

Duck, Chicken, Salmon 

Chestnut

Mild and Nut-Like Flavor

Hickory

Wood Smoke

Pork and Beef

Oak

Strong and Bitter than Hickory 

Pork and Beef

About 40 varieties of hardwood trees are grown in the southern U.S. These varieties can be used for making lump charcoal. Oak hardwood is alone having 21 species. For trying different tastes, you can choose any of the hardwood tree lump charcoal for different tastes and flavors while grilling and smoking meat.

Burning Temperature

You might be thinking that once wood becomes charcoal, it burns at the same temperature. There is a difference between the burning temperature of every kind of hardwood lump charcoal. For example, apple burns at 1190 degrees Fahrenheit, maple burns at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to different burning temperatures, you will have to vent your fire according to the composition of charcoal. You must consider the burning temperature before buying any lump charcoal.

Wood Type 

Burning Temperature 

Western Red Cedar 

669.2°F

Redwood

687.2°F

Radiata Pine 

660.2°F

Douglas Fir 

662°F

Oak

1652°F

Victorian Ash 

591.8°F

Birch

1500.8°F

Spruce

1148°F

Beech

1742°F

Maple

1200°F

Apple

1190°F

Cherry

1099°F

Size

High-quality lump charcoal comes in uniform and large wood-shaped pieces. You will notice it on the package of the lump charcoal. You should know this thing that the large the pieces, the longer and hotter they burn. Also, you should be knowing that the charcoal dust at the bottom is of no use to you. If you use it in your grill along with lump charcoal, there will be excessive sparking. 

Lump Charcoal for Grilling – Give Your BBQ A Wood Taste and Texture

You can use lump charcoal for grilling and smoking meats such as lamb, mutton, beef, chicken, fish, pork, etc. Instead of using briquettes for grilling, you can use lump charcoal that burns faster and for a longer period. It will help you to give wood smoke taste to the meal. The lump charcoals are made from 100% natural hardwood that gives you a natural flavor or taste. Also, there is less wood sparking when you burn them. 

The large pieces of lump charcoal assure that you are buying high-quality lump charcoal. As a result, you get superior quality taste and flavor with low amounts of ash and dirty smoke.