What are the Different Types of Charcoal for Grilling?


    Charcoal is one of the essentials for your barbeque. Although people use both charcoal and wood to cook their juicy meats, a lot of people prefer charcoal over wood for its smoky and charred taste. It may seem that all the charcoal is the same, but they come in different types that many people aren’t aware of. A bag of uniform black, pillow-shaped hard briquettes block looks perfect for your barbeque grill but they all are not the same. Wood chunks, wood chips, wood logs, and wood planks can also add to the delicious taste out of your vegetables, chicken, beef, etc. For those who don’t know the difference, here we have details to find the best types of charcoal for grilling along with their dominant features. Let’s have a look at the details:

    1. Charcoal Briquettes:

    The most common and popular way to cook in the outdoors or heat the food is to use charcoal briquettes. Charcoal is basically half-burned wood which can be used to cook food. A bag of charcoal briquettes contains a lot of pillow-shaped coal pieces which are made of several ingredients.

    • Hardwood Char:  While grilling, one needs to have char which can be taken from hardwoods.
    • Anthracite Coal: To control the smoke, odor, and consistent burning, the charcoal contains high BTU anthracite.
    • Sodium Nitrate: A small amount of sodium nitrate helps you lighten the charcoal briquettes.
    • Starch and Lime: Starch and lime are also used to prepare charcoal briquettes as they control the evenness of burning ashes by the charcoal briquettes.

    Key Features of Charcoal Briquettes:  

    • The Charcoal briquette burns evenly and a lot longer than the natural wood charcoal.
    • It does not burn as hot as the natural wood charcoal.
    • It takes about 20 to 25 minutes to get the optimum temperature for cooking.
    • It takes longer to cook food.
    • It takes less storage space while packing.
    • It works for cooking, heating and also for adding flavors in many food dishes.

    2. Natural Wood Charcoal/ Natural Lump:

    Natural Wood Charcoal is one of the best options for cooking foods at high temperature as it raises the maximum temperature in a very short time. It does not contain any additional ingredients and is 100% all natural.

    Key features:

    1. It burns at high temperatures approximately 800 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit normally.
    2. It takes less time to burn; approximately 7 to 10 minutes for full fledge flames.
    3. It is made up of renewable hardwoods
    4. Totally free of any additional ingredients
    5. One can start a fire from them easily and they produce a small amount of ash.
    6. It burns clean but does not last long.

    3. Charcoal for Ceramic Grills/ Oven:

    Since times have changed and people now prefer convenience while cooking, there is a different version of ceramic grills and oven available. It looks like a giant egg but works like a furnace or a ceramic grill. This is basically a modified version of Chinese oven and Indian/Pakistani tandoor. The newer ceramic grill uses charcoal as well as the gas in modern times, and it retains the moisture of food when cooked on high temperatures.  The temperature in these grills can rise from 225 degrees F to 750 degrees F. 

    Key Features of Ceramic Grill Charcoal:

    • These are affordable and well-regarded in China
    • These charcoal are 100% natural and they come from Argentina where they are known as the ‘Axe breakers’ by the locals.
    • They produce low ashes and burn hot immediately.
    • They can easily rise above to 800 degrees F from 225 degrees F.

    4. Instant Charcoal Briquette:

    Some people use instant charcoal briquettes as they are soaked in lighter fluids. They can cook your food in a lot less time but they might leave your food with a lot of harmful chemicals.   

    5. Hardwood Lump Charcoal:  

    This Special charcoal is built from actual charred hardwood. They contain no additional ingredients in them as they are made of natural wood. They are better and cheap than the briquettes plus they also burn a lot longer than the charcoal briquettes. The real wood chunks used in them can add a special aroma and flavor to your food. The only downfall for hardwood lump charcoal is that its fire flame does not burn at a consistent temperature.  

    6. Flavored Charcoal:

    Briquettes and some lump charcoal also come in flavors as they are made with all natural Applewood, mesquite, and hickory. This flavored charcoal can be added as a wood stick to add flavors in your food. They are much expensive and are 3x the cost of regular charcoals. 

    7. Binchotan Charcoal:

    This is a premium kind of white charcoal and this pure white charcoal is produced from hard Ubame Oak trees from Japan. They burn at high temperatures and last up to 3-5 hours.  


    There is a huge variety of charcoal that can be used for grilling. If you want comfort and ease while grilling then you can for bags of charcoal briquettes or the natural charcoal made from actual wood. 


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