If you are a grilling enthusiast, you must have encountered a debate regarding lump charcoal vs briquettes. For many, it can be very confusing to choose between the two.
If you’re a beginner at grilling and confused about choosing between the two fuel sources, this article is just for you.
Here, we’ll weigh down the reasons, including burn quality, ease of use, and price of both lump charcoal and briquettes. In this way, you can make a well-informed decision about the preferable occasion to use each fuel.
Click to jump straight to each topic
What is Lump Charcoal?
Let’s define Charcoal first. It’s the carbon byproduct acquired from the process of burning hardwood at a higher temperature in the absence of oxygen. This process, known as pyrolysis, removes other wood components, thus saving only carbon at the end.
By the way, lump and briquettes are both categorized as charcoal. So, what’s the difference between the two?
Lump charcoal is a direct result of the process in which nothing additional is added or taken away. The methodology draws all the much from the wood, leaving a charred shell of carbon. In this way, we get 100 percent natural and pure charcoal.
Consequently, lump charcoal is famous as the purest fuel source. The distinct quality of the lump charcoal is low and consistent burning for a more extended grilling session. Furthermore, it burns hotter and quicker than briquettes, producing lesser ash.
You can achieve a temperature of 1400F degrees using lump charcoal, far higher than briquettes.
Lump Charcoal Pros
- A natural and pure form of charcoal
- Easy to achieve the desired temperature
- Perfect for consistent cooking even at higher temperatures
- Produces less ash
- Easy to light
- Doesn’t contain fillers or chemicals
- Produces more smoke
Lump Charcoal Cons
- Expensive than briquettes
- Difficult for beginners to light up initially
- Inconsistently sized chunks
What are Charcoal Briquettes?
Charcoal briquettes are made from pulverized left-over charcoal. The process involves crushing charcoal into dust form and then further binding together using binders such as cornstarch and other fillers.
That’s why briquettes are more consistent in size and shape than lump charcoal. Moreover, the composition of charcoal dust and fillers result in uniform and steady burning. On the other hand, briquettes can’t reach a higher temperature or heat than lump charcoal.
Charcoal briquettes may include additional flavors and bits of wood chips during the manufacturing process. Moreover, other chemicals and lighter fluids facilitate the burning process. On the downside, briquettes may fire easier but tend to taint the food’s taste.
Don’t worry about the added chemicals or lighter fluids as they don’t harm you or your food. However, some people may experience a noticeable change in the grilled food’s taste.
Charcoal Briquettes Pros
- Maintains a constant temperature
- Burns for a longer time
- Requires less time intending to the fire
Lump Briquettes Cons
- Takes a long time to light
- Produces more ash
- Contain chemicals
- Difficult to control the temperature with airflow
- Doesn’t infuse a good smoky flavor
- Produces less smoke
Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes
Organic vs Additives
Both lump charcoal and briquettes have their advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, lump charcoal guarantees purity because it doesn’t contain additives like briquettes. That’s why charcoal lump signifies organic grilling.
On the other hand, there isn’t sufficient proof that additives in briquettes, alter or impact the taste of the food you grill or smoke.
You need to be careful if you are inclined towards using lump charcoal on your first attempt at grilling. It’s better to use a digital meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of your meat.
Are you wondering why?
It’s because you’ll find a variation in the lumps’ sizes when you open the bag. The best way to deal with inconsistent sizing is to keep a close eye on the temperature using a digital thermometer.
Conversely, it’s better to opt for charcoal briquettes if you want to achieve consistent grilling. The briquettes serve as a more comfortable option saving you from the hassle of monitoring the temperature.
Lump charcoal burns faster and hotter and is best recommended for searing and quick cooking. Conversely, briquettes burn slower at lower temperatures and are best for smoking.
Burn and Cook Time
Briquettes are known for burning for longer hours, making them ideal for smoking methods such as snake, domino, and Minion.
On the other hand, lump charcoal doesn’t last longer than an hour. It means you can use it for direct grilling burgers or sausages.
Furthermore, some larger pieces of lump charcoal may contain lignin and cellulose. These pieces aren’t carbonized completely, resulting in altering the meat’s flavor.
Type of Grill and Smoker
Obviously, you need to consider the type of grill or smoker you use. For instance, grills like Kamado smokers don’t have enough space for ash and can’t accommodate ash produced by burning briquettes.
An excessive amount of ash can block the airflow resulting in a temperature drop or a dead fire.
On the other hand, the Weber smokey mountain grill uses both briquettes and lump charcoal.
How to Buy Best Lump Charcoal Brands?
Now you must be wondering about how to buy the best lump charcoal brand to enjoy a delicious barbeque meal with your family.
Don’t worry because we have done the background research and picked Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal as a top-rated brand.
It contains 100 percent pure and ultra-dense South American hardwood packed in a waterproof and re-sealable bag. Furthermore, it doesn’t have any chemicals, fillers, or scrap material.
You can achieve hotter temperatures up to 1,170F degrees with twice the cooking power of over 7,000 kcal/g. Additionally, it ensures a burn time of more than four hours on open grills and 20+ hours in smokers.
Now, we are confident that you can differentiate between lump charcoal and briquettes and how they are made. Both of them have wood as their primary source with the same initial pyrolysis process.
However, briquettes go through an additional process of including binders and fillers. That’s why lump charcoal is regarded as the purest form of charcoal, burning faster and hotter. Conversely, briquettes guarantee consistent and slow-burning for a longer duration than lump charcoal.
To sum up, the final decision is yours to choose between the two based on air-flow, burn time, and the type of grilling.