What is lump charcoal?

If you ever follow me on social media, you’ll find that I like to raz people about using briquettes. For the record, it is all in good fun. Both types are perfectly fine to use. But there are differences and here I am going to go over some of them.

When it comes to charcoal, you generally have two options. Lump charcoal is actual wood that has been charred. You will find a lot of companies will market specifically what type of wood such as Hickory or a lot of companies like oak or other hardwoods.

fire charcoal

What are charcoal briquettes?

Briquettes are merely lump charcoal that’s been ground up, mixed with some binders and pressed into its briquette shape. The process does two things. The first is because every piece is very similar, you end up with a more uniform burn times. Because of this, temperature fluctuations shouldn’t be as much as it would be with the lump charcoal. The downside of that however is that some companies put a few too many binders in the mixture ,which you can cause a foul taste. It can also give you some really nasty ignition smoke. If you buy briquettes, I really recommend buying a quality brand.

No matter which charcoal you go with, get a good brand that is known for producing a quality product. You don’t want either types of these charcoals to be mixed with weird chemicals or binders.

The advantages of lump charcoal is it usually burns hotter than briquettes. Because it’s real wood you can get a little bit more of that hardwood flavor that it’s made out of as well. I typically recommend using lump charcoal for someone who’s looking for that higher heat cook. A good example would be searing a steak or if you’re into grilling in general and you like to cook hot and fast, lump charcoal is just what you’d be looking for.

The advantage of the briquette is that because they’re all uniform, you get a much more controlled burn out of them. Though they generally don’t provide as much heat as lump charcoal but you end up with a little more consistency with how long it’s gonna burn and what temperature it’s gonna burn at.

I generally recommend charcoal briquettes for people who like to go low and slow with their barbecue and don’t want to have to monitor it as often. An example would be that you want to cook a pork butt at 250 for a long time.

What is the difference between blue and white smoke?

Here is a tip for you beginners. No matter which type of charcoal you use, they will put off a bit of an ignition smoke after you get them lit. Let the coals get good and hot before you add meat to your barbecue. Be sure there’s no more puffy white smoke coming out. You want a thin smoke with a tinge of blue. Again, this is for charcoal only. If you add wood, this will produce its own smoke. So get your charcoal smoke right before adding to it.