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Choosing Charcoal: Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes

FireCraft recommends using only hardwood charcoal. There are two main types of hardwood charcoal: lump and briquettes. Each type of charcoal has its advantages and disadvantages and should be used in specific circumstances. Here are the differences and uses:

Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal is made by burning chunks of wood at high temperatures with low oxygen levels. This removes the tar and other fluids from the wood and turns the wood black. To the user, lump looks just like black chunks of wood. Never use lump charcoal that includes chunks of building materials like wall-studs, baseboards, decorative paneling, etc. Look for chunks that look like natural chunks of blackened wood.

  • Low ash
  • Burns hotter, up to up to 1400°F compared to 800-100°F for hardwood briquettes
  • Burns faster than hardwood briquettes
  • Burns less-evenly than briquettes, creating hot spots
  • Ceramic kamado grills like Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe
  • Indirect grilling on charcoal grills like the Weber Kettle
  • Competition-style smokers.

Charcoal Briquettes

Charcoal briquettes are made by taking small pieces of wood and pulverizing them into a dense-dust that is pressed together to form a briquette. Some manufacturers use chemicals for this process and some do not. FireCraft recommends all-natural briquettes made with no fillers or chemicals.

  • Burns very evenly
  • Burns longer than lump
  • Produces lots of ash
  • Many people believe it has less flavor than lump.
  • Direct grilling thin meats like burgers and steaks on grills such as the Weber Kettle

If you need help learning the best way to light your charcoal, please see our How to Light Charcoal guide.