Many debatable subjects in the barbecue world are mostly answered from an individual standpoint rather than a general view. Such controversial topics engaged in by pitmasters and BBQ enthusiasts during cookout are the right cooking fuel issue.
You might be wondering why some grill masters choose a particular type of cooking fuel over the other. Or which of the coal suits your grilling needs.
Well, when it comes to grilling and smoking, every grill master has their preferred choice of charcoal. And nothing beats the taste of a smoky barbecue or a flavored roasted chicken prepared in a conventional grill.
If you are having difficulty selecting between Lump charcoal vs. briquettes as a newbie in the grilling game, in this article, you will find a helpful guide. All coals are gotten from wood but are processed or treated differently. Let’s get started with how they are processed.
What is Lump Charcoal?
Lump charcoal is one of the purest types of fuel gotten from 100% natural hardwood such as cherry, maple, Apple, oak, and hickory.
These woods are free of toxic chemicals that add a weird taste to food when used as fuel. When making lump charcoal, the wood has to be burnt slowly to remove moisture, methane, other harmful substances, and its sap content.
The wood undergoes a carbonization process for it to become pure, eco-friendly, and nontoxic. During this process, the wood burns out, takes shape and size.
It contains zero additives and is not coated in any lighter fluid. All lump coal doesn’t burn at the same rate because it is gotten from different trees.
However, a bag of lump charcoal can have a mixture of different types of woods to improve the burn time and create a distinctive flavor.
This type of fuel is perfect for hot and fast cooking methods due to how hot it gets within minutes. It doesn’t only burns cleaner but enhances the flavor of your dish and burns down rapidly.
Also, it produces fewer sparks depending on the wood type and is well suited for smoking.
What is Briquettes?
Henry Ford popularized briquettes when he produced them in mass in the 1920s. He wanted to get rid of the wood scraps gotten from the production of the bodies of the Model-T assembly line.
Briquette is a type of cooking fuel that is gotten from sawdust and other compressed by-products of woods.
The sawdust is gotten from scrap wood, then mixed with additives before being formed into different shapes and sizes. It comprises additives such as starch, sodium nitrate, borax, and limestone, which are sometimes toxic to the environment.
Although these additives have a drastic effect on the aroma and flavor of the food, they also enhance the burn time and make ignition easier. However, there are pure briquettes without them as well.
The shapes of this kind of fuel affect the burning time. It varies from a complex hexagonal shape to a popular pillow shape. Briquettes are naturally lightweight and burn longer than other coals. Although it takes longer to kindle, it is a suitable option for low and slow cooking.
Lump Charcoal Vs. Briquettes
Lump charcoal and briquettes are two different kinds of cooking fuel that are popularly used in grilling. We will be comparing both sources of fuel to find out their differences.
Size And Shape
Most lump charcoal bags are filled with inconsistent chunks of coal. This often occurs when the bags of lump charcoals are mauled during shipping.
Besides, most manufacturers of lump charcoal sell different bags of lump with various sizes. For example, the bags are labeled XL, large, and small. Some have bigger chunks, while others have smaller pieces.
However, briquettes, on the other hand, are consistent in both shape and size. The uniformity in the size of chunks makes it easier to arrange in the grill.
The heat generated when using lump charcoal is inconsistent but high and will require some mastery to get excellent results. For a char-like steak, grilling on high heat with lump coal is the best option.
Although Lump charcoal is hotter than briquettes, it burns out faster. It will require you to refill the grill at intervals to ensure consistent heating.
Briquettes, on the other hand, burn at a slower pace and retain their temperature longer. It heats consistently but lower and is suitable for direct heating of food.
The burn time of each coal is dependent on the size and how they are placed in the grill. Larger chunks last longer than smaller chunks. Besides, smaller pieces turn into dust or ash quickly, blocking airflow into the grill.
Lump charcoal is made to last for over an hour, depending on the chunk size. It burns faster and is perfect for direct grilling of steaks. Lump charcoal goes as high as 1400 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a shorter burn time.
The maximum temperature a briquette can generate is 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and this prolongs the burn time. It is molded to burn for longer periods and is perfect for smoking.
Type Of Grill
The type of grill in your backyard kitchen is one of the determining factors of cooking fuel to use. Almost all Kamado smokers are designed with limited ash space than other smokers.
And most of its users prefer to make use of lump charcoal because of this factor. That being said, charcoal grills with ample ash space are perfect options for briquettes. In contrast, ceramic grills are compatible with lump charcoal.
Cleaning up the grill after each grilling session can be tedious, especially if you use briquettes because they produce more ashes than lump charcoal.
Lump charcoal generates more smoke and produces less ash when grilling. It burns cleaner and requires less clean up after cooking.
Since briquettes are made from compressed wood, it generates more ash and less smoke.
Even though the price of both fuels varies from brand to brand, lump charcoal cost more. Due to the whole manufacturing process of lump charcoal, it comes at a higher price point when compared to briquettes.
It is also scarce in some regions. Briquettes, on the other hand, are budget-friendly and cost-effective to produce. It is popular and easily accessible in stores.
Lump charcoal is made from pure wood, which has zero additives aside from the hardwood flavor.
The different woods used in making lump charcoal have their unique flavors. Briquettes have their flavor, which tastes bitter except it is without additives.
Without adding additives to briquettes or coating them in lighter fluid, it takes longer to ignite. The different chemicals added to the sawdust during its formation improves its ability to ignite faster.
Once the starch binder on the briquettes goes off, they are not reusable. Lump charcoal ignites faster and is reusable up to five times, depending on the brand.
Lump Charcoal VS. Charcoal Briquettes
Lump charcoal is commonly used as fuel in most BBQ competitions, and most home grillers prefer briquettes.
To a novice, the world of BBQ with its different cooking techniques and fueling tools can be difficult to grasp until after several attempts or through thorough research and intensive grilling classes.
We hope you were able to find answers to the differences between Lump charcoal vs. briquettes.