When it comes to charcoal, there are two main types: Lump and Briquettes.Though both types of charcoal have their distinct features, there are also subtle differences that all barbeque enthusiasts should know.
In this guide, we compare these two charcoals and when is the best time to use one or the other. So, to learn which one is the best for your next BBQ session, keep on reading!
Lump Charcoal Vs Briquettes
Lump charcoal differs from briquettes primarily in their raw materials. While lump charcoal is 100% hardwood and has no additive, briquettes are made from compressed sawdust that often contains fillers and binders to hold their uniform shape. For most people, briquettes are the better choice as they’re cheaper, much easier to light, and provide more even heating.
For a more detailed comparison between these two charcoals, and which one might be best for you, let’s find out below!
What’s Better Lump Charcoal Or Briquettes?
Lump charcoal and briquettes have their distinct features, but depending on the situation one is better than the other. For instance, lump charcoal is better than briquettes for high heat searing and grilling, where you want to add smoky flavor. But if you’re into low and slow cooking, then briquettes are the best choice.
Here’s a quick comparison of lump charcoal vs. briquettes:
|LUMP CHARCOAL||CHARCOAL BRIQUETTES|
|Do not contain any additive (100% pure)||It contains additives and fillers|
|It may reach a hotter temperature||It has a steady temperature|
|It burns faster||It burns longer|
|Less ash production||Higher ash production|
|Irregular pieces of wood||Uniform size|
|Easier to light||Needs charcoal lighting fluid to light up|
Manufacturing Process: Lump Charcoal vs. Briquettes
Lump charcoal is made by burning the wood slowly without oxygen until the sap, moisture, and natural chemicals have dissipated.
Additionally, it uses hardwood pieces compressed together without using any binders, giving natural and pure charcoal.
On the other hand, briquettes are composed of leftover wood and sawdust that are burned slowly without much oxygen to remove sap and moisture.
In addition, briquettes are comprised of additives that bind the charcoal together, giving it a uniform shape. In most cases, the additives used here are often food-safe, such as starch and molasses.
Burning Time and Temperature: Lump Charcoal vs. Briquettes
Lump charcoal is designed to burn hot and fast for a short period, usually, an hour, while reaching a temperature of 760°C (approximately 1400°F). Meanwhile, briquettes are made to burn for hours, and they are perfect for low and slow cooking.
They have a steady temperature of around 426 to 538°C (800 to 1000°F), which means you don’t have to monitor it to add more charcoal because it slowly burns.
Depending on what you’re cooking, the burning temperature of lump charcoal and briquettes could be an advantage or something you have to work for.
Ash Production: Lump Charcoal vs. Briquettes
Both lump charcoal and briquettes produce ash when burned; however, there is a slight difference between them. Lump charcoal produces a less amount of ash than briquettes because it does not contain any fillers or additives.
Ease of lighting
In general, briquettes are more manageable to light than lump charcoal because of the additive component. In fact, most lump charcoal requires lighting fluid to light up. However, some grillers claim that briquette crystals are easier to light up than lump charcoal. They are made with additives, which helps them get started quickly.
Longevity: Lump charcoal vs. Briquettes
Lump charcoal burns faster, so you have to add more very often for a continuous burn. It can get expensive because you need to buy many bags of lump coal if you are planning for all-day grilling.
On the other hand, briquettes burn longer and more steadily. They are perfect for your grilling needs on most occasions without monitoring if you need to add more. They are suitable for afternoon session grilling because they produce a steady temperature for a more extended period.
Price: Lump charcoal vs. Briquettes
Lump charcoal is more expensive than briquettes, and several factors can contribute to its higher cost. For instance, lump charcoal is labor-intensive to produce, has expensive raw materials, and has limited availability.
Briquettes are like the fast food of charcoal because they are cheap and can be commonly found in petrol stations and supermarkets.
Appearance: Lump charcoal vs. Briquettes
Lump charcoal is made from irregular pieces of wood, so it produces inconsistent fire. On the other hand, briquettes have additives to hold the materials together to achieve a uniform shape, usually roundish-square. Because of this, they are easier to stack and often provide much more even heating.
Flavour: Lump charcoal vs. Briquettes
Lump charcoal produces a better flavor, especially if made from a specific hardwood, such as oak, hickory, maple, and pecan. The wood flavor from briquettes can be less distinctive, and some cheaper variants may impart a solid chemical aroma.
Performance: Lump charcoal vs. Briquettes
Lump charcoal burns hot and fast, making it ideal for direct grilling and searing. It’s also responsive to oxygen, making it easier to control the fire’s temperature if your grill comes with adjustable air vents.
Meanwhile, briquettes burn consistently while maintaining a steady temperature over a more extended period, making them ideal for the snake method and other smoking methods.
Though both types of charcoal perform well on their own, if you want to impress your guests, use lump charcoal in your grilling adventures because it’s the most preferred by chefs.
Pros and cons: Lump charcoal vs. Briquettes
Lump Charcoal Pros:
- It lights quickly
- It burns hotter
- It can add a smoky flavor
- Has little ash production
- Made from all-natural materials
Lump Charcoal Cons:
- It is more expensive than briquettes
- It has a limited supply
- It produces inconsistent temperature
- It produces steady and consistent temperature over long periods
- It burns longer
- It is more affordable
- It is commonly found everywhere
- Cheaper variants may impart a chemical smell and taste because of additives
- It produces more ash
Lump charcoal is better than briquettes in cooking, grilling, or barbecuing. It is highly recommended for smokers because it produces cleaner smoke and works more efficiently than briquette charcoals.
However, briquettes are easier to find anywhere, and they produce a longer and steady burn, making them perfect for anyone that likes to grill regularly.
When comparing lump charcoal vs. briquettes, consider all the factors involved. They are both popular options for grilling and smoking Each of them has its unique characteristics. For instance, briquettes tend to last longer and have a steadier temperature, while lump charcoal burns faster and hotter and imparts a smokier flavor to food.
Ultimately, the best choice of charcoal will depend on your needs and preferences. If you have already tried grilling with both lump charcoal and briquettes, what are your thoughts?