When it comes to outdoor grilling and smoking, there are a variety of fuel options to choose from. However, one option that stands out for its many benefits is lump charcoal. Made from natural hardwood without any additives or chemicals, lump charcoal offers a more authentic and flavorful cooking experience. We will discuss the benefits of using lump charcoal and why it holds many advantages over charcoal briquettes.

Natural and Chemical-Free

One of the biggest advantages of using lump charcoal is that it is made from 100% natural hardwood. This means that there are no added chemicals or additives, making it a healthier and more natural option compared to other types of fuel like charcoal briquettes

Overview of Charcoal Briquettes

Briquettes are made from sawdust and leftover wood that is burned slowly without oxygen to remove natural chemicals, sap and moisture. The wood is burned down with additives used to hold the materials together to manufacture small roundish-squarish blocks of charcoal that make them easier to stack. They are sometimes made using chemicals or lighter fluids to them easier to light. You might smell the additives while you cook or you might even taste it in lighter foods like chicken or fish.

Briquette Pros

  • Easier to maintain a steady temperature for a longer amount of time than lump
  • Usually cheaper than lump
  • Burns longer than lump

Briquette Cons

  • Produces lots of ash
  • Chemical smell
  • Does not get as hot as lump
  • Lights slower than lump

In case you missed it, I made a video comparing five (5) briquette brands.

You can watch the briquette video here.

Overview of Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal is made by slowly burning pieces of wood without oxygen until all of the natural chemicals, sap, and moisture are removed from the wood. What’s left after the burn are pieces of lump charcoal comprised primarily of carbon that leaves very little ash. Lump charcoal burns hotter and lights faster than briquettes. It contains no fillers or additives which makes it one of the cleanest ways to barbecue. ‘

Lump Pros

  • All natural without any additives
  • Little ash production
  • Burns hotter than briquettes so you do need to manage and make adjustments to the vents on your smoker as needed
  • Lights faster than briquettes

Lump Cons

  • Lump pieces are uneven making them difficult to stack uniformly
  • Usually more expensive than briquettes
  • Burns out faster than briquettes

Why I Prefer Lump Charcoal!

One of the things that I love most about barbecue is that it is slow-cooked food over a live fire similar to how food was cooked many centuries ago. Back then, you can rest assured that the meats were cooked without any additives, lighter fluids, or other chemicals to “enhance” flavors or to speed up the process.

Lump charcoal is based 100% on natural hardwood without any of the so-called enhancements. I prefer to taste the meat as it was intended with smoked flavors and spices. Adding barbecue sauce is about as far as I’ll go in terms of adding more flavor.

Don’t get me wrong, charcoal briquettes have their place and I do use them from time to time but I will always prefer to use natural hardwood!

Get your popcorn ready because I made a 45-minute video comparing eight (8) lump charcoal brands. I normally don’t make videos that long but I wanted to give the subject matter the time that it deserved.

Let me know your thoughts about the lump versus briquettes debate.

Do you have a strong preference for one over the other?

What is your favorite brand of lump charcoal?

What is your favorite brand of charcoal briquettes?