Charcoal Briquettes or Lump Charcoal?
This article is not talking about cooking with gas and cooking with charcoal. I’m also not going to discuss the differences between grilling and barbecuing. What I really want to talk about is charcoal. More specifically, charcoal briquettes vs. lump charcoal.
Back in the day, my father always used charcoal briquettes, and for years I did the same. But about two years ago, my BBQ buddy convinced me to make the switch over to lump charcoal. And yes I did, until I actually did the research to write this. So, since doing a little research, I’m back to my old fondness of briquette charcoal. But I’ll give you the information so you can decide for yourself.
What’s the Difference?
Briquettes are produced by cutting scraps of wood into identical shapes and sizes. These pieces are then tossed into a a steel barrel oven for roasting. The resulting char produced is then mixed in with other materials to create the charcoal. Briquettes are then shaped, packaged, and commercially sold.
Lump charcoal pieces are produced in the same way. However, they are sold purely as natural hardwood products without any extra ingredients added. Instead of being uniformly cut and molded, lump charcoal pieces tend to vary in shape and size.
A lot of people are hesitant to buy briquette charcoal because of the extra ingredients that manufactures add to the individual pieces. In truth, manufactures are simply adding natural products to hold the charcoal together and enhance its combustibility on the grill.
- Wood char: a wood by-product that is used as a heat source.
- Mineral char: a form of coal also used as a heat source
- Mineral carbon: an almost pure-carbon coal that helps heat up the briquette
- Starch: holds the briquette together on the grill
- Sodium nitrate: used as a starter for briquettes
- Sawdust: also a starter
None of these added ingredients will cause you any harm. So, don’t be deterred from buying briquette charcoal when you hear it contains “additives.”