Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes: The Great Charcoal Debate


Charcoal is an essential ingredient for a successful BBQ or grilling session. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a weekend griller, the type of charcoal you choose can have a significant impact on the flavor of your food and the outcome of your cook. The great charcoal debate is between two popular options, lump charcoal and briquettes. 

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each, and help you determine which one is best for you.

To understand more about these two first let’s understand what Wood Charcoal is!

What is Wood Charcoal?

Wood Charcoal, a form of firewood, is produced by a process known as pyrolysis, in which wood is heated to high temperatures in an oxygen-depleted environment. 

Water, methane, and tar are just a few of the volatile substances that are turned into vapor during this procedure. The wood is subjected to a controlled breakdown into several chemicals, the most abundant of which is carbon. 

Compared to seasoned wood, the end product burns more steadily and cleanly. The weight reduction is significant, too, perhaps in the range of one-third to one-fifth.

This wood charcoal is further made into two distinct forms: Lump Charcoal & Briquette. 

What is Lump Charcoal?

Lump charcoal is basically carbonized wood. Compared to briquette, it is the more "traditional" barbeque fuel choice. Charcoal briquettes, on the other hand, are made of charcoal and additives. 

This kind of charcoal is produced from the wood pieces like branches, sawmills, unprocessed limbs, etc. This wood is then fired in an oxygen-depleted, confined space like a kiln. The absence of oxygen prevents the wood from igniting and burning to ashes. 

But there's an issue with Lump charcoal. The primary issue with this charcoal is the quality of the wood that's used in its production. Branches, logs, and sawdust that haven't been treated in any way are all forms of raw wood that are free of any contaminants. 

Also, many times, the flooring remnants could include chemicals from the stain or finish. 

Lump Charcoal Pros

  • Natural and Chemical-Free: Lump charcoal is made from natural hardwood, with no added chemicals or fillers. This results in a purer flavor that compliments the taste of your food, rather than overpowering it.

  • Burns Hot and Long: Lump charcoal is known for its ability to burn hot and long, making it ideal for high-heat cooking, such as searing steaks for grilling burgers.

  • Great for Smokers: For those who enjoy smoking meat, lump charcoal is an excellent option. Its natural composition provides a consistent heat source, and its chemical-free nature ensures that your food retains its natural flavor.


Lump Charcoal Cons 

  • Price: Lump charcoal is typically more expensive than briquettes, making it a more cost-prohibitive option for some people.
  • Inconsistent Burn: One of the biggest disadvantages of lump charcoal is its inconsistent burn. This can make it challenging to control the temperature, particularly for those who are new to grilling or smoking.
  • Hard to Find: Some areas may not carry lump charcoal, making it challenging to find in stores or online.


What are Charcoal Briquettes?

Charcoal briquettes are created from a mix of several substances. 

Materials like wood chips, sawdust, and mineral char (a source of heat) are all examples of such materials (help with ignition). To make a briquette, these ingredients are crushed together in a mold. 

Some chemical additives are also added to this mixture. These chemical ingredients help in shaping, lighting, and regulating burn times, among other things. 

Some of the common additives used are limestone, borax, paraffin, starch, sodium nitrate, and petroleum solvents. 

There are widely available all-natural options, such as those produced from hardwoods bound together with cornstarch, but they cost about the same as lump charcoal.


Briquette Pros

  • Affordable: Briquettes are typically much more affordable than lump charcoal, making them an accessible option for people on a budget.
  • Consistent Burn: Unlike lump charcoal, briquettes have a consistent burn, which makes it easier to control the temperature when cooking.
  • Available in Stores: Briquettes are widely available in stores and online, making them easy to find and purchase.


Briquette Cons

  • Chemical Additives: Briquettes are made from a mixture of charcoal and various other additives, such as sawdust, binders, and fillers. These chemicals can affect the flavor of your food, particularly when cooking at high heat.
  • Limited to Low and Slow Cooking: Briquettes are not ideal for high-heat cooking, as they are designed to burn low and slow. If you’re looking to sear steaks or grill burgers, briquettes may not be the best choice.
  • Shorter Burn Time: Briquettes typically burn for a shorter period than lump charcoal, meaning you may need to purchase more for a single cookout.


Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes for Cooking and Grilling


Lump Charcoal for Cooking and Grilling

Lump charcoal is a great option for high-heat cooking and grilling, as it burns hot and long. 

If you’re looking to sear steaks, grill burgers, or cook other dishes that require high heat, lump charcoal is an excellent choice. 

Its natural composition and chemical-free nature make it ideal for those who are looking for a purer flavor that compliments the taste of their food.


Briquettes for Cooking and Grilling

Briquettes are designed to burn low and slow, making them ideal for low and slow cooking techniques such as smoking and barbecuing. 

This makes them a popular choice for many grill enthusiasts and barbecue pitmasters. 

However, there are pros and cons to both briquettes and lump charcoal that need to be considered before making a choice.


The Great Charcoal Debate

There is a great debate among grill and barbecue enthusiasts about whether briquettes or lump charcoal is the best choice for cooking. 

Both have their pros and cons, and the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference and the type of cooking you plan to do.

For low and slow cooking techniques such as smoking, briquettes are a great choice due to their consistent burn and low-heat output. 

However, if you are looking for high-heat cooking and an authentic, natural flavor, lump charcoal may be a better choice.


Tips for Choosing the Right Charcoal

When choosing between briquettes and lump charcoal, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • Firstly, consider the type of cooking you plan to do and whether you need a consistent low-heat output or a hot, fast burn.
  • Secondly, consider the flavor of your food and whether you want an authentic, natural flavor or a flavor that is influenced by additives and binders.
  • Finally, consider your budget and whether you are willing to spend more for the natural flavor and faster burn of lump charcoal, or if you would prefer the budget-friendly and consistent burn of briquettes.


Try Coco BBQ: One of the Best Charcoal Brands in the Market

Coco BBQ has one of the best charcoal briquettes. Our product is made out of coconut shells which makes it extremely eco-friendly. 

For our BBQ briquettes, we use organic, sustainably sourced coconut shells that have been compressed to remove excess waste and save trees. 

Coconut Charcoal is not only a green product, but it also burns hotter & longer than traditional ones making it a well-balanced medium between too much smoke & not enough, just right! 

You'll only need 1 briquet sleeve per grilling session (or half a bag of charcoal) compared to other brands.

Try our coconut charcoal briquettes today and taste the difference yourself!



In conclusion, the lump charcoal vs briquettes debate is a long-standing one in the grilling and barbecue community. 

Both have their pros and cons, and the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference and the type of cooking you plan to do. 

Whether you choose briquettes or lump charcoal, be sure to consider the flavor, heat output, and budget when making your decision.  

Coco BBQ

Coco BBQ