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Briquettes vs. Lump Charcoal: What Is the Difference?

Updated: Dec 27, 2021


Close Up of Burnig Charcoal

One of the most entertaining ways to cook fresh food is to firing up the grill. However, before starting your grill, you need to decide what material to use for burning.

People use two main types of materials when grilling: lump charcoal and briquettes. This guide will illuminate the differences between briquettes versus lump charcoal.


The Benefits and Disadvantages of Lump Charcoal

Charcoal contains a high amount of carbon because it’s essentially just carbonized wood. It burns more quickly and at a higher temperature than briquettes, requiring close monitoring due to how hot it gets. If you need material for a quick burning session, lump charcoal is ideal because it lights quickly and keeps burning steadily. It also produces an abundance of smoke, so if that suits your fancy, you can use it for flavor.


Unfortunately, some pieces of carbon don’t carbonize fully. This means that pieces can vary in size, leading to inconsistent burning temperatures, cooking times, and burning ability per bag. Also, since charcoal cooks quickly, you need to buy more of it for longer grilling sessions. In addition, charcoal costs more than briquettes, and it breaks down easily into dust, which will put out your flame.


The Pros and Cons of Briquettes

Briquettes have a few unique traits that distinguish them from lump charcoal. First, companies manufacture them out of all sorts of materials, from wood to coconut shells. They’re easier to light, and they control the burn better than lump charcoal. The main reason why people buy briquettes is that they have more endurance and that they burn at lower temperatures than lump charcoal does. This makes them the perfect material for slowly smoking your food with low amounts of smoke. They also come in a few different shapes, such as hexagonal charcoal briquettes, making them easier to organize.


However, briquettes are often more expensive than lump charcoal. Luckily, if you want to take matters into your own hands, you can make briquettes yourself from scratch, though the final outcome might not be as professional as a product made by a company.


Finding the Material That Suits Your Needs Best

Overall, both lump charcoal and briquettes can be self igniting and chemical free if you’re willing to look for the right type. However, lump charcoal’s irregular shape leads to mixed results, while briquettes lack the smoke flavor that lump charcoal offers. Nonetheless, you should now be able to answer the question, briquettes vs. lump charcoal: What is the difference?

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