Charcoal vs. Wood for Grilling: Which Is Healthier?
Tossing your veggies and steaks on the grill rather that settling for the stove comes with several perks. However, the desirable smoky flavor for which grillers strive doesn’t come without its own considerations. When you’re comparing charcoal versus wood for grilling and which is healthier, there are a few different factors to consider. Here we explore the personal and environmental health effects of both charcoal and wood grilling as well as why a certain type of briquettes makes the best option out of them all.
Pros of Grilling with Charcoal
You can easily manipulate the placement of lump charcoal in your grill to control its indirect and direct heat. Controlling your grill’s heat level makes grilling times more predictable.
Charcoal is also easy to find and afford. You can purchase bags of charcoal for less than $20 at nearly any grocery or home improvement store.
Cons of Grilling with Charcoal
HCAs, PAHs, NPAHs
When you’re grilling meat, fat tends to melt off and into the flame. Fire turns the fat into heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Charcoal also produces nitrogen-PAHs (NPAHs). HCAs, PAHs, and NPAHs are carcinogens that are linked to an increased risk of cancer, and they fuse back into the meat as you grill.
Pros of Grilling with Wood
Now we’ll look at the pros and cons of grilling with wood to properly compare charcoal versus wood for grilling and determine which is healthier.
By cooking with different woods, you can establish different flavors in your grilled foods. From hickory and pecan to oak, each wood type has its own unique flavor contributions.
Lack of Additives
Many bags of charcoal include an array of chemical additives to manipulate burn time or flavor. Wood pellets are usually devoid of these harsh additives, making them less hazardous to grill with.
Cons of Grilling with Wood
It’s More Challenging
Grilling with wood is no easy feat. Smoke and direct or indirect heat are harder to control, making thoroughly cooked meats and ideal flavors a challenge to acquire.
The Newer Alternative for Healthy Grilling
Coconut shell charcoal has gained popularity among serious and novice grillers alike because of its considerable health advantages. Coconut shell charcoal is all-natural, creating a cleaner, odorless, sparkless, and smokeless burn. The lack of sparks and smoke make coconut charcoal ideal for both backyard grill sessions and in-kitchen cookouts. Since they minimize the risk of kitchen fires and carbon accumulation, restaurant charcoal briquettes made of coconut shells have become popular options for restaurants that want to reduce kitchen liabilities.
Because they aren’t derived from trees and last up to three times longer than lump coals, coconut shell briquettes are also the eco-friendliest option. If you want to reduce your carbon emissions as well as your exposure to hazardous carcinogens, Zenfiyah recommends making the switch to coconut charcoal.