Know Different Types of Charcoal to Use for Grilling Needs

charcoalTo some people, charcoal is just charcoal, when it is time to grill, they run to the store and grab the first one that they see. It makes no difference whatsoever to them. I have to admit that I used to be one of those people, this is until one day I had the worst tasting steak that I had in my entire life and started questioning a lot of things. I later realized that the charcoal that I used was manufactured stronger chemicals and thus it caused my food to smell like chemicals. You can only imagine the disappointment I had when I realized how negligent I have been over the years.

There many different types of charcoal to use, they come from different manufacturers and brands, a variety of sizes, they burn different and believe it or not, offer different heat intensity. So you have to have not only clean charcoal but one that will fit the purpose and grill the way you want your food to come out. There is nothing more frustrating like having to cook a large number of people and have the charcoals run out faster than you are cooking. Or being in the middle of nowhere on a camping trip and run out of charcoal.

The Selection

Below is a list of the different types of charcoals, their uses, pros, and cons. This will help you make an informed decision next time to have a barbecue over at your house or when you have taken your grill along for an outdoor trip. We made an extensive research on various types of charcoals available across the country. We also made a point to find out what grilling expert usually use, how they choose the charcoal and for what they use it for. There are various publications and resources available on various types charcoal, we utilized them to read more and educate ourselves before we wrote this for you. We ended up with a different recommendation when we asked about the best products, but they all agreed on one thing, the charcoal should always be consistent.

Kindly note that charcoals listed below have been tested by experts, we are providing you with findings from those research. They took their time to:

  • Measure burn time
  • Heat consistency
  • Amount of ash produced

Lump Wood

This is charred pure hardwood pieces, it is the original charcoal and it is pure wood. They are made from different hardwood, therefore they come in various forms and sizes. Pros are that they offer one of the most intense cooking flavors because of the intense heat and smoke because it is made from real hardwood. Cons are that they burn faster, lose heat faster and compared to briquettes, they are expensive.

Fofo Premium Hardwood Charcoal

This is an all-natural charcoal made from Central American hardwoods. It is produced from tree trimmings and trees that have been marked for removal, this means that it is more sustainably produced and ensures reforestation. Pros are that it lasts longer. Cons are that it burns very quickly and very hot at the beginning.

Japanese Binchotan

This hardwood charcoal is made from little pieces of high-carbon, kiln-dried oak magic burns incredibly cleanly. Pros are that it burns very hot and lasts longer. Cons are that is more expensive.


These are different from lump wood because they are made from chips of woods and some other chemicals to make them light faster. Unlike lump wood, they do not make a lot of ash when you use them, they are also cheaper and easier to find.

Pressed Charcoal Briquettes with Smoking Woods

It is manufactured with mesquite, hickory or other types of smoking woods flakes. Your charcoal grill or barbecue will come out with a flavor of smoking woods. Pros are that it adds a more wood smoke flavor, and it is not expensive. Cons are that it is bound by chemicals.

Pressed Charcoal Briquettes

This is one of the most common ones found in almost every store. They are made from organic material such as seeds and pits as well as small pieces of wood. The Pressed Charcoal Briquettes are easily accessible and normally cheap. Pros are that they light easily, burn for a long time, giving off intense heat. Cons are that they contain chemical additives and are not made from real hardwood firewood.

Instant Charcoal Briquettes

This is a much light able version on the above charcoal. It has fluid chemicals which make lighting a much easier process without the use of charcoal starters. Pros it is easy to find and use. Cons are that it has more added chemicals than the Pressed Charcoal Briquettes.

Where to find it

There are many online stores which offer many different types of charcoals, you can order and have it delivered to your house. You can find charcoals at any supermarket, hardware store, home supply store, local shops or even small grocery stores. If you want specific brands, you can try at grill shops near you, they offer a wide variety of hardwood charcoals.

Wrap Up

All charcoal is basically carbon at the end of the day and not all hardwood is the same. It is recommended that you use lump charcoal for cooking steaks, burgers, fish and other quick foods. You can use the briquettes for slow cooking meats such as pork, beef brisket, and ribs. If you can afford to buy lump wood then it is perfectly fine and if you are on a budget, you can go for the briquettes.

You can alternate between lump wood and briquettes depending on what you want to grill if you want, or you can stick to just one type of charcoal. There has been a lot of research over the years on which ones to use, a lot of brands have gone in and out popularity and manufacturers have improved their products. It is fairly easy to find charcoal, this is probably because grilling is such a common activity and barbecues and cookouts have been known to bring people together for a long time.

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