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Grilling is a quintessential American pastime. We all love to enjoy the warm summer evenings as we cook up some delicious food on the grill, and before you know it, it’ll be the Fourth of July all over again! Now is a good time for you to be thinking about getting your grills ready for use.
So, as you probably know, there are a few things that you can’t do without when it comes to grilling. One of those is the charcoal you will be using to cook your food with. You have many options for what kind of charcoal you want to use, but one stand-out type is lump charcoal. Lump charcoal burns cleaner than other types of charcoal and has fewer impurities in it which means your food will taste better!
But how do you know if lump charcoal is right for you?
This article answers all these questions and more so that by the end, there’s no question on what type of lump coal to buy!
My Top Picks
- Rockwood Premium All-Natural Lump Charcoal
- Kamado Joe KJ-Char
- Big Green Egg Oak and Hickory Lump Charcoal
What is lump charcoal?
Lump charcoal is simply charcoal in its most natural form with the majority of impurities removed. It’s made of 100% hardwood by burning the wood in a low oxygen environment. This process produces charcoal that doesn’t have any of the chemicals or fillers that other types of charcoal have.
Lump coal burns hotter than briquettes which are made from sawdust compressed together. Plus, because there are no additives, lump charcoal burns much cleaner than other types which means your food will taste better!
What makes lump charcoal so good for grilling?
The high heat that lump coal produces is one of the main reasons it’s such a great choice for grilling. The intense heat sears in the juices and flavors of whatever you’re cooking, giving you an amazing end product. Lump charcoal also lights easily which is another bonus when it comes to grilling.
Lump coal is also great for indirect grilling which is a technique where you cook the food slowly over low heat. This method prevents flare-ups and gives your food that perfect grilled taste!
How does lump charcoal work in a grill?
Lump charcoal can be used in any conventional grill. You simply place a few pieces of lump coal on top of the grate and light it with either lighter fluid or a fire starter stick. These sticks are what will help your charcoal catch easily, but you’ll still need to wait between 10-20 minutes for them to burn down until they’re ready to cook over.
What are the different types of charcoal for grilling (besides lump charcoal)?
But, of course, besides lump charcoal, there are many other types of charcoal to choose from. Let’s take a look at the most popular ones:
Charcoal briquettes are made from sawdust that’s been compressed together. This makes them easy to light and is why they’re the most popular choice for grilling, but they have a few downsides.
Charcoal briquettes don’t burn as hot as lump coal because of all the extra additives like chemicals and fillers in them. They also produce more ash and don’t burn as cleanly.
Nonetheless, these are popular types of coal to use for grilling. They are easier to light, but also less flavorful than other types of charcoal because they have chemicals in them that affect the flavor when cooking.
These are similar to charcoal briquettes but are made with 100% hardwood. They burn a little slower than regular briquettes but give food a more smoky flavor. Hardwood briquettes are also less likely to spark than other types of charcoal.
Binchotan is a type of charcoal made from oak or beech. It’s expensive but burns very hot and lasts for a long time. It’s a good choice for cooking high-end dishes as it will do the best job of searing in those flavors.
Coconut shell charcoal
This is another high-quality, all-natural charcoal that comes in the form of small pieces. It has a subtle flavor and smokes very little. Coconut shell is becoming very popular for use in grills because it’s so versatile, but you will pay a higher price at the store.
The advantages of lump charcoal
So, what are some of the advantages of lump charcoal over some of the other types that we’ve mentioned above?
Well, for one, lump coal has a high heat which sears in flavors better than other charcoal and it produces less smoke while cooking which means your meat won’t taste like lighter fluid. This gives you a much cleaner flavor that everyone will love! Lump coal also lights easily without needing chemicals to help it start and it lasts longer than other charcoal which means you can cook more for less money.
The disadvantages of lump charcoal
However, it also has some disadvantages. For example, lump coal is more expensive than other types of charcoal and it can be difficult to find in some areas. It also doesn’t burn as evenly as briquettes so you may need to adjust your cooking times a bit.
What should you look for in lump charcoal?
If you’re thinking of purchasing lump charcoal for your grill, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First of all, make sure that the lump coal is 100% natural with no fillers or additives. You’ll also want to look at the size of the lumps – they should be large so that they’re easy to work with, and there shouldn’t be a lot of dust or debris in the bag. Finally, you’ll want to check the price – as we mentioned earlier, lump coal can be a bit more expensive than other types of charcoal.
But don’t let that deter you! The advantages of using lump charcoal outweigh the disadvantages and it’s well worth the extra money to get those amazing grilled flavors.
So, these are some of the most popular things to look for in lump charcoal:
The size of the charcoal is important. When it comes to lump charcoal, the larger the lumps, the better. This is because larger lumps of charcoal burn both hotter and longer than smaller ones. It’s also better for grilling because the larger lumps are easier to work with, especially when you’re cooking something like steak or chicken which requires more precise heat control than things like burgers and hotdogs.
What is it made from?
Be sure to check the ingredients of the lump coal. If you’re looking for high-quality lump charcoal, make sure that it doesn’t contain any chemicals or filler materials like clay, sawdust, etc. Pure lump charcoal should be made from 100% hardwood. It will burn longer and produce less smoke than charcoal made with other materials.
No excessive sparking
Excessive sparking in lump charcoal is a sign that it’s been made with a higher percentage of filler. This is bad for a couple of reasons: first, you run the risk of starting an accidental fire outside or near your house if sparks are flying everywhere. Secondly, the chemicals in the charcoal will make your food taste off and less flavorful than normal lump coal which can ruin any barbecuing experience you were hoping for.
What is in the bag?
Next, consider what’s in the bag. If the bottom is coated with a large amount of ash, this is another sign that it has too much filler. Plus, ash can clog up your grill and cause all kinds of problems. You’ll want to look for lump charcoal that contains only the fine powdery residue left over after burning off all the impurities in hardwood sawdust.
How is it sourced?
Ethically sourced wood is also important. The best lump charcoal comes from sustainable forests that are harvested in a way to protect both the environment and the wildlife living there so be sure you choose one of these if possible! Using charcoal from sources that are effectively destroying rainforests is not only terrible for the environment but also shows that the company you’re buying from is not ethical. Who knows what else they’ve done to their charcoal.
Make sure to check for quality assurance. Lump coal can sometimes come with other little surprises like bugs or small rocks which should not end up on your dinner table! Look for brands that have a good quality control process in place.
Type of wood
Next, be sure to choose lump coal with the right type of wood. Different types of wood burn hotter or slower than others so if you’re cooking something that requires a specific temperature range, you’ll want to make sure the charcoal is appropriate for what you need it for.
And finally, the price! Lump coal is not always the cheapest option and it can be difficult to find in some areas so you’ll need to weigh all of these factors before making your purchase. But as we mentioned earlier, the advantages of using lump charcoal outweigh the disadvantages and it’s well worth the extra money to get those amazing grilled flavors.
Lump charcoal grilling best use tips
So, once you know exactly what to look for in lump charcoal, you’ll be ready to choose the best one for your grilling needs. While there are a lot of options out there, here are some simple tips about how to find great lump coal:
Store your charcoal properly
If you’re not using your charcoal right away, make sure to store it correctly. Moisture will make the charcoal less efficient and storing it somewhere that’s hot could start a fire. When it comes to grilling, it’s best to store your lump charcoal in a place that’s cool and dry until you’re ready to use it. It’s even better to store the bag’s unused portion in a sealed container rather than leaving it open in the garage to absorb moisture.
As mentioned, the size of the chunks of charcoal also makes a difference. The larger the charcoal pieces, the longer and more intense they will burn. Make a list of the chunks’ consistency from each bag as you try new brands, and be sure that the bags are mainly charcoal over dust.
Some mixed hardwood blends are amazing
Most commercial lump is composed of a combination of hardwoods that are readily obtainable by the manufacturer. This means that you may find flavors like hickory, cherry, maple, and applewood in your lump coal. Not all of these are great for grilling but some mixed hardwood blends will give your food a smoky flavor with just a hint of nuttiness which can be amazing!
As an example, charcoal is made from hardwoods that are grown in the southern United States. This includes about 40 different types of hardwood trees. You’ll find blends of hardwood in almost every bag sold in the United States, as it’s found in at least 21 different species of oak.
The burning temperature varies by wood type
Another thing to bear in mind is that the burning temperature of the wood in lump charcoal also varies. This is due to the different compounds that are released when each type of wood is burned. For example, oak burns at a lower temperature than maple, hickory, or pecan. If you’re looking for a low and slow cook, then oak would be a good choice for your charcoal. But, if you’re looking for high heat to quickly sear your meat, then one of the other woods would be a better option.
Always go for sustainably sourced wood
Finally, always, ALWAYS go for sustainably-sourced wood. This means that the wood is sourced from plantations or sustainable sources, rather than being harvested illegally which could lead to deforestation and habitat loss for wildlife. We must support our planet and take care of the forests, so be sure to find sustainable lump charcoal for your grilling needs.
Our top lump charcoal for grilling recommendations
This premium lump charcoal by Rockwood is easily one of the best lump charcoal for grilling on this list. It burns hot, is easy to light, and produces very little ash.
The smoke is mild and would work well with anything, making it a great all-rounder. You can use this charcoal to cook pretty much anything, from steaks to chicken, and it will always come out tasting great.
Rockwood uses “premium Missouri oak, hickory, and maple” sourced solely from Missouri for this charcoal, making it environmentally friendly too. This does lead to somewhat inconsistent sizes and shapes, but it typically arrives with very little in the way of shrapnel and dust.
Admittedly, this type of lump charcoal is not the cheapest on this list, but it’s a solid performer.
- Great all-rounder charcoal and is very easy to light
- Made from locally sourced premium Missouri oak, hickory, and maple trees
- A little pricey
- Some inconsistency with shapes
KamadoJoe produces some of the best lump charcoal on the market. This 20-pound bag is of great value, and will easily fuel several cookouts.
The 100% natural lump charcoal is made with a blend of hardwoods, including the famous quebracho wood. It burns for up to 18 hours and can be reused up to three times – giving you huge value for money. This means that you can buy a smaller bag while getting more use out of the contents.
If you need the perfect fuel for your Kamado Joe grill, this is arguably the best lump charcoal for the purpose. The only minor complaint we could find was about the fairly small pieces of charcoal. However, if you’re looking for great all-around lump charcoal for your Kamado Joe grill, this is a great choice.
- 100% natural charcoal made from a blend of hardwoods
- Reusable charcoal up to 3 times gives you even more value for money
- Can burn for up to 18 hours
- Some complaints of smaller pieces of charcoal
This premium lump charcoal is made from oak and hickory and made by Big Green Egg, a fairly reputable name in the charcoal industry. So, what do users think of it?
The main selling point of this charcoal is that it’s made entirely of carbonized wood – no fillers or nasty additives here. You also don’t get any petroleum products, which is a big plus and the oak and hickory hardwoods burn clean and produce a nice flavor.
Most user reviews are extremely positive, but there are a few gripes about quality control issues. However, if you’re looking for all-natural, high-quality lump charcoal, then this Big Green Egg Oak and Hickory Lump Charcoal is a great option.
- Made entirely of carbonized, high-quality oak and hickory
- No additives, fillers, or petroleum
- Clean burning and produce a nice flavor
- Some issues with quality control
Made by Jealous Devil, this Paraguayan hardwood lump charcoal is one of the best on the market. It puts out a ton of heat (up to 1172 °F or 640 °C) and doesn’t have any popping or sparks as you get with other hardwoods.
It’s completely natural, free of hazardous chemicals of any type, and you can expect a high-quality product from this company.
It has also earned a reputation for having large lumps that are rarely broken apart, and only a little bit of debris and dust following delivery. This is because the source of wood used in Jealous Devil charcoal has dense trees, making it more protected during transit with less breakage or less than many other brands.
- No popping or sparking compared to other brands
- Completely natural and free from chemicals
- Large lumps and very little debris
- Has a rather strong smell when it burns
Last but not least, this high-quality entry from FOGO is another great choice if you’re looking for the best lump charcoal. It burns hotter than other brands, giving your food a nice grilling effect with lots of smoky flavors.
You don’t have to worry about any off odors or flavors because it is made from 100% hardwood meaning no chemicals are used in processing this product. The pieces are also pretty big, so you won’t have to deal with too much dust on your hands, or too tiny pieces clogging up your grill.
At 17.60 pounds, this lump charcoal is a great option if you have limited storage space. Plus, even though it is a bit more expensive than other brands on the market, many users agree that this lump charcoal can be worth its price because of how well it burns and how long it will last for grilling purposes.
- It burns hotter than some other brands
- Only one ingredient which is all-natural hardwood
- The bag contains large pieces of charcoal
- A little pricey
- There were a few complaints about the flavor
What criteria did we use to come up with these selections?
To select the best lump charcoal for grilling that we’ve listed above, we took a few things into account.
First, we looked at how well the charcoal burned. This was an important factor because if the charcoal doesn’t burn evenly or if it has a lot of sparks, your food will likely taste bad.
Then, we looked at the type of wood used in production as this can affect both the flavor and smokiness of your food. We also considered the size and shape of the pieces so that you wouldn’t have to deal with a lot of dust on your hands or tiny little shards in between grates.
Lastly, we looked at any off-flavors and odors present because this can lead to bad food no matter how well it burns.
We also looked at user reviews to get an idea of how people felt about these brands and selected those that had the most positive feedback.
The top lump charcoal for grilling Q and A:
Answer: The hottest lump charcoal is typically made with hardwoods, such as oak and hickory. Plus, you’ll generally find that the larger pieces of charcoal you have, the longer and hotter they’ll burn.
Answer: Yes, lump charcoal is great for grilling! It provides a nice, even heat that will give your food a smoky flavor and delicious grill marks.
Answer: Some of the best hardwoods to use for making lump charcoal include oak, hickory, maple, and quebracho wood.
Answer: Lump charcoal is made of small, dense pieces that are created when wood burns down. It’s an all-natural fuel source for your grill or smoker that typically lasts longer than other fuels used in grilling.
Answer: No, the brand of lump charcoal you use doesn’t matter. However, it is important to make sure that you buy a quality product from a reputable company so that you know you’re getting something that will burn well and taste great.
Answer: Make sure to store your lump charcoal in a cool, dry place. You can also put it in a sealed container or bag to help keep it fresh. If you store lump charcoal in a tightly sealed container, it will last indefinitely.
Answer: No, lump charcoal doesn’t have to be white before cooking. Most of the time you can use it in any color for grilling purposes because it will burn off while your food is cooking which helps give it that delicious smoky flavor.
Answer: Some benefits of using lump charcoal include:
• No chemicals
• All-natural and organic fuel source
• It burns longer than briquettes or propane tanks
• Smoky flavor that penetrates deep into your food while grilling (this also makes it great for smoking)
Answer: Yes, cooking with lump charcoal is a healthier alternative to other forms of grilling. It’s all-natural and organic so it won’t add any chemicals or toxins into your food like propane can do when you use gas grills.
Answer: Yes, lump charcoal typically burns longer than briquettes. This is because it’s made of smaller pieces that create more surface area for the fire to ignite, which means it will stay lit for a longer period of time.
Answer: No, lump charcoal doesn’t typically burn hotter than wood. The heat can vary depending on the type of hardwood that is used to make the lump charcoal. However, it will generally produce a more consistent heat than if you were using logs or chunks of wood for your grill.
Answer: To ignite lump charcoal, you can either use a chimney starter or lighter fluid.
Answer: It usually takes about 10-15 minutes for lump charcoal to heat up, depending on the size of your grill and how much charcoal you’re using.
Answer: To extinguish lump charcoal, you can either simply let them burn out on their own, or use a bucket of water. However, be careful when using the bucket of water because water can sometimes damage your barbecue. Be sure to wait until the coals are completely cold before disposing of them in your trashcan, or storing them to be used again (depending on which lump charcoal you purchase).
Answer: If your lump charcoal gets wet, you can try to dry it out by spreading it out in a thin layer on some newspaper or laying it outside in direct sunlight. Make sure to let it dry out for at least a few days before using it.
Lump charcoal is great for grilling, smoking, and cooking in general because it’s an all-natural and organic fuel source that will burn longer than other fuels used for grilling.
The brand you choose doesn’t matter; just make sure to find one that is high-quality and made of 100% natural hardwood. It’s also important to keep your lump charcoal fresh by storing it in a sealed container or bag, as well as making sure you only use the highest quality lump charcoals for grilling.
Overall, our personal favorite is Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal because it’s a great value and it burns hotter than most other brands. You can also buy it easily on Amazon.
We hope you now have plenty of different options on which lump charcoal to use next time you want to fire up the grill. So, it’s time to start up your grill or smoker with lump charcoal, and cook the greatest BBQ possible, with that distinctive smoky taste and aroma, but without any dangerous chemicals. Happy barbecuing!