Grilling enthusiasts know that the type of charcoal you use can significantly impact the flavour and quality of your food. With so many options available, it can be challenging to choose the best one for your grilling needs. Lumpwood charcoal has become increasingly popular among grill masters for its natural composition and superior performance. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of using lumpwood charcoal for grilling, highlight the differences between lumpwood charcoal and briquettes, and provide tips for getting the best flavour from your lumpwood charcoal.

Differences Between Lumpwood Charcoal and Briquettes

Lumpwood Charcoal:
Lumpwood charcoal is made by burning wood in the absence of oxygen, which removes water, sap, and other impurities, leaving behind pure carbon. It is typically made from hardwoods such as oak, hickory, and maple.

Pros:

  • Natural Composition: Contains no additives or chemicals, providing a pure, natural flavour.
  • Burns Hotter: Reaches higher temperatures quickly, ideal for searing and grilling.
  • Less Ash: Produces less ash, making cleanup easier.
  • Varied Sizes: Offers a mix of small and large pieces, allowing for better control over heat distribution.

Cons:

  • Inconsistent Burn: Due to the varied sizes of the pieces, it may burn unevenly.
  • More Expensive: Typically costs more than briquettes.

Briquettes:
Charcoal briquettes are made from compressed sawdust and other wood by-products, often combined with binders and additives to enhance performance and consistency.

Pros:

  • Consistent Shape and Size: Provides a uniform burn and predictable cooking times.
  • Long-Lasting Burn: Burns longer than lumpwood charcoal, making it suitable for low and slow cooking.
  • Cost-Effective: Generally cheaper than lumpwood charcoal.

Cons:

  • Additives: Often contains chemicals and binders that can affect the flavour of your food.
  • More Ash: Produces more ash, requiring more frequent cleanup.

Benefits of Using Lumpwood Charcoal

1. Natural and Pure Flavour
One of the primary benefits of using lumpwood charcoal is its natural composition. Without any additives or chemicals, lumpwood charcoal imparts a pure, smoky flavour to your food, enhancing its natural taste. This is particularly important for those who value the authenticity of their grilled dishes.

2. Higher Heat for Better Searing
Lumpwood charcoal burns hotter than briquettes, making it ideal for searing steaks and other meats. The high temperatures allow you to achieve a perfect sear, creating a delicious crust while locking in the juices.

3. Quick Ignition and Fast Cooking
Lumpwood charcoal lights quickly and reaches cooking temperatures faster than briquettes. This is advantageous for those who want to start grilling without a long wait. The fast ignition also means you can easily add more charcoal during cooking without significant downtime.

4. Less Ash Production
Lumpwood charcoal produces less ash compared to briquettes. This not only makes cleanup easier but also means you spend less time tending to the grill and more time enjoying your meal.

5. Better Temperature Control
The varied sizes of lumpwood charcoal pieces allow for better control over heat distribution. By arranging larger pieces in the center and smaller pieces around the edges, you can create different temperature zones on your grill, perfect for cooking multiple types of food simultaneously.

Tips for Getting the Best Flavour from Lumpwood Charcoal

1. Choose High-Quality Charcoal
Not all lumpwood charcoal is created equal. Look for brands that use high-quality hardwoods and have a reputation for consistency. Avoid lumpwood charcoal that contains a lot of small, dusty pieces, as these can affect the burn quality. Shop our range of high quality charcoal here.

2. Properly Store Your Charcoal
Store your lumpwood charcoal in a cool, dry place to prevent it from absorbing moisture. Moist charcoal can be difficult to light and may not burn as efficiently. Use an airtight container or bag to keep it dry.

3. Use a Chimney Starter
A chimney starter is a great tool for lighting lumpwood charcoal quickly and evenly. Simply fill the chimney with charcoal, place some crumpled newspaper or a fire starter underneath, and light it. Once the charcoal is ashed over, it's ready to be added to the grill. Shop our chimney starters here.

4. Arrange Your Charcoal for Optimal Heat Distribution
For even cooking, arrange your lumpwood charcoal in a two-zone setup. Place a pile of charcoal on one side of the grill for high-heat direct cooking, and spread a thinner layer on the other side for low-heat indirect cooking. This setup allows you to sear meats over high heat and then move them to the cooler side to finish cooking.

5. Control the Airflow
Adjust the vents on your grill to control the airflow and regulate the temperature. More airflow will increase the temperature, while less airflow will lower it. Practice adjusting the vents to maintain the desired cooking temperature.

6. Add Wood Chips for Extra Flavour
While lumpwood charcoal already provides a great smoky flavour, you can enhance it by adding wood chips. Soak the wood chips in water for about 30 minutes, then scatter them over the hot charcoal. Different types of wood chips, such as hickory, apple, or cherry, can add unique flavours to your grilled food. Shop wood chips here.

7. Avoid Lighter Fluid
Using lighter fluid to ignite your charcoal can impart a chemical taste to your food. Stick to natural fire starters or a chimney starter to keep the flavour pure and natural.

8. Monitor Cooking Times and Temperatures
Use a meat thermometer to ensure your food is cooked to the desired temperature. Keep a close eye on cooking times, especially when grilling thicker cuts of meat, to prevent overcooking or undercooking.

Lumpwood charcoal offers numerous benefits for grilling enthusiasts, from its natural, pure flavour to its ability to reach high temperatures quickly. By understanding the differences between lumpwood charcoal and briquettes and following these tips, you can elevate your grilling game and achieve delicious, perfectly cooked meals every time. Enjoy the authentic taste and superior performance of lumpwood charcoal on your next grilling adventure!