Charcoal is a fuel that is used when cooking on a grill. It comes from a number of sources and can be purchased in several different forms such as lump, briquette, and extruded. Certain varieties of wood charcoals may perform better than others but this may also depend on the type of grilling unit that is being used and what food is being cooked.
The different brands of briquette forms may be made from various types of charcoal, fabricated charcoal, low grade coal, mineral carbon, sodium nitrate, borax, sawdust, starch, limestone, wax, and other ingredients. The use of coal, mineral carbon and charcoal is the heat source, the sodium nitrate and sawdust help get the fire going while the starch binds the briquette together and the borax helps to release the contents from their molded shape while other products are used for similar reasons. Other briquettes are made from all natural products like coconut shell charcoal which has a natural binder added.
Charcoal lumps are made from timber subjected to an elevated heat level lacking oxygen. There are a number of different types of woods that are used and this can be anything from logs, branches, and limbs to hardwood lumber scraps, discarded pieces from hardwood furniture making, and other types of hardwood products that can be used for cooking.
Be wary of charcoal products that contain carbonized, glued, layered plywood, or anything similar. Brands can vary in their heat output and the time it takes them to burn but charcoals do not produce much ash, they also burn hotter than briquettes when allowed oxygen. Keeping the charcoal dry will help to make it easier to ignite and for those who like a smoky flavor adding a piece of wood of oak, hickory or something else to smoke in the charcoal will add flavor.
Extruded charcoal is made by the process of pressing out ground carbonized or raw wood without a binder added. The process of the heat and pressure of extruding holds the charcoal together and the extruded raw wood is later carbonized. This product is also suitable for grills and smoking and does not contain any other additives. As each fuel can be different it may be a case of trying a number of brands and varieties till you find the one that suits you best.