Starting up the grill should take more thought than just lighting a match. Charcoal grilling is one of the most popular cookout methods, but different kinds of charcoal can affect the grilling process and the food you eat in different ways.
Charcoal is created from burning wood in different ways. Lump charcoal is made by burning wood without oxygen, while charcoal briquettes are made from wood by-products with additives. Read on and decide which charcoal is king at your cookout:
Lump charcoal is considered in its most natural form because of how it is created. The benefits of lump charcoal are that it lights quickly and burns hot. When lit, the temperature of this natural charcoal can be controlled with your grill’s air vents because of its sensitivity to oxygen. It also puts out less ash than briquettes, which makes for easy cleanup.
However, although lump charcoal is the choice of purists, it will hit your wallet. This charcoal burns much more quickly. Because this charcoal is natural, it doesn’t come in the manufactured perfect sizes of briquette charcoal, so you might end up with small pieces that you can’t use for grilling.
Popular brands of lump charcoal include B&B; Blackwood Canyon, Kamado, and Frontier.
This is usually the kind of charcoal you’ll see in the grocery store around Memorial Day. Charcoal briquettes are inexpensive to make and burn for a long time. The briquettes are made to put off a steady temperature and consistent burn, making it easy for newbies at the grill to walk away with perfectly cooked items.
Despite their apparent ease of use, charcoal briquettes have a major downside. These perfectly-sized chunks are compressed with additives that give off a chemical smell after the fire is started. The chemicals go away once the briquettes are covered in white ash, at which point you’ll put the meat on, but if you don’t wait that long then the chemical smell can permeate the meat and vegetables that you’re cooking.
If you go for charcoal briquettes, make sure to avoid the ones with lighter fluid inside. They will heat up too quickly, ruining any sort of slow-grilling dinner that you had planned. Instead, use a chimney starter to create a perfectly hot briquettes for your cookout.
This rarer type of charcoal usually can only be ordered by the pallet in a special order. It’s made from carbonized compressed sawdust logs. Look for Kamado Extruded Coconut Charcoal, which is the most common type.