Best Lump Charcoal [Buyers Guide]

Lump charcoal comes in different flavors, sizes, burning temperature, and quality. These unique features can be used to differentiate on which type of lump charcoal is suitable for what type of cooking. Prices also vary from one type to the other, influenced by the quality and other distinct features.

Throughout this context, we will take you to the different types of lump charcoal. All the information you need to assist you in making a decision on which brand to purchase is covered here. The insights provided come from a pitmaster who has tried and tested the products, now back with reviews to help you make more informed choices.

Characteristics of Good Quality Lumpwood Charcoal

Lumpwood charcoal is a type of fuel that has been in existence for a long time. It provides well-blended smoky flavors and gives food a combination of woody and traditional tastes.

Its quality is gauged by considering different factors and weighing them against the standard measures of quality.

Below are factors to consider when looking for quality lump wood charcoal:

Sources and Quality

Many species of trees are used in the making of lump charcoal. However, every type of wood produces distinct flavors and scents. This contributes to the outcome of the food in terms of how savory or delightful it’s going to be.

You can prepare similar dishes, each with charcoal from different wood, and feel the unique difference between them.

Some wood types are stronger than others, making them suitable for certain types of food. This also applies to woods with lighter scents and flavors.

Among the most common sources of lump wood charcoal are apple, cherry, oak, maple, hardwood, bamboo among others. Some brands offer a combination of two or more wood types to come up with a blend of lump charcoal that’s unique and distinct.

The quality of this type of fuel is influenced and driven by the type of wood, processing, and packaging among other factors.

Flavor

Lump charcoal’s flavor is determined by the type of wood used in its making. The fuel type is made of 100% wood, having passed through different carbonization stages.

Some produce rich and strong flavors while others produce mild and sweet flavors. Regardless, all of them give out a smoky flavor, which is the ultimate goal.

Bamboo, apple, maple, alder, and other woods in similar categories produce flavors that are mild and subtle. They are suitable for smoking or grilling poultry, fish, and other light meats whose natural flavors would otherwise be overshadowed by strongly flavored lump charcoal.

For deep and intense flavors, mesquite, pecan, and hickory lump wood charcoal are your go-to fuel types. They blend well with pork barbecue, brisket, and salmon.

Medium flavors that are neither too mild nor too intense can be derived from cherry and oak woods. They are great for preparing poultry, pork, and beef.

Depending on the flavors you prefer for your meals, it is easy to know the type of wood to go for. The dish in question is also a good guide in your choice of lump charcoal flavors.

Burning Temperature

Lump charcoal standard burning temperature ranges between 1200 to 1400 degrees. Hardwood burns longer and stronger as compared to lighter woods.

Quality is also a determinant of the temperature produced by lump charcoal. High-quality charcoal produces more heat than low-quality brands.

In your smoking or grilling endeavors, pay attention to the heat range of the lump charcoal you purchase, in connection to the meals you intend to prepare.

Some meats such as beef brisket require high temperatures to cook properly while others such as salmon can be cooked under mild heat, as too much of it will overcook the meat to a soggy mess.

Size

The size of lump charcoal comes to play when portability, smoker type, and bulkiness are considered. Most types of lump charcoal vary in shape and size. They don’t have a standard physical appearance.

When purchasing, you have a choice to pick either small, medium, or large-sized lump charcoal depending on your equipment and other preferences.

The length of pieces of quality charcoal in a bag measures between 1 and 4 inches. They are well-sorted and packaged in a way that eases their portability.

The larger the size, the longer it burns. Small size charcoal lumps produce less ash than their larger counterparts.

Lump Charcoal Vs. Briquettes

A lifetime debate has been in existence over which one among the two works better. The bottom line, however, is both briquettes, and lump charcoal have their fair share of differences.

Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal is made from natural wood that undergoes an entire process of carbonization, before being cooled and packaged. The wood is burnt under a minimal supply of oxygen, therefore retaining most of its organic carbon qualities.

They offer higher temperatures than briquettes but burn down quicker. Ash production is minimal and they are fast to light.

Briquettes

Briquettes are a combination of additives and leftover woods or sawdust. They are created similarly to lump charcoal, apart from the addition of chemicals used to combine the materials into blocks.

They produce heat for a longer time than lump charcoal but the temperature range is lower.

During Combustion, a smell of the added chemicals can be felt. In cases where the additives are too strong, their taste can get transferred to the food. For this reason, it is advisable to purchase high-quality and reputable briquette brands for high flavor derivation.

Among the popular briquettes brands are Kingsford briquettes.

Lump Charcoal Reviews: Experts’ Opinions

As mentioned earlier, the list below contains different types of lump charcoal, compiled according to overall quality, budget, naturality, among other factors.

Best Overall

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Sources and Quality

This lump charcoal is made using dense hardwoods from South America. It consists of high-quality charcoal naturally made in the absence of scrap materials, fillers, or chemicals.

Flavor

It is mildly flavored, thus known to discharge non-overpowering aromas over foods. It is most suitable for preparing foods such as brisket and whitefish.

Burning Temperature

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood burns at a temperature of 1170F, releasing about 7000kcal from every gram of the fuel. It has the capability of burning for 4 hours to 20 hours in open grills and smokers, respectively.

Convenience

This lump charcoal brand is convenient for both small-scale and large-scale usage. It is recommended for restaurant use as it burns indiscriminately in all grills and smokers. Ash production is low and it burns without popping or sparking.

Pros

  • Quality and waterproof packaging.
  • Sizeable to enhance portability.
  • All-natural; no additives or fillers.
  • High-temperature range.
  • Mild flavors; suitable for different dishes.

Cons

  • Sometimes crashes into smaller bits making it cloggy.
  • The packaging may not be strong enough for long-distance shipping.

Best Budget

Royal Oak Lump Charcoal

This is our choice for the best budget lump charcoal. Its price ranges between $14 to $27, depending on the shipment charges. Despite its pocket-friendly price, it is of medium quality and burning temperatures. This makes the charcoal worth the purchase.

Sources and Quality

Royal Oak Lump Charcoal is made from hard renewable oak wood. It is manufactured in a natural carbonization process. Its quality is commendable.

Flavor

It produces a mild flavor that’s suitable for smoking or grilling poultry, fish, and the different cuts of beef and pork.

Burning Temperature

The lump charcoal offers a heat range of about 1100° F and is suitable for short and medium-smoking periods.

Size

It consists of medium size lumps that burn to produce little amounts of ash. Their size enhances portability and influences their burning lengths.

Convenience

The charcoal is convenient for barbecues, grilling, and smoking. Its affordability increases its convenience, especially in restaurants and eateries.

It lights fast and hits the ideal cooking temperature within a short time.

Pros

  • Produces less ash.
  • Quick to light.
  • It is pocket-friendly.
  • The mild flavors are suitable for a variety of light dishes.
  • It is convenient for large-scale cooking activities.

Cons

  • It burns quicker than most hardwood lump charcoal.
  • Crashes into small particles, leaving dust settled at the bottom.
  • Heat production may be low, depending on prior storage facilities used.

Best Natural

Fogo Super Premium Oak All-Natural Lump Charcoal

Of the available options, our pick for the pest natural lump charcoal brand is the Fogo Super Premium Oak All-Natural Lump Charcoal. It is made of 100% natural wood with zero additives or chemicals.

Sources and Quality

It is sourced from natural hardwood. The quality is premium and it is created for long daily cooking activities.

Flavor

Fogo Super Premium Oak All-Natural Lump Charcoal has an intense woody flavor, suitable for hard beef cuts and other types of foods that can withstand deep smoke and high temperatures.

Burning Temperature

It provides a temperature high enough for searing. It is fast to light and upholds high heat levels for a long time. The charcoal is favorable for long smoking, grilling, and searing activities.

Size

The bag in which Fogo Super Premium Oak All-Natural Lump Charcoal is packaged weighs 17.6 pounds. The lumps measure 4 inches. Others have longer measurements, providing a large burning surface area.

Convenience

It burns long enough and it’s convenient for use in all types of grills and smokers. Its large size adds to its desirable features suitable for use in large-scale food preparation.

Pros

  • Large size that makes it burn longer.
  • Compatible with different smokers and grills.
  • Fast to light and provides sufficient heat.

Con

  • Its large size makes it hard to use in small-sized cooking equipment forcing you to resize it.

Best Bamboo

CHARBLOX Dragon Fire Bamboo Charcoal Logs

This is our top choice for the best bamboo lump charcoal. It is made from natural bamboo, evident in its hollow center.

Sources and Quality

It is processed using natural bamboo sawdust and is a natural source of carbonated fuel. The charcoal burns for up to 6 hours, owing to its high quality.

Burning Temperature

For every kg of this bamboo lump charcoal, 8000kcal is produced. This shows that the heat quality is super hot, surpassing other types of wood by far.

Convenience

It burns at a high temperature for long periods, making it convenient for hot smoking, grilling, and searing.

Pros

  • Burns for long hours.
  • Produces high temperatures.
  • Natural and chemical-free.
  • It is made of recycled sawdust, hence doesn’t require new trees to be cut down for its production.
  • Eco-friendly.

Con

Best Big Green Egg

BIG CP 20-pound Bag of Natural Lump Charcoal

To represent the green egg brand, the Big CP 20-pound Bag of Natural Lump Charcoal is our recommended choice.

Sources and Quality

It is of premium quality, made using hickory and natural oak woods.

Flavor

The flavor is a blend of intense and medium and can easily overshadow or overbear light foods’ natural flavors. It is suitable for hard chunky meats. In smaller portions, it can be incorporated into other fruity woody flavors to produce a diversified taste for light meals.

Convenience

Its purity and natural factors turn your food smoky and savory.

Pros

  • Large and quality packages.
  • Gives food a great taste of blended flavors.
  • Long-lasting.
  • Offers you value for your money.

Con

  • Some packages have an irregular combination of too many smaller pieces compared to the larger ones.

Best Charcoal for Kamado Grills

Kamado Joe All Natural Big Block Premium Charcoal

This is a suitable brand when using Kamado Grills for your grilling and searing activities.

Size

They are sized in the form of big blocks. One bag weighing 20lbs is usable twice or thrice. Their size enables them to burn longer and produce more heat.

Temperature

One batch of Kamado Joe Big Block Premium Charcoal can flame up to 18 hours, at the same time, producing high temperatures.

Convenience

It is convenient for use specifically in Kamado Grills due to their large sizes. They are suitable for long cooking and are free from chemicals and additives.

Pros

  • Easy and quick to light.
  • Comes in large blocks which is convenient for Kamado Grills.
  • Burns for long hours.
  • Suitable for long grilling and smoking.
  • Natural and chemical-free.

Con

  • Some pieces are not as big as they are perceived to be.

Related content: Top-Rated Charcoal Grills for 2021

Conclusion

When shopping for lump charcoal, it is advisable to note its good and poor features. Also, some brands are manufactured to be used in specific grills and smokers, otherwise, their use may not be satisfactory.  Luckily, the above info is enough to provide proper guidance on your lump-charcoal shopping spree.

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