What’s The Difference Between Briquettes And Charcoal?

When it comes to effective grilling, the fuel source is a critical factor that can make a big difference. The most widely used fuel sources are charcoal and briquettes. But what is the difference between charcoal and briquettes?

Briquettes refer to blocks of compressed charcoal dust, coal dust, wood chips, and sawdust or biomass used for cooking in boilers and stoves, while the term charcoal refers to lump charcoal derived from hardwood.

The two main types of charcoal are briquettes and lump charcoal. Although both can be helpful in preparing meals, they differ significantly and they have different pros and cons. Read on for more information on briquettes vs. charcoal.

charcoal coal fire

Lump Charcoal Vs. Briquette

Lump charcoal and briquettes are the main types of charcoal. If you have decided to use charcoal as the heat source for preparing your meals, you will need to choose between the briquettes and lump charcoal. Therefore it is vital to comprehend the difference between the two main charcoals so you can easily make the right decision.

The Briquettes

Briquettes are a composite fuel that comes in a pillow shape. They are composed of fine charcoal, coal dust, binders, accelerants, and an oxidizing agent. The binder is responsible for the briquettes’ shape, and binding of all the components used to make the charcoal. The main advantage of the briquettes is that they can burn for a long time. However, it may contain impurities such as limestone and sodium nitrate and take a long time to light.

Additionally, the oxidizing agent is responsible for enhancing the lighting of the charcoal.

Pros Of Briquettes

  • They burn for a longer time making them ideal for cooking foods that require a lot of time to cook
  • Briquettes can maintain a steady temperature for a longer period than lump charcoal
  • Cheaper than lump charcoal hence making them the best option when you are on a tight budget

Cons Of Briquettes

  • They are known for a large ash production
  • Briquettes can take a longer period to light
  • May produce a chemical smell due to the impurities

Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal is 100% pure and natural, with no impurities. They are simply wood burnt in a controlled environment until it is pure carbon. The type of wood used during the preparation of lump charcoal will directly impact its quality and burning characteristics. Therefore when shopping for lump charcoal, pay attention to the type of wood used.

Lump charcoal is best known for various traits, including burning quicker than the briquettes.

The Pros Of Lump Charcoal

  • They are pure with no additives.
  • Lump charcoal does not produce a lot of ash like the briquettes; hence you will not require thorough cleaning of your grill.
  • Lights quickly to make your work easier when setting the grill.
  • When using lump charcoal, it is easier to execute temperature control.

Cons Of Lump Charcoal

  • It is more expensive when compared to the briquettes
  • Burns faster, meaning that you will need to keep adding
  • A bag of lump charcoal contains uneven pieces that can make grilling a challenge.

What Burns Hotter Charcoal Or Briquettes?

When searing your steak, you must do it at a high temperature. In that case, you will need a heat source capable of achieving the highest heat level. So, What burns hotter, charcoal or briquettes?

The charcoal lump burns hotter than the briquettes. Charcoal is made by burning wood in an environment deprived of oxygen. In other words, charcoal in its natural form has various desirable characteristics, including burning hotter than the briquettes. Additionally, the charcoal lights faster, leaves little ash, and is more responsive to oxygen, making it easy to adjust temperatures when cooking.

While the briquettes are excellent for burning longer, they are never as hot as lump charcoal. The numerous additives added to make the briquettes lower their grilling quality. In most cases, if you use the briquettes for your grilling, you will end up tasting the additives and the chemicals in the charcoal.

Lump charcoal can attain a high temperature of 1400 degrees Fahrenheit while the briquettes high temperature is 800-1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the other hand, lump charcoal is pure and natural. Even though they do not burn longer than the briquettes, they are hot, making them great for searing the steak. Moreover, you do not have to worry about chemicals and impurities found in the briquettes.

What Burns Longer Charcoal Or Briquettes?

If you are looking for charcoal that burns for a long time because you are preparing meals that require a lot of cooking time, then the briquettes will be the best option. The briquettes burn longer than lump charcoal. Nonetheless, you need to understand that some briquettes may contain impurities and chemicals. Thus, it would help to get the best quality briquettes for the best results.

How To Purchase The Best Charcoal

Since the quality of the charcoal you use when preparing your meals will directly impact the taste of your food, it is vital to ensure that you buy the best quality. The following are some essential features to look for in the best charcoal.

100 Percent Hardwood/ All-natural

When most people see charcoal labeled as all-natural, they get the impression that it is pure and, therefore, safe to use. However, all-natural may mean charcoal is made with no synthetic ingredients. Notably, the lump charcoal and the briquettes are made with no synthetic ingredients because the common ingredients are sawdust, wooden, pellets, and scrap wood. Therefore, when you see the label all-natural, you should not presume that the charcoal packet is safe.

100 Percent Hardwood

A bag of charcoal containing this label is of the best quality. It simply means that the charcoal was manufactured out of pure hardwood. However, it is not prudent to rely on the description provided by the seller alone. Instead, you should do your due diligence to be certain of the quality of the charcoal. For instance, a packet of charcoal with a lot of residue at the bottom is not the best quality.

Burn Time

Another essential factor that you need to consider when shopping for charcoal is burn time. If you want charcoal that will burn for a long time, the briquettes will be the best option because they burn at an even pace and for a longer period. The lump charcoal, on the other hand, burns at a quick pace and gets hotter.

Minimal Fillers

If you have decided to purchase the briquettes, go for those with minimal fillers. Filers are simply the additives the manufacturer adds to the briquettes to complete their manufacture. Briquettes with too much filler are not the best because they will interfere with the flavor of your food. Additionally, charcoal with many fillers produces a lot of ash, which can give you a hard time cleaning your grill.

briquettes for grill

Burn Temperature

Last, you need to pay attention to the burn temperature. The burn temperature you will require when cooking depends on the type of food and the cooking method. For instance, if you are searing your steak, then you will need a high temperature. Lump charcoal will be the best option in this case because of the higher burn temperature than the briquettes.

Generally, lump charcoal can attain a higher temperature of about 1400 degrees Fahrenheit, while the briquette temperature can attain an average temperature of 800-1000 degrees Fahrenheit.


Lump charcoal emerges as the best charcoal in almost every aspect other than the burn time. However, you can settle for briquette charcoal if you have a tight budget and do not mind the chemicals or impurities common in most briquette brands.