What Charcoal Should I Choose?
As someone who enjoys grilling meat while smoking a cigar and sipping on a fine beer
I am pretty particular about making my grilling experience a relaxing one. Because I use a charcoal grill more than I do propane, the type of
charcoal I use can make or break my state of relaxation.
The classic fuels for charcoal grills are
natural lump hardwood charcoal and for many, this is the only option even worth considering. When you are buying
lump hardwood you want to make sure that it is only untreated hardwood and not reclaimed scrap that can sometimes
be found in the really cheap brands. Using only pure and chemical free hardwood reduces the potential for nasty
chemicals getting into your food that you don’t want there. Secondly, the burn time of low quality wood is too
short and you’ll spend your whole day shoveling coal like boil master in a steam engine just trying to keep your
temperature up. Natural hardwood charcoal gives different flavor options that other types and propane grilling do
The most commonly used charcoal I see is briquettes. I don’t like briquettes but they are useful for some
situations. Because they are compressed charcoal they usually have a good burn time and produce good heat. They are
also a standardized size so you can actually count them out if you are a stickler for accuracy. Most of them come
soaked in self-starting fluid that I am not a fan of using but they are great for grilling in situations where you
can’t tend to a charcoal chimney, like at big parties where you have a lot to pay attention to or have to keep the grill going for a long time. Using a charcoal grill is
pretty much the only option for grilling while camping because propane is so hard to transport. Just make sure
to fully light the charcoal before adding it to an already hot grill with food on it.
My number one choice for charcoal grilling is coconut shell charcoal. It burns clean, hot and for a very long
time. There are a couple brands that are self-starting but most of them need to be lit like natural lump charcoal
in a charcoal chimney or with lighter fluid. I suggest avoiding lighter fluid if you can to maintain the clean
burning properties of the coconut charcoal. Because there is no added flavor or chemicals you can confidently add
these to a smoker when you need more heat without ruining those racks of ribs you spent so much time caring
I really do suggest checking out coconut charcoal if you are serious about grilling and smoking with charcoal.
It’s the standard I judge everything by now. As with all charcoal, stick to a well rated and high quality brand to
avoid frustration with too much ash and poor heat.