What's The Difference Between Briquettes And Charcoal?   

What’s The Difference Between Briquettes And Charcoal?   

Briquettes and charcoal are the most popular types of fuel used in grills. The two are sometimes confusing, especially when you are new to grilling; thus, you should know how to distinguish them. So, what is the difference between briquettes and charcoal?  

The primary difference between briquettes and charcoal is their size and shape. Briquettes come in a uniform size, a feature that makes them burn at the same rate. On the other hand, charcoal comes in irregular shapes and sizes, thus burning at different rates, especially when grilling. However, charcoal produces more heat than briquettes.

This guide will help you understand the differences between briquettes and charcoal and make it easy to decide which one to work with. Keep reading to keep yourself in the know.

Lump charcoal vs briquette

Lump charcoal and briquette are different, but they are also similar. The two are great for a great grilling experience and add a smoky flavor to your food. 

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Lump charcoal

Making Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal is produced by heating wood in limited oxygen or carbonized natural wood. It is often produced by heating wood in an airtight space where no oxygen can get in. All the chemicals, sap, and moisture in the wood are removed, leaving behind lump charcoal. This is known as charring. Any type of wood can be heated to produce lump charcoal. Therefore, you can find any flavor you are looking for in any bag of charcoal.  

Since machines or human hands do not mold them, the outcome usually comes in different shapes and sizes. They come in irregular shapes meaning they burn inconsistently but produce high amounts of heat.

What are the components of lump charcoal?

Lump charcoal contains high levels of carbon. Carbon in charcoal is responsible for the high levels of energy present in charcoal compared to the energy in natural wood. Typically charcoal burns at 1400 degrees F, way hotter than the heat you will get from briquettes. 


  • Burns hot. Therefore, you need to monitor the heat closely if you are grilling in low heat.
  • Best for faster grilling options due to its hotness.
  • Imparts deep smoky flavor to your food
  • It produces a great smell
  • Produces little amounts of ash
  • Burns clean
  • They are lightweight.


  • Expensive
  • Hard to find
  • Burns fast
  • Their shape and size irregularities make it challenging to grill with them
  • Some pieces might not be wholly carbonized, thus hard to light and retain heat.


How are briquettes produced?

Briquettes are produced by mixing additives with sawdust and then molding them to form a uniform shape and size. The process incorporates various chemicals with a good form of condensed wood leftovers or by-products, not necessarily sawdust only. You can use multiple wood by-products to make briquettes that can work perfectly. Some of these include biomass, coal, and wood charcoal. Also, you will require an accelerant to make them burn. This ensures that your briquettes burn effectively. Usually, briquettes burn at 1000 degrees F, lower than lump charcoal. They burn less hot than charcoal lumps, but they usually burn longer.

The additives used in the production process ensure that the pieces are held together and that the final products come out clean and with a regular shape.

What are the components of briquettes?

 Sometimes briquettes are made with lighter fluids to make starting easier, something users have reported that they smell the lighter fluids and other chemicals or even taste it on their foods. However, that should not be something to worry about. Just ensure that you get your briquettes from a reputable brand.

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Various companies use different methods and additives to make briquettes, so based on the company you choose to buy from, expect component variations. Some common briquette components include charcoal dust, wheat starch, calcium carbonate, sodium nitrate, and sodium borate.


  • Cheaper
  • Burns longer
  • Uniform shape and size, thus easy to grill with.
  • Lightweight
  • Convenient
  • Easy to use
  • Maintains a consistent and steady temperature


  • Additives may contain allergens
  • Produces a lot of ash
  • They take longer to start
  • Produces chemical smell that may be imparted on the food
  • Do not burn hot

Time difference between lump charcoal and briquettes

Briquettes are made to burn for many hours. Therefore, the best option for many smoking methods. Naturally, they are best for slow and low cooking. For instance, if you are looking to smoke for six hours or more, you should go for this.

Lump charcoal burns fast. They are designed to burn for an hour, making them the best for searing and direct grilling. However, that does not exclude them from the indirect heating option. They can still ideally be used for that purpose. The difference here is that with lump charcoal, you will be required to add more pieces after some time, but for briquettes, you can set up your fire and relax until your food is ready with no effort of adding more briquettes.

Briquettes and lump charcoal: which one is better for smoking and grilling?

Most people confuse grilling and smoking. Some even think that they are the same, but they are not. Grilling needs a high amount of heat for a short period. Now that you know grilling requires high heat for a shorter period, there is no doubt that you need lump charcoal for the purpose. It burns hotter and faster, imparting your food with a natural smoky flavor.

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On the other hand, smoking requires low heat and an extended period. This is low and low cooking. Briquettes produce a low amount of heat but burn for a very long period making them the ideal option for smoking. They constantly burn, producing steady heat essential for slow cooking. Grilling requires hot and fast heat, while smoking requires low and constant heat.                     

How much hotter is lump charcoal vs briquettes

Lump charcoal burns at 1400 degrees F, while briquettes burn at around 800 to 1000 degrees F. Between the two, there is a difference of about 400 to 600 degrees F.                                                                                           

What burns longer, charcoal or briquettes?          

Usually, briquettes burn longer than charcoal, but they burn with a lower heat making them ideal for low and slow cooking methods. Also, the heat they produce makes it easier to control the briquettes’ temperature than lump charcoal. With the best charcoal grill, you should get the most from lump charcoal.

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What burns hotter, charcoal or briquettes?

Lump charcoal burns hotter and lights faster. It responds faster to oxygen, thus giving you less stress lighting, and even when they do, they produce high amounts of heat. Their ability to burn hotter than briquettes makes them the best option for searing and grilling. To effectively control the temperature of charcoal, you should have a vented grill so that when the heat is too high, you can close the vents and lower the heat.


Lump charcoal is always hard to find because it is produced through carbonizing natural wood, unlike briquettes. Lump charcoal is pure with no chemicals, but it is also possible to find briquettes with no chemicals. This makes charcoal the best option among many, especially for outside grilling.

Lump charcoal and briquettes are excellent when used for the proper purpose. As mentioned before, briquettes make the best option for smoking due to their level of heat and burning period, which is low heat and longer period. On the other hand, lump charcoal is great for grilling because it is hotter and burns for a shorter period.

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