When it comes to having to start a fire quickly, charcoal is undoubtedly the best way for anyone to go. Whether you realize it or not, lump charcoal is actually one of the most widely used charcoals available on the market today. If you’ve never purchased or used lump charcoal, you’re definitely missing out, but you also need to know what to look for if you decide to start using it when you’re grilling, camping, or making a fire in your home.
Lump Charcoal Buying GuideThe best type of lump charcoal should, of course, be all-natural hardwood, free from all chemicals, fillers, and binders, and it should be 100% pure. When purchasing a bag, it should have similar sized pieces and just a little bit of dust at the bottom of the bag (too much dust could be problematic). It is also important to mention that superior lump charcoal should have large pieces, burn longer, and produce a very low amount of ash. Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s talk about a few things you should take into consideration when buying lump charcoal.
Sustainably Sourced CharcoalOne of the most important things to think about when buying lump charcoal is where the charcoal is sourced from. You want to make sure that purchase charcoal from a company that uses a sustainable source of wood, otherwise you’ll be supporting the destruction of the rainforest.
Think About the FlavorOne bag of lump charcoal typically contains a mixture of beech, oak, and ash, which are the types of hardwood commonly found in furniture making. Different types of wood provide different flavors, burning time, and temperature. If you’re looking for a single species lump, you’ll most likely get a bag of briquettes mixed with one type of wood instead of lump, but there are some wood species you’re able to easily find. Apple Wood- Apple wood is one of the most commonly used woods in the northeast and midwest. The smoke is delicate, so it’s great for fish or pork. Cherry Wood- Cherry wood delivers a sweet smoke, making it great for duck, salmon, or chicken. Oak Wood- Oak is one of the most commonly used woods in lump charcoal. Oak has such a strong flavor that it can be more bitter than hickory.
Burning TemperaturesJust because wood becomes charcoal it doesn’t mean that it all burns at the same temperature. Every wood seems to burn differently, so make sure to do your research so you can vent your fire accordingly.
Size MattersYou may not know it, but the larger the pieces of charcoal you have, the longer and hotter they burn. As you experiment with different bags, make sure to keep track of the size of the coals and the amount of dust in the bottom of the bag. Charcoal dust is absolutely useless, unless you’re making a water filter. But when it comes to grilling, charcoal dust can cause sparks and will clog your vents.
Top 10 Lump Charcoal Reviews
1. Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal 17.6-pound BagThe first thing to note about Fogo charcoal is that it has very big coals. As mentioned above, this means they will take quite a long time to light but will stay lit and hot for a very long time. Fogo charcoal is made of oak hardwood, so it burns at an extremely high temperature. Some users claim that it can get as hot as 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The one drawback to Fogo charcoal is lighting it. If you do not have a chimney starter, you will need to get one in order to light it. You can also light it by soaking paper towels with vegetable oil and placing the coals over it, but that could be dangerous. While most other coals are easily lit with lighter fluid, using lighter fluid on Fogo charcoal could also be very dangerous since they can get very hot really quickly. Fogo charcoal is great for smaller grills such as the big green egg models. Pros
- Hand selected large chunks of hardwood lump charcoal
- Has a nice smoked flavor
- Lights quickly
- Burns longer and hotter
- All natural – No fillers or chemicals
- Sustainably produced
- Takes a bit too long ot light for some
- Produces a bit too much smoke
- Takes a bit too long to get to a high temperature
- There may be a lot of broken pieces in the bag
- May not burn evenly
2. Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal – 20LBJealous Devil has an interesting slogan regarding their lump coal: Pure as Heaven, hotter than Hell. And according to a majority of the people who used it, that slogan seems to be accurate as the coals can get extremely hot. Some have reported that the coals can get as hot as 600 degrees Fahrenheit. This is comparable to the Fogo lump coals, which can burn at 800 degrees. Different than the Fogo coals, Jealous Devil coals are a bit smaller in size but can still burn for quite a while given the heat factor. Jealous Devil lump coals are good for when you have a small crowd but want to do a lot of cooking. However, there are a few drawbacks to Jealous Devil that could get people to buy Fogo lump coals instead. First, users have reported that the coals they get in the bag are not as consistent as with Fogo lump coals. Second, there have been similar reports that the packaging is not consistent either. Pros
- Bag is waterproof, dustproof, and resealable
- 100% Natural
- No sparking
- Produces a small amount of ash
- Has a mild flavor-enhancing aroma – Light, smoky taste
- May burn quickly
- Sizes of coals may differ
- May heat up slowly
- Has a difficult time holding temperature
- Cooking results may be unpredictable
3. Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump CharcoalPerhaps the best thing about the Rockwood charcoal is that when you order it, you’ll get lots of it: You get three 20 lb bags. The coals you get vary in size. It is also useful for smaller, Kamado grills. Different than most lump charcoal of its size which can produce a lot of smoke, Rockwood charcoal does not produce a lot of smoke when lit. It is easy to light as well because the coals do not get very hot. In most cases, lighter fluid is all you will need. The one drawback to Rockwood charcoal is that the coals are not big. This means they are going to burn out quickly. Also, since you get three bags, there is a possibility of getting some coals that have already been burnt out or reduced to ash or dust. A handful of users have reported this. Still, if you want to barbecue something very quickly, Rockwood is a good choice. Also, because you get three bags, you can use Rockwood in a larger grill as well. Pros
- 100% All Natural
- Made from Missouri grown Oak, Maple, Pecan, Hickory
- Slow burning
- Low ash
- Made from renewable resources
- Produces a low amount of sparking
- May contain a lot of dust at the bottom of the bag
- Produces a bit too much smoke when being lit
- Dies out quickly
- May find pieces of stone in the bag
- Inconsistent quality
- May not have very many big chunks
4. Cowboy 24220 Lump Charcoal, 20-Pound 4 PackIf you are hosting a large barbecue for a lot of people, Cowboy lump charcoal comes with four 20 pound bags, making it perfect for an all day long barbecue. The lump coals are said to be a decent size as well. However, not much is known about Cowboy lump charcoal. The other descriptions of the other lump charcoal are very detailed while the Cowboy lump charcoal does not have much of a description at all. One user did report that you should expect heavy amounts of black smoke when first lighting Cowboy lump coal but then they burn clean right after. Despite the fact that there are so many unknown things about Cowboy lump charcoal, the fact that it comes in four bags make it perfect for very big barbecues. Pros
- Doesn’t produce a lot of smoke
- Burns great
- Produces a small amount of ash
- May have too many small pieces
- The bottom of the bag may have a lot of dust
- Doesn’t get as hot as some people would like
5. Royal Oak 195228071 Lump CharcoalWhen you spend a lot of time grilling, you can’t help but want to use the best lump charcoal that you can find. You want something that has a great clean burn, better flavor, and obviously produces less ash than most of the products that you can find on the market today. With this Royal Oak Lump Charcoal, you’ll be able to fire up the girl at the very mention of the word “ribs”. This hardwood lump charcoal burns much longer, cleaner, and more consistently than other products. It goes without saying that no one likes to waste charcoal, and they don’t like not getting what they pay for, either. Luckily, this Royal Oak Lump Charcoal can be reused multiple times, and they can burn for up to 18 long hours. That’s a whole lot of grillin’! This Royal Oak Lump Charcoal is an all natural lump of coal that was made from renewable oak, hickory, maple and walnut wood. If you’re a true grill master, then you don’t want to miss out on this impressive lump charcoal from Royal Oak. Pros
- Easy to light
- Leaves a nice taste on the food
- Long-lasting burn
- May have lots of small pieces
- May contain large pieces of rock
- May have quite a bit of size variation
6. Mangrove Hardwood Lumps BBQ CharcoalA lot of master grillers are hard pressed to find a decent lump charcoal that keeps them happy and willing to buy more. Hardwood lump charcoal not only makes delicious food taste even better, it also burns slower and cleaner than other options. This is why it’s so important to find a brand of lump charcoal that actually impresses you enough to want to brag about your grilling skills to everyone you see. After all, a master griller won’t endorse just any type of lump charcoal. If that describes your type of grillin’, then you should check out this Hardwood Lumps BBQ Charcoal by Mangrove Charcoal. This incredible lump charcoal lights quickly, burns slow, and leaves an amazing taste on steak, chicken, pork, and even fish. If you’re looking for an all natural, cleaner way to grill on a weekly, or even daily, basis, then you should definitely invest your time and money into trying out these Hardwood Lumps BBQ Charcoal by Mangrove Charcoals. Pros
- Consistent in size
- Burns very well
- Not a lot of dust at the bottom of the bag
- May have some spark to it after lighting
- May be a bit dusty
- This charcoal may not burn as hot as some people would prefer
7. Kamado Joe KJ-Char Hardwood Lump CharcoalIt goes without saying that when it comes to cooking your food, you want the cleanest lump charcoal that you can possibly find. While some companies choose to use leftover wood from furniture or processed wood, but you won’t find any of that in a bag of Kamado Joe KJ-Char Hardwood Lump Charcoal! Kamado Joe’s Lump Charcoal is made out of an exclusive blend of Argentinian hardwood, including Guayacan, Guayaibi, Mistal and White Quebracho. These particular trees produce and incredibly large lumps that burn much longer than other comparable products. In fact, Kamado Joe’s Lump Charcoal burns so long that you’re able to get multiple uses from them. When you grill with Kamado Joe’s Lump Charcoal you won’t be able to resist the robust wood-fire flavor contained in each bite you take. If you’re looking for a lump charcoal that burns clean, leaves your food tasting better, and produces less smoke than other brands, then Kamado Joe’s Lump Charcoal might be the best brand for you to invest in! Pros
- Available in a 20 pound size bag
- Burns clean and long
- Great for slow cooking
- May have too many small pieces in the bag
- May produce too much ash
- Inconsistent burn times
8. Wicked Good Charcoal Lump Charcoal BagIf you’re the type of person who spends more time grilling outside than you do in the house, then you most likely pay close attention to the charcoal that you buy. Some people have no problem use briquettes, but not you. Some people don’t mind having a chemical taste in their mouth after dinner, but not you. No, you’re a connoisseur and you refuse to use anything but the best while you’re manning the grill. If that sounds anything like you, then you should check out this bag of Charcoal Lump by Wicked Good Charcoal. If you’re looking for lump charcoal that has a consistent, long-lasting burn that you don’t have to worry about containing chemicals, then this Wicked Good Charcoal would be the perfect charcoal for you. This charcoal not only lights quickly, but it can be used multiple times, as well. We all come to a time when we need to step up our game a little bit, and buying this charcoal will definitely help boost your grillin’ skills in the right direction. Pros
- Lights easily
- Burns evenly
- Gets extremely hot
- Can take some time to start
- May contain a lot of small pieces
- Produces too much smoke
9. Original Natural Charcoal – 100% Natural Hardwood Lump CharcoalsIf you’re dedicated to find a brand that has all natural hardwood lump charcoal, then you might as well stop your search right now. Original Natural Charcoal uses a natural hardwood blend of apple, cherry, and oak, promising a sweet, warm, fruity taste, with just a hint of the smoky flavor we all know and love. Because of the wood that’s used to make this lump charcoal, it’s absolutely perfect for beef, poultry, game birds, and pork. The lump charcoal from Original Natural Charcoal lights quickly, lasts for quite a long time, and burns clean. That means that you can say goodbye to that horrible chemical smell and taste that accompanies so many other types of charcoal. If you’re looking for a lump charcoal that you would be proud to share with your friends and family, then you should most certainly check out this incredible 100% Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal from Original Natural Charcoal. Pros
- Low ash production
- Little to no smoke or spark
- Easy to light
- May receive a bag that has many small pieces in it
- Doesn’t work great with slow cooking
- Heat may be hard to control
10. Char-Broil Center Cut Lump CharcoalIf you’re a fan of grilling, then you already understand that the charcoal you use could make or break your meal. Some charcoal has a horrible chemical taste to it, and some charcoal takes forever to light, delaying dinner in the process. It can be a bit difficult to find a reliable, great tasting lump charcoal, but Char-Broil has found the secret to success. This clean burning, 100% natural, hardwood lump charcoal is made out of organic center-cut wood. Because of this, the fire produced by this charcoal is lighter weight and lasts longer. Also, no need to worry about too much ash being left after this Center Cut Lump Charcoal by Char-Broil, either. It goes without saying that you want to find a lump charcoal brand that can impress you in every way, and that’s what we all deserve. Luckily, this brand truly takes the cake. If you’re looking for an impressive lump charcoal, then this is the one for you. Pros
- Clean burning
- Long lasting
- Easy to light
- May come in small pieces
- May produce a lot of smoke
Benefits of Using Lump CharcoalAs we said before, lump charcoal is easily the best way to go when it comes to having a limited amount of time to start a fire. This is because it lights faster than briquettes and will produce hot goals in just a few minutes. That’s just one of the incredible benefits of using lump charcoal, so let’s take a minute to go over some of the other benefits. Less Ash If you’re a grill master, you understand the importance of cleaning the grill before you cook. Lump charcoal not only burns hotter than briquettes, but it also leaves less ash behind, leaving you with less of a mess to clean up. This is because lump charcoal is more reactive to oxygen, meaning the flame and temperature are easier to control using air vents. High Heat Cooking When it comes to high heat cooking, lump charcoal is without a doubt the best way to go for any grill master. Lump charcoal from some species of wood can get up to a whopping 1200 degrees fahrenheit, which is actually pretty perfect for a nicely seared steak with a medium rare center. In fact, this is the temperature that most steakhouses cook at! All Natural People that enjoy grilling tend to use lump charcoal because it’s 100% natural. Because it comes from an all natural source, it burns much cleaner and will release a nice smoky flavor; as opposed to using typical charcoal, which can have a nasty chemical taste sometimes. Clean Burn One of the worst parts of burning charcoal is the chemical fumes that it can put into the air, your lungs, and your food. Because lump charcoal is all natural, you don’t have to worry about breathing in harmful fumes or polluting the air with them, either. Now that you understand the benefits of using lump charcoal, and what you need to look for when you make the decision to purchase some, let’s take a look at some of the most popular brands of lump charcoal on the market.
What’s the Difference Between Lump Charcoal and Regular Charcoal?Obviously, we’ve been using the phrase “lump charcoal” a whole bunch in this article. If you’ve never used it, you may not know the difference between lump charcoal and regular charcoal. So let’s take a minute to go over the basics. Regular Charcoal Regular charcoal is what you typically see at family gatherings or sitting on pallets at stores. This type of charcoal is made out of leftover bits of wood and sawdust that are mixed with additives and then compressed to give them the recognizable pillow shape we all know and detest. In fact, they can come with different additives that make them easier to light, or that are infused with a particular flavor. Regular charcoal also:
- Lasts longer
- Are typically cheaper
- Don’t burn as hot as lump charcoal
- Burn longer
- Burn at a steady temperature
- Burns hotter
- Lights quickly
- Is easy to adjust the temperature with
- A bit more expensive
- Burns faster
How Do You Store Lump Coal?It doesn’t matter what kind of charcoal you choose to use, its number one enemy is moisture. Leaving your charcoal outside leaves it vulnerable to humidity, fog, and dew, which could cause it to become ruined and it won’t ignite. You certainly don’t want to waste your money in that way, so make sure to listen to the following tips and your charcoal will be just fine.
Keep it Away from WaterThis much should be obvious, but we should mention it nonetheless. Have you ever tried to light wood that was wet? It didn’t go well did it? Charcoal is the same way because it’s at the very least a byproduct of leftover wood. Seal the Bag After every single use, make sure to properly seal the bag by rolling the top of the bag tightly down. Once it’s properly sealed, make sure to store it in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from any source of moisture. Choosing the Right Storage Spot While a charcoal bin is ideally the best place for you to store your charcoal, there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you don’t have a charcoal bin at home. Always keep the charcoal out of direct sunlight. Because you want to store your charcoal in a cool, dry place, your basement might be the wisest place to put your charcoal. If your basement isn’t naturally dry, you could use a humidifier to pull the moisture out of the air. It goes without saying that keeping your charcoal in a dry place is pretty much the only thing you need to do to prevent your charcoal from being ruined. Also, remember to tightly seal the bag or putting it in a dry place is pretty much useless.
FAQCan I Use Lump Charcoal in a Weber?
- While there are some things you can’t put into a Weber, lump charcoal is most certainly not one of them. In fact, master grillers from all over the world pride themselves on what they can do with a Weber and a bag of lump charcoal. Have you been convinced to start using lump charcoal yet?
- As a matter of fact, yes, you can definitely reuse your lump charcoal. Actually, you should reuse your charcoal because it could certainly save you a bit of money in the long run. Being able to reuse lump charcoal is one of the main reasons why people choose to use it.
- If you use larger layers of coal, you will end up with with higher temperatures
- Coals need oxygen to burn, so leave the vent fully open at all times
- Adjust your lower vents to stay in the proper temperature zone
- Natural lump charcoal will burn hotter, resulting in much shorter cook times
- As we said before, wet charcoal isn’t the greatest thing in the world, but lump charcoal is a bit different than regular charcoal. While wet charcoal will typically fall apart if it gets wet, lump charcoal does a decent job at staying together. As long as it’s thoroughly dried out, you should have no problem using it if it gets wet.
- The purpose of grilling anything is to make food much more flavorful than food that is baked, toasted, or fried. One common thread about all of these lump coals (as opposed to briquettes) is that their material seals flavor and does not take away from flavor when grilling. If you ever noticed that grilled food can sometimes have ash like texture or can be dry. This is because lump coals were not used and briquettes were. Using lump charcoal is a good idea if you want the food you cook to retain juices and be very flavorful.