Charcoal is a fuel used in outdoor grilling for cooking food on an outdoor charcoal grill. Other uses for charcoal include for drawing, poison control and many more. This article will only discuss types of charcoal for outdoor grills.
Three types of charcoal for outdoor grills are, pressed briquettes, extruded charcoal and lump charcoal (sometimes referred to as natural).
How is charcoal for outdoor grills made? The traditional briquettes made from heating carbon based organic materials in a device with little to no oxygen. Heating the material in this fashion removes volatile gases, water, tars and leaves a byproduct called “char”. The char is then mixed with binders, smoking wood chips for flavoring and chemicals to aid in lighting.
Types of Charcoal for Outdoor Grills
Charcoal briquettes made by pressing the char, made of hardwood sawdust, with a binder, a starch from corn, under pressure in a form producing the briquette. The other materials can be hickory, mesquite or any other woods used to smoke or flavor grilled items. Paraffin wax or petroleum based products added to produce a product referred to as match light charcoal.
A new process takes the raw materials, either sawdust or ground coconut hulls, and presses this through a heated mold under high pressures to form a log that can then baked into char through the traditional processing. The manufacturer’s claim extruded charcoal produces less smoke while lighting and burning, lower ash afterward, longer burning times, odorless, chemical and binder free.
Lump types of charcoal for outdoor grills processed from hardwood scraps. These scraps can either come from processed supplies, such as hardwood flooring or unprocessed, such as tree limbs and any other natural supply. Floor scraps may have chemicals such as vanish left on them and although most burns off in the char process may stay. It is best to use the natural lump charcoal but it may be hard to find. The best reviews of lump charcoal for outdoor charcoal grills and competition cooking is here at the Naked Whiz’s Lump charcoal database. This database will tell you manufacturers base materials for their charcoal.
Are there advantages to using different charcoal for outdoor grills for a barbecue? You need to experiment and make that decision yourself as you grill outdoor. The briquettes may burn longer with less ash and at higher heats than the lump charcoal. Lump charcoal provides better flavors and more consistent cooking temps. I have none experience with the extruded kind, but it provides an interesting alternative and one that may be better for the ecolo