Lump Charcoal vs. Briquettes - What's The Difference?


We've all been there, new to the charcoal grilling gang, not sure what the difference between charcoal and briquettes are. We get loads of questions on the daily asking what to use, when to use it, and why there are so many types. Here are some of the common questions we get when talking about charcoal and briquettes

  • How are they different?
  • Is one better than the other?
  • Do they burn differently?

Starting with the main question - How is lump charcoal different from briquettes?

If we look at lump charcoal, it's easy to see that this is charcoal in it's most natural form. Charcoal is made by burning wood in the absence of oxygen. So you can see why charcoal naturalists and purists swear by lump charcoal. And hey, we absolutely love lump charcoal too!

If you're in the market for some lump charcoal - Check out our Big Boy 100% Natural Charcoal! Some absolutely massive lumps, with incredible value!

Briquettes on the other hand, are typically compressed wood shavings or sawdust into that classic briquette shape, with the help of some binders. Now this is where briquettes can get a little tricky. It's very easy to pick up a bag of non-natural briquettes.

Always check your bag of briquettes to see what it contains, or if any chemicals are used as binders. That's where briquettes get their bad name from, the cheap bags found at your local corner store containing those not so great smelling chemicals. However, we only carry 100% natural briquettes, often compressed with a form of water & vegetable starch, so you don't have to worry about any off-putting chemicals.

Check out our wood and charcoal collection to see what we have available!

Secondly - Is one better than the other?

We're bound to turn some heads with this one, but in our opinion, no! As long as you're getting 100% natural stuff, both lump charcoal and briquettes are totally awesome to use. Some of you grilling vets out there swear by lump, and others swear by briquettes. And if you're new to the world of charcoal grilling, we recommend trying a bag of each to see what you prefer!

Both are great for different applications, as long as you're getting the good stuff without any of those unnatural binders and chemicals, you've got nothing to worry about. We guarantee you'll end up with some pretty delicious mouth watering delights when you're done!

Lastly - Do they burn differently?

Yes, lump charcoal and briquettes absolutely burn differently! This is why we earlier said that they are often used for different applications. Here we will break down how lump charcoal and briquettes burner differently.

Lump Charcoal

Since lump charcoal is in it's most natural state, it typically has a quicker start up time compared to their briquettes counterpart. Lump also reacts to changes in air flow quicker, so if you have a grill with top and bottom air dampers, you can quickly change your grills temperature. Along with this, lump charcoal tends to burn hotter than briquettes, and with that they burn quicker. Lastly, as lump charcoal is just that, lumps of wood, you'll find inconsistencies in the sizing as they can range from large to small in one single bag.


Now since briquettes are usually compressed wood shavings, they tend to have some of the opposite qualities compared to lump. They are incredibly consistent in their sizing as they're made into that classic briquette shape. With that comes a very even, consistent temperature paired with a longer burn time. They tend to take a little longer to start than traditional lump, so start your prep a few minutes earlier.

So in short lump charcoal burners hotter, quicker, responds to temperature changes better and has some sizing inconsistencies. Briquettes on the other hand burner longer, are more consistent in their size and heat output, and have a longer start up time.

In the market for some charcoal accessories to make life easier? Check out our lineup here!

If you're still on the fence about what you should get for your next cook, pop a question in our chat at the bottom right of the webpage and one of our  experts will be happy to help you. Or either stop by or call any of our five locations across Canada for an experts advice! Two locations in Alberta with our Calgary North and Calgary South locations. Three locations in Ontario across the GTA with our Burlington, Oakville & Etobicoke Locations.

Don't forget to checkout our Ember Members Loyalty Program for all you charcoal fanatics!