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Lump or no Lump?

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Charcoal 101 - So, you're about to fire up the grill and you have run out of charcoal. (Gas grill guys, stick with me.) So you're out of charcoal and a run to the store is in order. What are you going to buy? In most cases... charcoal. "Ahhhh," I say. "What type? Are you buying Lump or Briquette?"


How this topic started. First, there was a beverage involved. That's a given. Next, I was talking with a buddy about charcoal when he stopped me after about five seconds and asked; 'Whatâ's lump charcoal?' Wham, there's an article! Thanks to Ronnie at Kick Stand Up magazine in Chattanooga for allowing this important topic to grace the pages of his magazine. Lumps or Briquettes. I know, not really a hot social topic or motorcycle theme. But Ronnie thought it was pretty cool since it is the start of summer.


Charcoal Briquettes are the charcoal that many of us relate to… think Kingsford. These small pre-form briquettes are a combination of charcoal pieces along with fillers and a bonding agent. Some are flavored, some are instant light, some are cheap and some work wonderfully. The good thing, for the most part they burn uniform in a uniform manner. You know what you're getting.

Lump Charcoal is actually charcoal before it's machined up and mixed with other stuff in order to make briquettes. Have you ever been to a campsite and found left over burned wood in the fire pit? You toss on more wood, light it and before you know it that old, black, ugly wood is burning away. That' lump charcoal.

Specifically lump charcoal is made my placing a bunch of wood in a pit, setting it on fire and covering it in order to let the 'junk' burn off in a low oxygen environment leaving the lumped charcoal. The product varies wildly between brands. But so does briquettes. Another difference is that lump charcoal varies in size of pieces. A bag will contain pieces, bits, chunks and more. This could cause a problem with consistency.

My Charcoal Recipe When I use charcoal I use a 3, 2, 1 mix. That's three parts charcoal briquettes, two parts instant light charcoal briquettes and 1 part hickory or mesquite wood if desired. Sometimes I just toss on wood chips for added flavor. I have a buddy that uses orange peels for a bit of flavor. Use a proper container if trying chips or peels on a gas grill.

Look for an expanded version in KSU Magazine. CLICK HERE

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