Upgrade Your BBQ: UK Chef-Approved Lumpwood Charcoal

Upgrade Your BBQ: UK Chef-Approved Lumpwood Charcoal

Making the jump from chemical-infused charcoal briquettes to premium, all-natural lumpwood charcoal is one of the easiest ways to instantly upgrade your grilling experience.

Aside from a slightly lower price, charcoal briquettes do not have anything going for them. Lumpwood charcoal is a lot easier to light, burns hotter, responds better to airflow controls, is 100% chemical-free, and does not impart any unnatural smells on your food. 

Here’s everything you need to know about it.

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Why Do Stores Push Charcoal Briquettes?

More supermarket charcoal briquettes are made from compressed coal dust, which is a manufacturing byproduct that can be sourced cheaply. Consequently, it can be sold with a large profit margin. This immense profitability, alongside the public's general ignorance of how good charcoal can perform, is the main reason why they are pushed so heavily by big box stores.

But are they actually any good for your grilling needs? Or is paying a bit more to upgrade to proper lumpwood charcoal worth it?

Charcoal Briquettes Vs Lumpwood Charcoal

Charcoal briquettes are made of a combination of compressed coal dust, binding agents, and lighter fluid. Lumpwood briquettes are made of quality firewood that is baked for a long time in a low-oxygen environment. Here’s how their composition influences their real-world performance:

Charcoal Type:

Charcoal Briquettes

Lumpwood Charcoal




Main Material

Coal dust

Natural hardwood

Added Chemicals

Yes. Binders (always), lighter fluid (sometimes)


Impart Chemical Smells?

Yes, a lighter fluid smell is present during the first 10-15 minutes


Used in High-End Restaurants?



Respond to Grill Airflow Changes?

Poorly, allowing for a low degree of temperature control

Quickly, allowing for a high degree of temperature control

Ease of Lighting

Hard (if no lighter fluid is added)


Main Advantages of Lumpwood Charcoal

While used predominantly by professionals, Lumpwood Charcoal is a great option for non-professionals when they engage in outdoor cooking, barbequing, pizza baking, and steak searing.

It’s also a good alternative for health-conscious people and people who want to limit their exposure to chemicals in their food.

Here are just some of the reasons why:

Lumpwood Charcoal Contains No Added Chemicals

Unlike charcoal briquettes, lumpwood charcoal contains no added chemicals. Charcoal briquettes are made of coal dust and require chemical binders to avoid it crumbling. They are also difficult to light, which is why most manufacturers add lighter fluid to them. Being made of 100% natural wood, lumpwood charcoal does not require the addition of any such chemicals.

Lumpwood Charcoal Is Super Easy to Light

Being made of naturally porous hardwood charcoal, lumpwood charcoal is extremely easy to light without requiring the addition of any lighter fluid. All you need to start a BBQ fire with them is a single, odourless Natural Firelighter.

Lumpwood Charcoal Burns at a Very High Temperature

Lumpwood charcoal is the prime choice for high-heat steak searing, pizza baking, or indirect heat cooking because it has a very high burning temperature. This allows you to sear steaks without cooking them all the way on the inside. And it allows you to get that perfect pizza crust without burning your toppings.

If you ever need to lower the burning temperature of this charcoal, simply lower the airflow setting of your grill.

Lumpwood Charcoal Responds Quickly to Airflow Changes

One of the main reasons lumpwood charcoal is loved by professional chefs is because it burns at a very high temperature and reacts very quickly to even minimal changes in airflow. This gives you full control over the temperature of the coals.

Lumpwood Charcoal Is Used by Professional Chefs

High-end restaurants use lumpwood charcoal for a variety of reasons:

  • It burns at a very high temperature, so it is a great choice for searing steaks, baking pizzas, and grilling meat in indirect heat.
  • It responds to airflow changes quickly, giving pro chefs full control over the temperature of the flames.
  • It is 100% chemical-free, which eliminates the risk of chemical smells getting on the food.