When it comes to grilling, the debate over what makes for the best fuel is a constant and heated one. Whether you’re in Khobar, Riyadh, Bahrain or the UAE, you’re going to find grilling enthusiasts who have their nearly religious belief as to which cooking fuel is the best. We are not here to take sides in the debate, but rather to simply inform you on the differences between each type of cooking fuel. Whether it is lump charcoal, charcoal briquettes, wood chips, wood chunks or plank wood, we are going to help you better understand the differences between them. To most amateur grillers they don’t see much of a difference, but to the grilling pro, the differences are immense.
First we will cover lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes. It is important to note that charcoal is made simply by burning wood in the complete absence of oxygen. Both lump charcoal and briquettes are products of this process, but that’s where their similarities end. Lump charcoal is different in that it lights more quickly than briquettes. It also has the tendency to burn at a higher temperature than charcoal briquettes. The one fact that has real grilling enthusiasts so attached to using lump charcoal is that lump charcoal is easier to control the cooking temperature with. It is much more responsive to oxygen and, therefore, can be manipulated more easily than charcoal briquettes. Lump charcoal is often more expensive and burns faster than charcoal briquettes. Now that we have covered the “advantages” of lump charcoal, let’s cover the “advantages” of charcoal briquettes. Briquettes are a little easier to work with, simply put. Unlike lump charcoal, charcoal briquettes are often made up of wood by-products with some additives that aid in their consistent burn duration and ease of lighting. Here it is important to note, a lot of charcoal briquettes come with a starting fluid infused in them. We cannot emphasize enough; we do not carry or recommend charcoal briquettes pre-soaked in lighter fluid. In conclusion, lump charcoal is more expensive but better for use by grillers who like to be able to manipulate the cooking temperatures whenever they want. Charcoal briquettes are less expensive and more so designed for the griller who doesn’t want to babysit the grill constantly.
Now we will move on to wood chips, wood chunks and wood planks. Wood chips are exactly what they sound like. They are quick to burn and release only small, quick bursts of smoke. They are the recommended method for when you’re doing a quick smoking session. Even if the wood chips are soaked, they still burn out exponentially quicker than wood chunks. Chunks too are exactly what they sound like. They are large pieces of hardwood which are usually less than 2” and are used in the case you want a longer smoking duration. The rule is: the denser the wood the longer the smoking session, simple right? Between wood chips and chunks, the simple conclusion is that chips are better for short smoking sessions and chunks are better for longer durations of smoking. Now that brings us to wood planks. Wood planks are a completely different breed when it comes to cooking. The only similarity wood planks have to wood chips and wood chunks are that they’re all made of wood. That’s where the similarities end. Wood planks are round shaped slices of wood used to cook your food directly upon the wood itself. There are hundreds if not thousands of opinions when it comes to cooking using wood planks. In order to learn more about planking and how to properly do it; you’ll have to wait for our next article which will cover planking in much greater detail. Stay tuned.