If you have this question in your mind, can you mix lump charcoal with briquette or not, or simply, if you want both smokey hardwood flavor and an even, longer burn at a time, you can go through this article to know how mixing lump charcoal and briquettes can bring you the desired result.
If you are an avid lover of grill and barbeque, you might know that both lump charcoal and char briquette have their own contribution that will compel you to choose them in your grilling session. Usually, most people choose either lump charcoal or briquette, but can you mix lump charcoal with briquette? Let’s talk about it.
In this article, I will discuss the advantages and problems of mixing lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes and how to mix them in the proper way to get the best result. And for the beginners, I will also throw some light on the origin and characteristics of lump charcoal and briquettes.
You can mix up Lump charcoal with Charcoal Briquettes. But each of them has some pros and cons. So when you are mixing them, you have to be ready to face some difficulties along with the benefits.
What Are Lump Charcoal and Charcoal Briquette Made of
Lump charcoal is made from natural hardwood. It is made by burning wood chunks in the absence of oxygen. The natural chemicals, sap, moisture all are eliminated from the wood chunks.
Briquettes are made from sawdust of scrap woods and other additives. With chemical binders and filler, they are compressed into a uniform shape. They contain Wood Charcoal, Sawdust, lignite/Anthracite coal, Starch, Limestone, Borax, Sodium nitrate, Wax, Chaff, etc.
Characteristics of Lump Charcoal
Lump charcoals are derived from pure natural hardwood that leaves a purer, wood flavored taste. As they are essentially wood, you will get them in their rough shapes.
Lump charcoal works best when you need to start the fire in a short time. As lump charcoals respond to oxygen promptly, you can easily manipulate the temperature in your grill using the adjustable vents.
It would be great for high heat and fast cooking when you are craving perfectly seared meat keeping the inside juicy. If they are not completely burnt in the first grilling, you can use them again for another session.
It leaves less residue and burns very hot because of its reactive nature to oxygen. It burns fast but you can manage the flame and temperature with the adjustable air vents.
Different wood lumps can produce different temperatures. Normally, hardwood lumps can give you from 1000 up to 1800°F a high temperature.
Characteristics of Charcoal Briquette
They are fully carbonized and given the same shapes to ensure even burn and longer cook time.
However, they are slower to blaze and maintain less temperature (700-800°F). Unlike lump charcoal, it is not natural and adds pollutants to the air. Besides, the smoke that you will get from it will leave a harsh flavor to your dishes. However, charcoal briquettes are less expensive than lump charcoals.
So, you can see, both of them have their distinctive characteristics that you may want for a specific dish. So, if you combine them, you can expect to get the best out of each type of charcoal.
Can You Mix Lump Charcoal With Briquette – How to Mix
Well, many people want to fusion these two forms of charcoal. Therefore, they start fueling their grills with charcoal briquettes and add lump charcoals after a while once they start burning.
Some people create two different sections and distribute the lump and briquettes separately. You have to decide how you want to mix them.
I will recommend not to dump them into your grill roughly or keeping them in different sections. Rather layer them in your grill. At first, light up a chimney starter with charcoal briquettes.
After that, place the lit briquettes on your charcoal grates. Pour the lump charcoal on top of them to ignite them. Thus, the small lumps will not have the risk of falling through the charcoal grate.
The Benefits You Will Get by Mixing Lump Charcoal With Briquettes
If you are a beginner and wondering why people mix lump charcoals with briquettes, here is the answer. When you are adding these two types of charcoal, you are getting the benefits from both sides.
For using lump charcoals, you are getting very higher heat that will you need for searing.
Since lump charcoal is from pure wood, it will offer your dishes a better flavor that you would not get from briquettes.
The main reason why lump charcoal burns so hot and create a smokey flavor of its wood is that it is not evenly carbonized. For the same reason, it burns faster. This is partly inconvenient when your cook time is longer.
So, when you make a bed of briquettes under the lump charcoal, you will get a longer burn time. As Briquettes are properly carbonized and almost evenly shaped, they will give you a longer and more even burn. So, mixing these two types of charcoals is giving you the best of both.
Problems That You Can Face for Mixed Lump Charcoal and Briquettes
As you are mixing lump charcoal and briquettes and expecting to get the best out of them, you should also know about the problems this can create.
Yes. As you are assuming, controlling the temperature will be somewhat problematic. Lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes will respond to temperature distinctively. Lump charcoal burns hotter than Briquettes which may lead to losing your control over temperature.
So you have to go through a trial and error process to get the specific temperature. Especially if you need a constant temperature for a low and slow cook, it will take a good amount of effort. The rough form of lump charcoal is responsible for this.
As they are made of whole pieces of hardwood, naturally they will be of different sizes and shapes. And this is why they will burn unevenly. The little pieces take less time to light up and burn while the larger pieces will take time to light up completely. And naturally, the larger ones will create more heat and smoke.
If you have already made a bed of lit briquettes, you will not need much heat from the larger pieces of charcoal. Therefore, you have to control the temperature carefully with your air vents. This will cost some trials.
The lump charcoals are not evenly carbonized so a little bit of moisture can be still left in the middle portion. As a result, the larger pieces may spark. While this is not a big deal, if you are a beginner or did not use lump charcoal earlier, just try to handle it carefully.
Again, if you did not use briquettes earlier, I should inform you that it produces a lot of ash. While this is not a problem, just keep an eye so that it cannot block the air intake in your grill. Clean the ash builds up regularly.
Can You Make Your Customized Charcoal
Making our customized charcoal for grilling and smoking may be quite intimidating to many of us. If you have got any tree limbs/logs lying idle in your backyard and planning to use them in your fireplace, there are still some other great ideas. Why will you depend on the store-bought lump charcoal/briquettes while you can make it on your own?
So, if you are left with some extra time, try this easy project with your favorite wood to get more flavored dishes. It is fun and worth the effort. So, let’s start from scratch.
Things You Will Need
- Airtight kettle grill
- Chimney starter
- Some pieces of newspaper and
Get Seasoned Wood
The wood must be seasoned for at least three months. But seasoned wood of about 1-2 years will work best. It will depend on which hardwood you are using.
Cut the limbs/logs. Each chunk should be of a 3-4 inch cubed shape. Leave them to get seasoned in dry and clean burlap bags where they will get airflow.
Open The Bottom Vents
Keep the bottom vents beneath the charcoal firebox completely. Clean the ashes well so that they cannot clog the vents.
Put Your Seasoned Wood in The Chimney Starter
Fill the chimney starter with the seasoned wood chunks. Put the newspapers into the base of the chimney. Place the chimney on the grill. Light the newspaper and put more if needed. Once all the wood chunks are fully lit, stop adding them.
Let The Wood Chunks Burn Well
The wood chunks should be burned until they will develop a blackish color. Before they get covered with ashes, remove the chimney starter from the rack. Unload the lit wood chunks in the charcoal grate and spread them evenly. Place the grill rack back and put the lid on it.
Open The Vents Completely
Keep the vents fully open to continue the blaze for several minutes. Allow the charcoals to sit for at least one day. Thus, you have got your customized charcoal. They are now ready to fire up your grill.
- Choose a safe place to do it. Also, it may produce much smoke that will bother your neighbor.
- Having a water hose nearby will be convenient will let you use it if anything goes wrong.
- Does lump charcoal burn hotter than woods?
As wood contains water, sugars, and other elements that do not burn consistently. Moreover, it creates smoke and a lot of ash. Lump charcoal, on the other hand, is produced only from the burning compounds of the wood that allows it to make less smoke and ash with a hotter burn.
- Where are lump charcoals mainly used?
It is used where high heat is required and smoke is not allowed. You can use it in barbeque grills, smokers, art glass kilns, blast furnaces, etc.
- Are wood-fired foods safer than those made with lump charcoals or briquettes?
As wood is free of any kind of chemicals and additives, foods made on a wood fire is safer than those of some types of charcoal. Besides, wood-fired foods are more flavorful.
- Which wood will be great for making lump charcoal?
Maple, Hickory, Oak, mesquite, Osage Orange, Apple, Pear, and Cherry all will be great for making lump charcoal.
- Is it important to get the specific wood for any specific dish?
Yes. It is. Wood-like pine will burn faster and hotter making it a good choice to get the perfect searing on a steak.
In case of a lower and a slower cook, a higher density wood like hickory, pecan or oak will be great which will leave a mild, smokey flavor in your briskets Where Oak with its powerful smoke goes well with beef.
While Mesquite with its sweet flavor can go with any type of meat, Applewood will be great for the high-fat meats for its subtle sweet taste.
- Does adding hardwood along with charcoal enhance the flavor?
Yes. If you mix a handful of hardwood on top of the charcoal bed it will increase the wood flavor. While charcoal will contribute as a heating element, wood will contribute to the smokey flavor in your dishes. You can use wood chunks, chips, pellets, or even sawdust to get more flavor in your dishes.
- Why do not wood coals burn?
Wood coals are essentially hydrocarbon. They do not burn because they are already burnt.
- Why the lump charcoal creates a smoke flavor?
It is claimed that the lump charcoal is purer as it does not contain any additives, so it is normal that the woods will create a more smokey flavor than the hickory or mesquite charcoal.
Now, I hope it is clear that can you mix lump charcoal with briquette or not, so, if you have not tried mixing up lump charcoal and briquettes yet, explore it the next time and take your grilling journey one step further. If you can only mix up the lump charcoal and briquettes in the proper way and control the temperature successfully, you will get an amazing result for sure.