How to Make Lump Charcoal | Direct and Indirect Method of Making Lump Charcoal at Home

Do you know you can make the purest charcoal and get the perfect flavor out of your dish? Learn how to make lump charcoals and experience perfection. 

Are you tired of trying but still not getting the desired taste, color or consistency on your grilled meals? Well, if there’s no fault in your cooking recipe and techniques, then you much consider the charcoal you’re using.

Because charcoals have a major influence on your grilled food, so it’s better to go with the best to get the best outcome.

Speaking of best, don’t think we are talking about your regular briquettes. We are talking about lump charcoal. Do you know that lump charcoal is the purest form of charcoals that comes with so many advantages with the addition of enhanced food taste?

Even if you don’t know, then there’s nothing to worry. Because today we are not only going to enlighten you with the introduction of lump charcoal, but we’re also going to tell you how to make lump charcoal by your own! 

This natural charcoal is so easy to prepare and also offers the flexibility to choose from two methods of making them, direct and indirect. So, let’s not get lost in small talks anymore and jump to the main section!

What Is Lump Charcoal Used For?

Charcoal is simply one kind of fuel and is used for lighting and heating. However, for city people, it is mostly used for preparing delicious barbeque or grilled meals.

Although, whenever the word charcoal is on the air, people mostly think of briquettes. Because this one is the most common type of all, easy to use and inexpensive.

But there’s another type of charcoal named “Lump Charcoals” also exists. This charcoal is produced from the burnt pieces of woods.

The woods have to get burnt for a few days to become lump charcoals and to get rid of all the impurities. And that is why this charcoal is considered the purest and best for barbeque or grill purposes.

However, only the purity of this charcoal isn’t the only characteristic of it. Lump charcoals burn faster and for a longer time.

And the best part is, you can easily make them in your home, at a very minimal cost. So, if you’re running low on your charcoal stock, it’s the right time to give it a shot and experience the best. 

Material You Need to Make Lump Charcoal

Before jumping to the section on how to make lump charcoal, first, you need to know the tools and materials for completing the process. Nothing very fancy, but just a few handy tools are all you need.

  • Metal drum

Here it would be best if you use a 55-gallon metal drum, which will work as the oven for the charcoal creation process.

However, make sure the drum doesn’t have any toxic elements on it or never have been used for something like that, not even oil! 

Also, it’s better if the drum is unpainted as well. All these precautions because the main characteristic of lump charcoals is that it has to be natural and pure, and if there’s any type of additives present, then it won’t be possible to maintain the purity.

However, no need to buy a new one. You can just recycle any one of them from your old stock. 

  • Steel paint bucket

Gather 5-gallon steel paint bucket. It has to be new with lids that have metal clench tabs on it. It should be unpainted as well. 

  • Dry firewood

The wood from which you’re going to prepare lump charcoals is entirely your choice. We have already pointed out some of them, and you can select them at your convenience. 

While cutting the wood, remove the bark and maintain the size diameter of 2-4 inches. Also, ensure the uniform length. Keep cutting the woods until you have filled out the whole 55-gallon drum.

Also, you need at least 35 or more regular dry wood pieces, which will keep the oven keep going. 

  • Welding gloves 

It’s for your safety issue. Just because lump charcoals can be made on your home, but that doesn’t mean it’s not risky. Being safe is never a waste of time, so use welding gloves or long leatherwood stoves.

How to Make Lump Charcoal at Home

After you learn to make lump charcoal on your own, you won’t ever have to worry about running out of your charcoal stock because you’re going to be the master of making the purest form of charcoal. 

Also, for your convenience, we are going to share two types of methods of making lump charcoals so that you can do your experiment and choose the one that suits you! But first, let’s know the common steps for doing it. 

Step-1: Create a hole in your backyard by keeping the metal drum’s size in mind.

Step-2: Create several holes in the bottom of the metal drum and put it on the backyard hole.

Step-3: Fill the drum with the woods. 

Step-4: Carefully lit the container filled with woods. 

Step-5: Place a few regular split planks of wood on the top of the fire to keep it alive.

Step-6: Put a metal lid on top of the drum.

Step-7: Put a skinny branch on the bottom of the drum to let it breathe a little. 

Step-8: Monitor the smoke to become blue from white which might take 2-3 hours.

Step-9: Shake the barrel a bit and seal the lead.

Step-10: Leave it for 1-2 days. 

Your natural homemade charcoal is ready!

Direct Method

In the direct method, first, you have to start creating a small fire in the container. Never become too excited and jump for a massive fireball. After you’ve made the modest fire, add the woods into the container. 

Remember that once the fire is started to get going, you have to restrict the airflow. It is the time when you have to let the wood to dry out. And after it happens, cut off the airflow altogether. 

Leave them for a day so that the impurities get entirely vanished, and you’re all done!

Indirect Method

In the indirect methods, you won’t burn the wood. Instead, you cook it! Yes, because here you put the woods on a drum and then use fuel or similar things like this and lit the fire on the outside. 

Indirect methods require a huge bonfire, and which is risky and pollutive as well. It also makes no sense because you need to burn kerosene or propane twice as much amount as of the charcoal you’re going to prepare. 

Hardwood VS Softwood for Making Lump Charcoal

Usually, the most common and used type of wood for making lump charcoals is Hardwood. However, many people sometimes wonder what will happen if they use Softwood instead of the regular one? Will it make a difference?

Well, certainly, it will. Because Softwood is lighter than Hardwood, it means not as dense as you’d like to have for making charcoals.

As a result, lump charcoals made with Softwood are more prone to burn faster. They also produce excess amount of smoke and ash. Overall, a complete disaster! 

However, that isn’t the case with Hardwoods. That is why it is the only type of wood that is preferable for preparing an ideal quality of lump charcoal. 

What Is The Hardwood For Lump Charcoal?

Lump charcoal is full of surprises and flexibilities. There’re a lot of options for woods which you can use to make charcoals.

However, remember one thing that is different type of woods have different effects on the meal you’re going to prepare. So, here’s the list of woods that you may consider for making your own lump charcoals. 

  • Apple

This fruitwood is always available and very popular for lump charcoals. Lump charcoals made of apple woods provides a delicate yet smoky flavor when you cook fish or pork. 

  • Alder 

This wood is very popular all over the US. It has a sugary effect on the food and best for beef, chicken and pork. However, you can also do a little experiment with seafood and veggies as well, and there’s no chance you would get disappointed. 

  • Beech

If you want to have a nutty effect with a musky scent over your grilled beef, cheese or pork, then lump charcoals made from beech will be perfect for you. 

  • Birch

This wood is rarely used for making charcoals, but when you do it, the quality is something you won’t be able to resist yourself from praising of.

It provides the perfect light smoky flavor over the grilled food. Cooking smoked fish with lump charcoals made of birch couldn’t be more perfect. 

  • Cherry 

Amongst all the fruitwoods, cherry has the sweetest profile. As a result, it has the capability to make beef, lamb, chicken, pork and salmon as perfectly cooked as possible with a delicious smoky feeling. 

  • Oak

Oak offers a very strong flavor over the dishes you will cook. That is why it is less used for making lump charcoals.

However, if you’d ever like to have a change and want to give your beef or fish a different flavor, this wood is something you’d like to have. 

What Is the Difference Between Briquette Charcoal and Lump Charcoal?

Charcoals are usually of two types, briquettes and lump charcoal. Even though lump charcoal is capable of outnumbering briquettes from many angles, still, somehow, most people are more familiar with briquettes. 

There are several differences between briquette charcoal and lump charcoals. Such as,

  • Lump charcoals burn faster and can produce a high temperature. On the other hand, briquettes maintain a steady heat level and burns slowly.
  • Lump charcoals are easier and quicker to light than briquettes.
  • Briquettes generate more ashes after getting burnt than lump charcoals.
  • Briquettes are made with additives. As a result, they leave the flavor and taste of those additives on the food. On the other hand, lump charcoals have no such issues, and the foods prepared with them have a natural smoky flavor. 

How to Choose Best Lump Charcoal For Grilling and Smoking?

We have provided almost all the insights that you would need for making lump charcoals on your own. But don’t think that they can be only used when you make then. These charcoals can be bought from the stores as well. 

However, as you’re not present in the making process of store-bought lump charcoals, you need to be cautious and remember a few things to ensure the quality.

Because sometimes, mane store-bought lump charcoals contain additives and an irregular mixture of different elements. So, here’s what you need to consider. 

  • Type of wood

Wood is the primary ingredient of lump charcoal that’s why you need to consider it first. Some stores sell lump charcoals made of only a single type of woods, and some sell charcoal made of a mixture of different types of wood. 

The mixed charcoals usually have a strong flavor and scent, which later gets transferred into the food you’re cooking. So, if you want that type of strong flavor then go for the mixed one, and if you don’t, then better avoid that. 

  • Size of pieces

The pieces of lump charcoals usually have an irregular shape, and also, the size varies depending on the woods they are made from. Larger pieces burn for a long duration and create a huge temperature. 

But it is ideal to buy a mix of charcoals with different shapes which offer low, medium and higher temperature at the same time according to your need.

  • Sparkles

Indeed, sparkles are mesmerizing to observe, but it indicates something else too which is not very preferable. When you see that the charcoals are creating a massive amount of sparkle, then it means it will burn faster and slow down the temperature after a while.

It also indicates that the charcoals are made from cheap quality and lightweight woods. That’s why always check the description written on the charcoal bag and only then make the decision. 


If you want to be a professional and achieve perfection in grilling and barbeque, you should never settle for something less.

And going for briquettes will never lead that way. Because here’s a fact. A true Pitmaster always prefers lump charcoals because it offers purity.

Even though you can easily find the lump charcoals in the stores from where you’ve been buying briquettes. Still, we would suggest you make your own. Because the main point is to ensure purity which will be hard to find in ready-made charcoals from outside.

Moreover, the process of how to make lump charcoals isn’t complicated at all. You can even recycle some of your old woods and branches. You can also use different woods to bring new flavors to your food for each new batch of lump charcoal. 

All these benefits are really hard to resist, aren’t they? So, what are you waiting for?

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