The 6 Best Lump Charcoals

Updated October 19, 2017 by Steven John

6 Best Lump Charcoals
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. For the traditionalists out there who eschew the ease and convenience of propane for their outdoor grills, we've put together this selection of lump charcoals. All have their own characteristics, so you can find the brand that suits your barbecue cooking style best. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best lump charcoal on Amazon.

6. GRILL DOME CCL-20 Choice

The American-made GRILL DOME CCL-20 Choice is a good choice for the grill that is often used but seldom cleaned out. These dense hardwood lumps can be partially burned and later reused, allowing for two or three cooking sessions using the same charcoal.
  • hot and clean burn
  • heat grills to hundreds of degrees
  • slightly overpriced option
Brand Grill Dome
Model CCL-20
Weight 21.1 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Bayou Classic

Bayou Classic charcoal features lumps made from high density hardwood with no additives or fillers of any kind. The chunks will occasionally break down into smaller pieces because of this, but when handled with care, this charcoal lights fast and burns well.
  • good low price point
  • suitable for use in many smokers
  • produce glut of charcoal dust
Brand Bayou Classic
Model 500-418
Weight 18.5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. WESTERN 78182 Real Wood Lumps

A bag of WESTERN 78182 Real Wood Lumps helps your grill to produce hot coals that are long-lasting, as long as you give the lumps at least fifteen or twenty minutes to catch thoroughly before you spread them out and start cooking.
  • good value for decent quality
  • light well with fluid
  • hard to get all lumps burning
Brand WESTERN 78182 Real Wood
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Jealous Devil

The Jealous Devil charcoal is made using one of the densest hardwoods available, the so-called "axe breaker" variety properly named "quebracho blanco." These lumps produce plenty of heat but almost no sparks and minimal smoke.
  • made using hand cut wood
  • backed by satisfaction guarantee
  • lumps often too small
Brand Jealous Devil
Model JD-35-LBS
Weight 33.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Royal Oak

With the hardwood lumps you'll find in a bag of Royal Oak, you will enjoy a grill that is hot and ready faster than can be found using almost any other charcoal not laden with potentially hazardous lighting fluid. It burns cleanly and thoroughly.
  • leaves minimal ash behind
  • maintains excellent cook temperature
  • made in the united states
Brand Royal Oak
Model 195228021
Weight 20.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Fogo FHWC35LB All Natural Premium

The Fogo FHWC35LB All Natural Premium is one of the most popular charcoals sold. This restaurant quality charcoal infuses foods with a savory smoked flavor, thanks to its natural hardwood sourcing. It is expensive, but of superlative quality.
  • imported from central america
  • large bulk sized bag
  • great reviews from cooks
Brand Fogo
Model FHWC35LB
Weight 35.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Charcoal

Charcoal, a form of half-burnt wood that burns hotter and more slowly than regular logs, has been in use since at least 4000 B.C.E. Originating in Asia, early versions were made by covering wood with moist dirt and lighting the whole thing on fire.

These charred blocks soon became extremely important parts of everyday life. They were used for cooking in huts and homes, as they produced less smoke than other forms of fuel. In addition, blacksmiths used them to melt copper and tin in order to create bronze.

As a result, the creation of charcoal became a full-time job for thousands of people, known as colliers. Their product was so in-demand that entire forests in central Europe were decimated to provide colliers with the raw materials needed to do their jobs, and even today deforestation due to charcoal production is a major environmental concern.

Both the creation and use of charcoal would remain largely unchanged until the 1920s, when an American businessman by the name of Henry Ford found himself with an unusual dilemma. Ford's Model T's were sweeping the nation, and each car required about 100 board feet of hardwood to make. Cutting and shaping all that wood meant that there was plenty of scrap left over — and to Ford, that meant that he was wasting lots of money.

Ford commissioned a chemist from the University of Oregon to devise a way to turn that lumber into dense lumps of charcoal. He then tapped his cousin — a Michigan real estate agent named Edward Kingsford — to run a factory devoted to turning Ford's scrap into flammable gold.

By the 1930s, Ford dealerships were also selling portable grills and bags of charcoal. Unfortunately, the Great Depression put a damper on sales, and barbecuing took a backseat to survival. After WWII, however, there was plenty of disposable income and leisure time to go around, and the charcoal grill became a hit.

Today, over one million tons of wood scrap gets converted to charcoal every year, and it's used in everything from art and medicine to metallurgy and horticulture. Grilling is still its most famous use, however, and charcoal smoke can lend rich flavors to meat that propane could never hope to match.

The Best Way To Light A Charcoal Grill

Telling someone how to operate their grill is a sensitive subject, and may even be illegal in Texas. However, there are a few common mistakes people make when lighting their fires — some of which can completely defeat the purpose of using charcoal.

The most egregious party foul is going crazy with the lighter fluid. If you absolutely soak your briquettes, that will affect the taste of the meat — and very few people enjoy burgers that taste like gasoline. Some brands come pre-soaked, and if you use those you shouldn't have to add any extra fluid. You should note, however, that you don't even need to use lighter fluid. You can start a great fire with just a few crumpled-up newspapers and a chimney starter.

Don't start grilling until your coals are good and hot, either. You want them glowing red and covered with a thin layer of ash. Once they've gotten to that point, you can take them out of the starter and arrange them inside the grill.

If you expect that it will take a few hours to grill your meat, you should have some additional coals ready, as your original ones will likely burn out after sixty minutes or so. This is another reason to invest in a chimney starter, as you can have your second-string briquettes smoldering while you wait.

In fact, once your guests see you adding more coals to the fire, they may just elect you Grillmaster-for-Life (it's the highest elected office in Texas).

More Charcoal Grilling Tips

Getting your fire started is only the first step to a successful barbecue, of course. Once you add some meat to the equation, the risk of screwing something up increases exponentially. Luckily, I'm here to prevent that from happening.

It may not seem like much, but the manner in which you arrange your coals can make-or-break your cookout. Some meats, like hamburgers, can stand higher heat, and so you'll want to build a charcoal pyramid that brings the fire close to the grill.

Other foods, like brisket, benefit from a low-and-slow approach. This means cooking them over indirect heat, which requires you to arrange your coals so that the meat isn't being constantly assaulted by the fire. Figure out how much heat your food can handle before you begin, and set up your coals accordingly.

Learn how to use the vents on your grill, as well. These are usually located on the cover and/or the bottom of the grill, and regulate how much air flow the coals receive. If you keep them completely open, your coals will burn extremely hot — but they also won't last long. Conversely, if you close them, you'll trap a lot of smoke inside (until the fire dies from lack of oxygen, that is).

Likewise, don't lift the lid any more than is absolutely necessary. Yes, the fear of burning the food is powerful, but lifting the lid actually increases the likelihood of that happening, as you're just feeding the fire. Only take the cover off to flip the food, and to occasionally check how done the meat is (using a thermometer, of course).

Once you're done cooking, pour some water on the coals and stir them gently. Let them sit for a day or so, then place them in a non-flammable container and throw them in the trash. Or, if you use a natural lump charcoal, you can feed it to your plants, as it makes an excellent fertilizer.

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Last updated on October 19, 2017 by Steven John

When not writing or spending time with his family, Steven tries to squeeze in some mountain climbing. In addition to writing for several websites and journals, Steven has published multiple novels.

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