Lump charcoal is just one of several ways to produce the heat you need to do typical meat smoking. It isn’t intended to be the main source of smoke flavouring although it does add it’s own characteristics to the overall flavour of the meat you are smoking. As a fuel source, it is effective, relatively cheap, and depending on where you live, relatively available.
What is Lump Charcoal?
Essentially lump charcoal is the end result of very slowly burning wood in a very low oxygen environment. Depending on the method used to produce the charcoal, it can take several weeks for the process to complete. During this process, most of the moisture, and impurities in the wood are burnt off, and what is left behind is a very light, high quality carbon. This means that there are very few chemicals released during the burn.
Advantages of Lump Charcoal
- Lump charcoal burns very evenly
- it produces very little soot/smoke,
- it produces very little ash.
- Lump charcoal responds well to adjustments in oxygen levels while it burns. Add or remove oxygen and the fire will adjust fairly quickly.
Disadvantages of Lump Charcoal
- it burns hotter and faster than briquettes
- it isn’t available everywhere
Using lump charcoal
Using lump charcoal isn’t all that different from briquettes, but here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- be sure to use a firepit with a grate for the ash to fall through
- Use a chimney to light the lump charcoal (Do NOT use lighter fluids – they tend to soak into the charcoal end release bad flavours into your smoked meat).
- put lit charcoal into the firepit and add in another layer of lump charcoal around/over them
- monitor the temperature of your smoker, and add more lump charcoal as needed to maintain your proper smoking temperatures
NOTE: If you haven’t used one, you really need to try this charcoal chimney, it works a treat to get your smoker to full burn in 15-20 minutes.
types of wood for smoking meat