• Made from only natural hardwood, such as maple, oak, mesquite or even hickory.
• Once the wood is reduced to charcoal, it’s left in its original rough shape. In fact, the best way to determine the quality of the charcoal is to look at it—if you can recognize the shapes of real wood, you’ve got the real thing.
• Lights more quickly.
• Burns hotter (around 1,000°F), so you should make a smaller or more spread-out fire than you would with briquettes.
• Creates less ash.
• Imparts a purer, wood-fire flavor to foods.
• Any hardwood charcoal not completely burned during grilling may be put out and re-lit on another occasion for more grilling.
• Made from the sawdust of scrap wood (including resinous soft woods and composite woods).
• Combined with chemical binders and filler (including coal dust) and manually compressed into their characteristic pillow shapes. (We carry only briquettes with natural binders)
• Slower to light, often requiring lighter fluid.
• Burns cooler (closer to 700° to 800°F).
• Burns more quickly, meaning a shorter window for grilling, or requiring that you add more during grilling.
• Smoke produced may be neutral at best and can contribute harsh and off-tasting flavors to grilled foods.
• Contributes more pollutants to the air as it burns.
Chips are very small pieces of wood that are great for small, quick bursts of smoke. Chips, even soaked in water, will burn up pretty fast, create smoke, and then disappear. If you are not smoking for a very long period of time, or if you only want a small amount of smoke flavor, then go with chips. Make sure you have read the instructions for your smoker. Some electric and gas smokers are designed to only handle wood chips. You won't want to use chunks with these units.
Chunks, on the other hand, are large pieces of hardwood. Usually less than 2 inches, these pieces are best for creating smoke over a longer period of time. If you are smoking for a while, then it’s best to use chunks. You’ll get more smoke and you will get it over a longer period of time without having to run out and add more every 30 minutes. Be sure to check whether your smoker can use wood chunks.