How to Use Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Updated: Jul 5, 2023 6:10 PM
How to Use Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Table of Contents

Difficulty Medium
Steps 4
Time Required Depends on the ingredients being cooked
Tools Needed

If you are new to the world of grilling, you may wonder how to use hardwood lump charcoal in your outdoor grill that you’ve built. The best grills, after all, need hardwood lump charcoal that’s often used with charcoal grill, charcoal briquettes, or some type of propane gas in order to operate. If you’re smoking meats, you’ll also need smoker grill parts. So what are hardwood lumps, what are their benefits, and how to use them? Keep reading to find out.


  • Hardwood lump charcoal is preferred by many as it does not contain chemical additives of charcoal briquettes and can maintain consistent temperatures.
  • Lumps are a bit harder to light than briquette charcoal, so pick up some newspaper, lighter fluid, or a dedicated fire-starting mechanism before beginning the cook.
  • Light the lumps around 20 minutes before you intend to cook up the ingredients.

What is Hardwood Lump Charcoal?

Charcoal grills can use two primary types of charcoal, charcoal briquettes, and hardwood lump charcoal. The latter is known for having a higher purity with fewer chemicals added. This makes for healthier barbecuing, but lumps are slightly harder to light and keep going than charcoal briquettes. Still, if you are cooking for long periods of time, the purity of lump charcoal is the way to go, suiting those learning how to use a charcoal grill as a smoker.

How to Grill With Lump Charcoal

Insider Tip

Some charcoal grills allow for electric charcoal starters, eliminating the need for lighter fluid or newspaper.

STEP 1 Prepare the Grill

  1. Around 20 minutes before you intend to start cooking ingredients, begin preparing the grill and adding hardwood lumps. This charcoal type is a bit more difficult to light, so the extra time comes in handy.
  2. Pour the lump charcoal into the grill’s charcoal chimney or a related storage area.

STEP 2 Light the Grill

  1. Light the grill immediately after adding the charcoal, as it will need around 20 minutes to come to a temperature.
  2. The lighting process requires either a dedicated natural fire-starting mechanism or some balled-up newspaper. It’s really your preference.
  3. Light the grill using your preferred method and close up the chimney with grill grates.

STEP 3 Set and Maintain Temperature

  1. Set and maintain the temperature via built-in controls or by opening up the grill grate and moving the charcoal lumps around to create different grill zones.
  2. If you collect a bunch of charcoal in one area underneath a grill grate, it creates an ultra-hot burner, which is great when learning how to use a searing burner.

STEP 4 Cook Your Food

  1. Place your ingredients on the grill grate and cook to your preferred doneness.
  2. Clean the grill after use.

STAT: Today, the process of making lump charcoal typically begins by stacking wood logs in underground pits and covering them with sheet metal and dirt. The logs are lit at one end of the pile and the wood smolders for a few days. (source)


How to choose and grind beef for burgers?

No matter your preferred type of charcoal hit up your local butcher for locally sourced beef for burgers.

Does lump really burn hotter?

Lump charcoal burns hotter in certain conditions, but it really depends on how the lumps are arranged, the burn time, and where the adjustable air vents are placed.

Does your grill type matter?

Not really, though some grill types are better at certain tasks, such as imparting a natural smoky flavor, slow cooking, and maintaining a steady temperature.

Lawrence Bonk Avatar

Learn More About Grills