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Briquette basics to enhance your BBQ knowledge

A picture of burning classic briquettes in a grill base with an illustrated overlay of briquette shapes

Humans are ingenious creators. We design, engineer and invent to make life better. For most, outcome is everything. As long as the app, product or service works, and works well, people are satisfied. We don’t delve so much into the mechanics or dirty details. Yet this is where the insights lie. Take charcoal briquettes; we know what they bring to the table, but do we understand why? What are the components driving their characteristics? How are they even made? To answer these questions is to understand the way of things. And increased knowledge always leads to better outcomes. Let’s breakdown briquettes on a more granular level.

What are charcoal briquettes?

Although unwrapping infinite nuance has its appeal – we’ll keep things simple. Charcoal briquettes are a specific kind of fuel derived from charcoal powder and a few other materials. Unlike regular lumpwood, that is produced from a basic process of combustion and carbonisation, the briquette making process is more complex with an increased level of human involvement. Yes carbonisation is there, but there are more steps to obtain the perfect briquettes.

What are the main types of BBQ briquettes?

Again there is a vast landscape of charcoal briquettes to explore. When it comes to making smart BBQ decisions, sometimes less is more. We create

areas of focus to enhance clarity and comprehension. That being said we’re going to zoom in two of the biggest briquette players: Regular charcoal briquettes and compressed hardwood charcoal briquettes 

Pillow shaped classic briquettes covered in a white grey ash in the grill base with an illustrated flame overlay

Traditional charcoal BBQ briquettes – what’s inside?

Traditional charcoal briquettes are mostly composed of charcoal fines – about 73% of the briquette. Accelerants account for 10-19% of the briquette. These can be artificial or natural. Think either a synthesised nitrate or sawdust respectively. Next we have about 3% white ash. And finally we have the binder that holds everything together to create that classic pillow shaped briquette. The proportion of binder in classic briquettes is roughly 5 – 7%. Vegetable starch is the preferred choice as a binding material. After it’s gelatinized, it forms a thick paste that bonds all the charcoal fines together.  

How are conventional charcoal briquettes made?

We take the charcoal fines and mix them with water or another binding agent, like vegetable starch. Once we have our mixture, we place it in a press where it is moulded into regular shapes and left to dry.

Compressed Hardwood BBQ briquettes

Traditional briquettes are popular due to their ease of use. However, some would say that convenience comes at a cost.  You see, the binders and accelerants within the briquettes often produce and odour during the combustion process. This can affect the taste of your food. Compressed hardwood briquettes solve this problem. How? Well they don’t contain any binders or  chemical accelerants. And this means no impurities infusing into your flavours. But how is this possible? Hardwood  and compression hold the key.

 a shot of big K compressed briquettes burning red and white hot in a grill

How are compressed hardwood charcoal briquettes made?

Compressed hardwood briquettes are derived from offcuts of wood and sawdust. These cuts are turned into fines, which are then burned to create charcoal fines. Next we take the charcoal fines and compress them at extremely high pressures into uniformly shaped blocks or bricks.  The super-high compression not only removes most of the leftover internal moisture within the fines, it also stimulates organic bonding between the fines themselves – meaning that we no longer need a binding agent. Compressed briquettes are a little harder to light compared to conventional briquettes.  However once lit, they burn for long er at a higher temperature – making them ideal for low ‘n slow cooking or smoking. 

Big K Briquettes are next level in the BBQ game!

We take charcoal obsession to levels beyond comprehension! It can be emotionally draining at times, however it means we can deliver quality charcoal products to rock your world. Sure we’re lumpwood fanatics. But we’re also super keen on compressed charcoal briquettes. We’ve spent many seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years ensuring that we can bring you some seriously high-performing briquettes. Let’s take a look at the fruits of our labour.

 a product shot of box of Big K compressed charcoal briquettes against a photo of burning briquettes

10kg Au Natural FSC® Certified Lumpwood Briquette (RCB10FSC)

100% natural compressed restaurant grade charcoal briquettes and FSC® Certified.

Made from wood waste with no binders

Ready to cook within 35 minutes with up to 3 hours cooking time

Central hole to aid air flow for even burning

Best used in combination with Big K’s Chilla-Grilla charcoal

Easier to light than regular RCB10

Long lasting

High heat

Pallet Deals available

Au Natural FSC® Certified is a 100% natural, compressed charcoal briquette. No binders. No nasties. No chemicals to affect your flavours. They a little more sustainable too –  as they’re derived from waste saw dust and wood chips. With a cooking time of up to 3 hours, Au Natural FSC® is a trooper, producing epic heat. And yes, it’s also fully FSC authorised – giving you even more peace of mind.

A product shot of Big K coco shell briquettes against a background shot of the actual briquettes

4kg Coconut Shell Briquettes

High quality briquette produced from waste coconut shell 

Great performance with up to 3 hours cooking time

Super quick and easy to light

Low smoke, low odour

High heat output

Timber free product made from sustainable sources

Timber free. Fully sustainable. Crazily consistent. Big K’s Coconut Shell Briquettes sit at the pinnacle of BBQ  awesomeness.  We carbonise waste coconut shells to create a briquette packing some serious power. Versatile and hardworking; these little briquettes are ideal for seasoned vets and pros, as well as newcomers and occasional grillers.

This is only a glimpse into our briquette offering. We’re sure you’ll discover a new fuel to keep your grills burning bright.