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Hardwood Charcoal made easy

A shot of Big K Flame Hardwood Charcoal burning in a grill base

The charcoal vortex can make your head spin. Product after product, benefit after benefit, characteristic after characteristic. How do you choose?  Well we believe that it’s not so much about the options out there, but rather the amount of knowledge you have. You see the more you know, the more you can decipher the charcoal ‘data’, making it easier to make smarter, more empowered choices. We’re here to help you get there. Today we will be having a gander at hardwood charcoal. It’s time to feed your knowledge beast.


What is hardwood charcoal?

Naturally this is where the curious mind would wonder. We’re not solving the Heisenberg uncertainty principal here. Keeping it real with you guys: hardwood charcoal is charcoal that is made from hardwood. The end. Blog over! Ok ok, there’s definitely more to the story. To grasp the narrative we need to take a look at how charcoal is produced.


How to make hardwood charcoal?

Once you have this foundation of fact firmly laid down, the world of charcoal becomes super clear. So how is charcoal made? These incredibly useful little black lumps come from a simple process of combustion. Basically we take different kinds of wood and burn them within a controllable low oxygen environment. Th heat removes all the impurities form the wood, such as water and other chemical compounds. During this process, the wood is carbonised transforming into a high carbon density material known as char – AKA charcoal. Super simple to grasp. Hardwood charcoal is essentially hardwood that has undergone this combustion and  carbonisation process.


Which hardwoods are used to make hardwood charcoal?

Basically we’re always looking to use denser hardwoods for hardwood charcoal. Why? It’s basic chemistry, meaning the denser the hardwood, the higher carbon density charcoal is produced. And as we all know by now,  a higher carbon density means a longer, hotter and better burn. In terms of hardwoods, think beech, birch, oak, maple, ash and walnut. There are also many more  exotic hardwood charcoal options out there, derived from very specific hardwoods – these include white quebracho and marabu.


A close up shot of a pile of hardwood charcoal yet to be lit


Is hardwood charcoal better?

You know the Big K way by now! We are always a little reluctant to label things as ‘better’ or the ‘best’. It’s more about what’s best for you and your needs at the end of the day. That being said, high quality hardwood charcoal has multiple benefits that you might find intriguing. Firstly the top tier hardwood charcoals out there are 100% natural with no additives, chemicals or hidden nasties. This is important because these things will affect the flavour of your food. You must think of charcoal as the most important ingredient in your BBQ cook, therefore you want the purest and cleanest charcoal possible – meaning the best possible flavour for your BBQ dishes! Secondly, as already mentioned, high level hardwood charcoal is made from super dense hardwoods, so you can enjoy super high carbon density charcoal. Essentially this means longer, hotter cook times and temps. We’re talking three hours plus here people.


Where to buy hardwood charcoal?

Happy you are thinking along these lines. The answer is sooooo simple – Honestly guys and gals, we’ve been a this for over 50 years. And we can say with confidence that we can satisfy all your hardwood charcoal needs, whatever they are. This is because we have spent countless hours refining and developing high performing, high quality, charcoal that you can rely on. We will dive into some specifics soon. First here is a quick recap of the hardwood charcoal products out there.


What types of hardwood charcoals are there?

There are two main types of hardwood charcoal that you need to know.

  • Compressed hardwood charcoal briquettes
  • Hardwood lumpwood charcoal

OK that’s easy to say. But what’s the difference between lumpwood and briquettes? Read on and the answer will become clear.


What’s the difference between hardwood lumpwood charcoal and hardwood charcoal briquettes?

The differentiating factor between these tow main players lies in the production process itself.

Charcoal briquettes are basically just manufactured hard ‘blocks’ of charcoal fines or sawdust. Charcoal briquettes are made using two main techniques. Number one: we compress a powder at high pressure. Number two: we add a liquid mixture to a mould and let it dry. This mixture will usually contain binders such as water or vegetable starch. All charcoal briquette will always have a uniform shape (determined by the mould used) and consequently, a uniform density.

Lumpwood charcoal is made using a slightly more ‘organic’ process. In nutshell we burn hardwood at high temperatures in a controlled and low oxygen environment. The result is that the pieces of charcoal form ‘naturally’ rather than being manmade in a mould as it were. The process delivers irregular shaped charcoal pieces with varying carbon densities.


Meet the Big K hardwood charcoal range

Not to keep blowing our own trumpet but we’re all about hardwood charcoal. We say this from a place of pride and confidence rather than arrogance. As we already told you, we have been at this for many decades. Our passion and love for what we do drives us, meaning we channel all that love and energy into our hardwood charcoal. So let’s meet some top quality hardwood charcoal.


A shot of Big K hardwood charcoal briquettes Au Natural against backdrop of the briquettes burning


Big K Professional Restaurant Grade Hardwood Charcoal Range

Introducing the sophisticated and premium hardwood charcoal in our range. Yes these amazing charcoals are the choice of pros, however anyone of any BBQ skill level can blaze these up now issues. To get to the point, our pro restaurant grade charcoal is just hardwood charcoal that has been graded to meet a higher quality criteria. Piece size and the carbon density of individual pieces comes into play here. When you stop and think about it, it makes sense that restaurants would use higher quality charcoal – thus explaining the name.


Pro Marabu – 100% natural Marabu charcoal with a 3 hour cooking time.

Pro Chilla-Grilla FSC — FSC certified 100% natural lumpwood with a 2 hour cook time

Binchotan – Premium high carbon density charcoal, hard and metallic feel, no smoke, no odour.

Pro Dura – 100% natural White Quebracho lumpwood with a 3 hour cook time

Premium Cocoshell briquettes – sustainable briquette made form waste sawdust with a 3 hour cook time.


Flama – Catch this 100% natural Kaachi Stick Charcoal – blazing heat and 3 hour cooking times as standard

Au Natural – 100% natural compressed hardwood charcoal briquettes. Cleaner. Purer. More potent.FSC certified.


Home Hardwood Charcoal Range

Sure our Pro range is beyond the awesomest levels of awesomeness. However we also wanted to whip up an easy and convenient charcoal range for the newbies, casual grillers and occasional sizzlers – all while keeping our super high quality standards.

Lumpwood – 100% natural lumpwood with a 90 minute cook time

Premium Briquettes – FSC certified, low smoke, low odour and easy to light

Premium Grade Lumpwood Charcoal – 100% natural Lumpwood, bigger pieces, FSC certified and 90 minute cook time.

Who says that a hardwood charcoal guide has to be hard work. We have laid out a deliciously simple trail of  wisdom bread crumbs for you to follow. You should be eating up this knowledge with ease. Until we meet again – stay frosty!



Fill your boots


  • Au Natural Applewood



    • 100% natural compressed restaurant grade charcoal briquettes
    • 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





    • 100% natural restaurant grade lumpwood charcoal
    • Ideal for home BBQers looking for superior grilling
    • Up to 2 hours cooking time
    • Easy to light and ready to cook within 30 minutes
    • High heat output
    • Sourced sustainably from an invasive bush in Namibia



  • Dura



    • 100% natural White Quebracho restaurant grade lumpwood charcoal
    • Long lasting, with a cooking time of over 3 hours
    • Authorised for use in smoke control areas, burns with no smoke
    • Ready to cook within 30 minutes
    • Easy to light and burns to a white ash for a consistent high heat output
    • Suitable for all types of home and professional barbecuing





    • 100% natural Kachi stick restaurant grade charcoal
    • Consistently sized sticks give dependable performance
    • 2 hour cooking time
    • Quick and easy to light, ready to cook within 25 minutes
    • High heat output with no spitting
    • Ideal for Robata grilling



  • El Cubano (RCH15)



    • 100% natural Marabu restaurant grade lumpwood charcoal
    • Ready to cook within 30 minutes
    • Up to 3 hours cooking time, perfect for restaurants or large events
    • High heat output with low smoke produced
    • Sustainably and ethically sourced from an invasive thorn tree



  • Charcoal burns brightly at the base of a charcoal barbecue.



    • 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



  • Red hot glowing binchotan lumpwood charcoalPhoto illustrating the white charcoal




    • 100% Natural
    • Low smoke and no odour
    • Produces a high heat to seal in food moisture
    • Honouring traditional production methods
    • Unique musical sound
    • No flame and virtually smoke free





    • 100% natural lumpwood charcoal
    • Up to 90 minute cooking time
    • Quick to light, ready to cook within 30 minutes
    • Burns cleanly with no additives
    • Packed in waterproof bags
    • Ideal for home BBQs





    • Low Smoke
    • Low Odour
    • Easy to Light
    • High Heat
    • Clean Burning





    • Premium grade 100% natural FSC® certified lumpwood charcoal
    • Used in restaurants, graded for large pieces to ensure consistent high heat
    • 90 minute burn time
    • Quick to light, ready to cook within 30 minutes
    • Burns cleanly with no additives
    • Ideal for home BBQs