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Lumpwood charcoal. What lies beneath the surface?

a pile of lumpwood charcoal lies burning in a barbecue grill glowing red-hot.

Lumpwood charcoal is embedded within the Big K DNA. We live it, breathe it and obsess over it. Without charcoal we wouldn’t exist. So we owe everything to these unassuming lumps of char. Lurking beneath the blackened surface lies history, evolution, chemistry, flavour…the list goes on. Yes Big K Famalam, charcoal is truly fascinating and we want to share this wonderful world with you.

Every journey starts at the beginning, so we’re going to reverse engineer the fabric of space-time, skipping back half a dozen millennia to the birth of charcoal. Way before these carbonised characters were making appearances firing up meaty cookouts under the sky, our ancestors were using them differently. Fire was the catalyst that started it all. After burning wood for heat, our astute descendants grabbed the leftover burnt pieces from the pile (char) and used them to make artistic markings on cave walls. The evidence tells the story. Researchers have found charcoal drawings of various animals in the Niaux caves dating back 14,000 years.  We’re quite certain that the Picassos of the Stone Age probably didn’t have a clue that the venerable tool of their artistic craft would end up as BBQ lumpwood charcoal, becoming a bone fide societal and culinary subculture. But even if they found out, we’re sure they wouldn’t have minded the complete misapplication of their venerable instrument after a bite off a juicy pork chop.

After a timely bit of evolution in our prefrontal cortex, it didn’t take too long before we realised that charcoal had more purposes beyond the aesthetic and the artistic. People discovered charcoal was a superb source of heat, producing a higher temperature (due to the increased carbon density) than regular wood. To cut a long historical narrative super short, over the years charcoal permeated all areas of life. Industrialisation, the Renaissance, 60’s America – charcoal engrained and ingratiated itself within the very existential fabric. Feed your mind mouth here with some more detailed charcoal info.

History is amazing but it has no flavour – get what we mean? Temporal references aside, the simple fact is this: you can’t really beat cooking with lumpwood charcoal because it’s the closest thing to a ‘natural’ cooking process birthed all those many moons ago. Not only does the lumpwood charcoal hearken back to our primitive beginnings and tickle a nostalgic reflex in our subconscious minds, it also delivers a massive tick in the flavour and satisfaction box too. We at Big K have spent over 50 years perfecting our charcoal range for sale in the UK lumpwood charcoal market. Our passion, care and respect for charcoal fuels our drive (defo pun intended). Our love for charcoal is reflected in the quality of each and every one of our lumpwood charcoals.


How BBQ Lumpwood Charcoal is Made

Lumpwood charcoal is born from flame? Simple: we burn lumps of wood in an oxygen-deprived environment. This helps to remove all water, impurities and volatile constituents from the wood. What remains is an amorphous chunk of carbon in the form of highly porous microcrystalline graphite AKA lumpwood charcoal.

The process can take days to complete and requires expertise and attention to ensure an end product of the highest quality. If produced correctly, lumpwood charcoal will burn hot and even with little visible smoke.

The cardinal rule in making quality BBQ lumpwood charcoal is to select the correct hardwoods. Different types of wood have their own distinct and aromatic smoke. Oak, walnut, and maple lump charcoal provides a subtle, soft smoke while woods like mesquite add an intense, spicy flavour.


Lumpwood Charcoal overview

BBQ enthusiasts prefer BBQ lumpwood charcoal for a charcoal bagful of reasons. Let’s start. Lumpwood charcoal is very flammable and lights up with ease. Plus any leftover impurities burn off very quickly after ignition. If it’s high heat that you want to sear your steak or get that extra bit of crisp in your pork skin, lumpwood charcoal will have you covered. The temperatures can soar to 750 degrees Celsius in minimal time so you can enjoy more caramelised meaty goodness.

Natural is the name of the Lumpwood charcoal game. All our lumpwood charcoal is 100% natural made from hardwood. There are no chemicals, additives or hidden nasties.

Another pro that would have any BBQ boffin smiling is that clean up is a breeze. Basically lumpwood charcoal leaves very little ash after it’s burned out. Less ash = less time spent on clean up and more time to enjoy good company and scrumptious BBQ.

We also wouldn’t be doing justice to these hunks of carbon if we didn’t mention the mild smoky, earthy flavour that is added to the food every time you use BBQ lumpwood charcoal that gas or electric grills just cannot replicate naturally.

Lumpwood charcoal is also the to-go choice for purists when it comes to meat smoking. The trick to smoking with lumpwood charcoal is to place an even layer of unlit charcoal in the smoker or grill, then place a burning lump over the top. The lump will burn down, igniting the charcoal underneath. This process provides an appetising, flavourful, intense smoke while making it easy to maintain temperatures.


Big K Home Lumpwood Charcoal burns on a grill base with white ash and red glow


Arranging Your Charcoal – Direct vs. Indirect heat

Knowing the nitty-gritty of direct and indirect heat in charcoal BBQing, and how to use either to your advantage, is a must. The good news is that we’re not talking finding the Higgs Boson here. It’s very straightforward actually.

Direct heat means cooking the food directly over your burning charcoal at higher temperatures. Indirect heat means cooking beside the charcoal at lower temperatures.

Arranging your charcoal to get your direct and indirect heat zones in order is as simple as drawing a line on the sand. You simply pile up your charcoal on one side of your grill and leave the other side completely empty – and voila! You have your direct and indirect heat zones. Flash cooking some shrimp? Searing a juicy burger? Grilling up some franks for your hot dogs? These would go straight into your direct heat zone. If you’re doing a nice low n’ slow rack of ribs, chicken wings or anything that’s meant to be cooked slower at lower temps, your indirect heat zone is where it’s at.


Where Can I Buy Lumpwood Charcoal?

No need to fire up the Googling machine and search ‘Where can I buy lumpwood charcoal near me?’ We can tell you where you can buy lumpwood charcoal near you. In other words, you are in the right place at the right time. Our website <LINK> is the El Dorado of lumpwood charcoal. It is the place to buy lumpwood charcoal near you, as its on your device or computer. You can’t get closer than that. We at Big K are very passionate about everything BBQ, and quality lumpwood charcoal is something that keeps our fires burning bright. Whether you’re a professional chef looking for restaurant-grade lumpwood charcoal or a home griller with a taste for real quality, we’ve got you covered with a range of lumpwood charcoal products that will make your next BBQ the talk of the town. Just to give you a heads up – yes we have both home and pro categories, however you can still use all of our products in any setting.



Whether you’re a pro (or not), having the best quality is mandatory and nothing speaks quality better than our professional grade lumpwood charcoal products.

Big K professional lumpwood charcoal burns in a barbecue smouldering red hot



Dura, our longest burning lumpwood charcoal gets an A+ for reliability and quality, Dura is made from 100% white Quebracho wood. This high-density wood allows Dura to break the burn barrier of 1 – 2 hours, clocking in at over 3 hours. Worried about cleaning up? Luckily for everyone, Dura burns to a white ash that can be easily disposed of in a jiffy. Light it up and give it 30 minutes and you’re ready to get things cooking!



Long cooks, high heat, made with a cool environmental initiative at heart, our 15kg pack of Professional Marabu Charcoal hits hard on multiple fronts. Each piece is made from 100% Marabu wood, which is an invasive thorn bush. Here’s where the green impact comes in.  Marabu grows aggressively and encroaches on native landscapes and ecosystems. So in short, we are doing the neighbourhood a favour by converting a potentially damaging plant species into lumpwood charcoal. With zero additives or chemicals, Marabu is fast becoming a hot favourite in professional kitchens and home barbecues alike. It’s easy to see why because its high density produces a high heat output that consistently performs for more than 3 hours of grilling time!


Chilla Grilla 

Our 12kg Chilla Grilla Restaurant Grade Charcoal is the kind of high-quality lumpwood that can effortlessly walk right onto any grill. It’s FSC certified and made with wood from an invasive plant in Namibia (so again we are helping out local systems with this product). Chilla Grilla gets fired up in an instant, cook ready within 30 minutes and burns for over two hours. #winning



If you’re serious about standards when you cook at home, we’ve got the gold standard of lumpwood charcoal for your home grilling jaunts.


Lumpwood Charcoal 

Uniformity is not a natural characteristic of lumpwood charcoal. When chunks of wood are carbonised, they end up taking different shapes and sizes according to the dispersion of organic matter. We at BIG K understand that most of you are searching for the Big Boys. This is why we only use the larger graded pieces of lumpwood in our lumpwood charcoal for you to have a hotter and longer cook. Our Lumpwood is 100% additive free and comes in a durable bag that niftily keeps all charcoal dust at bay. This isn’t all. It lights quickly, is ready to cook in 30 minutes, and burns at peak heat for more than 90 minutes, giving you enough time to cook up a dynamite BBQ meal for your folks.


Lumpwood charcoal burning in a grill white hot with grey ash


Premium Grade Lumpwood Charcoal 

Our Premium Grade FSC Lumpwood Charcoal is considered a little step above the standard lumpwood charcoal we offer. It only contains specially selected large-sized pieces of lumpwood and lasts up to 2 hours! If you are concerned about your carbon footprint we are happy to announce this lumpwood charcoal is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, meaning that it is sustainably and ethically produced from production to point of sale.


Apple Wood Lumpwood Charcoal

Here’s a one-of-a-kind artisan product from BIG K that’s going to fit straight into your home grill and make your next BBQ a flavour rave. Our new Applewood Natural Lumpwood Charcoal is made in small batches from coppiced and end of life apple trees. This special lumpwood charcoal burns a hot red glow and adds a fruity, smoky flavour to your choice cut of meat. Yum!

A picture of Big K Applewood Lumpwood Charcoal in a box



With quality BBQ counsel like this, it’s hard for you to go wrong when selecting lumpwood charcoal that works for you – and gets the job done as tastily as possible. 50 years is a long time to be making the best lumpwood charcoal, but for us at Big K, innovation is a windy road that never ends and always delivers the best for BBQ beginners, intermediates, experts, and snobs. If you want to explore more because your brain is simply thirstier for more titbits of information, we have more info on lumpwood and briquettes in our previous blog.

You can be grilling at home for your family or making magic at a busy restaurant for BBQ starved patrons, but one thing is for sure, Big K’s got your back (and your grill) sorted out to dish out nothing but pure lumpwood BBQ bliss.