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Feed your mind with our restaurant grade lumpwood guide

Restaurant grade lumpwood lies burning red hot in a barbecue grill

The recent tempestuous weather has finally slung its metaphorical hook. The positive vibes of spring are in full flow and this means that the BBQ season is back! Whether you’re a seasoned BBQ vet grilling 365 in the trenches, or more of casual griller deep into that Saturday sizzle: it always pays to expand your BBQ knowledge base. Today we’re going to get into the amazing world of restaurant grade lumpwood and what it brings to the food and flame mix.


What is restaurant grade quality charcoal all about?

Restaurant grade charcoal, Premium FSC® Charcoal, easy light charcoal: it’s all just marketing right? Charcoal is charcoal at the end of the day. Perhaps for the uninitiated. But for those in the BBQ know, the world of charcoal is a super diverse place. An eco system teeming with life from lumpwood and briquettes, to instant light and sustainable choices. We’ve been producing quality charcoal for over 50 years, so we know a fair bit about these unsung heroes. We’ll break everything down for you.


How is charcoal made?

Think of charcoal as an end product of the combustion process. Basically wood is heated at high temperatures in a low oxygen environment (removing water and other volatile components) leaving behind a black carbon residue. This residue is known as charcoal. Now that you know how charcoal is produced, the difference between standard charcoal and restaurant grade lumpwood will be easier to understand.


What is the difference then?

The first difference between conventional and restaurant grade lumpwood is the the type of wood used to create the charcoal itself. Basic charcoal is produced from regular hardwoods. Restaurant grade charcoal is usually produced from denser and more specific hardwoods such as White Quebracho, Applewood, Kaachi Stick and Marabu to name a few. These hardwoods not only have a greater density, meaning they deliver a more carbon dense charcoal, but they also have specific characteristics that affect cooking performance. Think consistent burns, longer burn times and natural flavour infusions. Let’s get a little more specific.


Pieces of restaurant grade lumpwood burn red and white hot on a grill


The four main differences between restaurant grade lumpwood and household charcoal

1) Sizing

Your bog standard household charcoal is made up of smaller sized pieces with a lower density. The lower the density means the weaker the burn, and this leads to inconsistent performance and lower burn temperatures.

Restaurant grade lumpwood contains larger pieces of charcoal with higher carbon densities. As mentioned before, this gives you longer lasting heat, higher cook temperatures and and more consistent performance overall. This type of charcoal is perfect to use for larger groups over longer periods of time – hence why it was adopted by restaurants.


2) Internal composition

The majority of household BBQ charcoal includes some combination of chemical additives. This makes the charcoal easier to light. Yes this is convenient, but convenience can come at a cost. You see the chemicals penetrate your food affecting flavour (and potentially your health) for the worse. The best restaurant grade lumpwood charcoals are usually 100% natural with no hidden chemicals or accelerants. The natural approach allows the natural flavours of your food to shine.


3) Moisture levels

On the surface all charcoal looks bone dry. But this isn’t actually the case. While most of the water is removed during the charcoal production process, varying amounts of internal moisture remain. Now, with traditional household charcoal, the internal moisture levels tend to be a little higher. This can produce more smoke and sparks during cooking, as well as some spitting when you light up your stack. Restaurant grade lumpwood charcoal has minimal internal moisture which essentially negates all the issues outlined above.


4) Flavour infusion

Thanks to the the larger pieces found in restaurant grade lumpwood, you can enjoy a better, natural wood smoked flavour infusion. Again this is due to increased carbon density and the simple fact that there is more charcoal material to burn. Another flavoursome fact about restaurant grade lumpwood is that it is often created with specific hardwoods possessing a specific flavour profile – think applewood or cherrywood. These flavours add a distinct secondary layer of flavour to your BBQ food. You simply won’t get this with traditional standard charcoal.


A pile of restaurant grade lumpwood glows red on a grill base


Where can I find the best restaurant grade lumpwood in the UK?

There are many questions in life that baffle the mind. This one is a no brainer. Just visit and discover what real quality restaurant grade lumpwood is all about. You see we don’t just sell charcoal. Our story is bigger than that. Charcoal is our passion, our focus and our reason for getting up in the morning.

Quality is our guiding principle – so everything we do revolves around sourcing and producing the best possible charcoal. How do we do this? It’s about forming strong relationships over many years with trustworthy suppliers. It’s about searching for the highest quality hardwoods and materials. And it’s also about continuously testing every one of our charcoal products. When all these things come together, quality is the end result. Don’t just take our word for it. Check out some of these beauties for yourself.


Big K Professional Restaurant Grade Lumpwood Charcoal range

Our pro range is packed full of fiery friends and colourful characters. We can’t get into every charcoal or we will literally be waxing lyrical for hours. Here’s a quick fire greatest hits to help you choose the right charcoal for you. Side note here: yes this is the pro range but everyone can use these high performing lovely lumps. So if you’re fairly new in the grill game, don’t feel like pro is too much. You can get to grips with the range in no time at all.


A Cool Customer – 12kg Chilla-Grilla Restaurant Grade Charcoal FSC® £17.99

Let’s ease you into the range. First up meet the chilled back charcoal big on convenience. Chilla-Grilla is a  100% natural restaurant grade lumpwood charcoal  ideal for pros and newbies alike. This lumpwood may be laidback, but it defo has a hot streak. Enjoy a 2 hour cook time with a consistent high heat output. Looking for convenience? Chilla-Grilla is easy to light and cook ready within 30 minutes. The final cherry on top? Every piece of charcoal is sustainably sourced from an invasive thorn bush in Namibia. So you can grill on, knowing you’re doing your bit to help local eco systems on the other side of the earth.


The Apex Predator of premium – Binchotan Charcoal £35

If you want to get hands on with the charcoal at the top of the BBQ chain, Big K Premium Binchotan Charcoal is where it’s it. This modern interoperation of a traditional Japanese classic offers a unique combination of purity, power and performance. It is made from dense hardwoods, honouring the traditional, centuries old production methods first used in Japan.  All this delivers a super dense and super pure charcoal with a rock-hard iron/metallic feel and white colouring. This coal glows red hot, is flame free, virtually smoke free, odour free and burns for hours. Due to the unique high heat, food becomes quickly sealed, creating a delicious outer layer and moist tender meat.


A Fiery Friend – Marabu Professional Restaurant Grade Charcoal £23.99

Meet the 100% natural lumpwood made from Marabu. What’s Marabu? Well Marabu is a type of wood taken from an invasive thorn bush found in Namibia – amongst other places. This wood is massively dense, meaning massively long cook times of three hours plus for you. And that’s not to mention the consistent yet blazing heat output. No additives, no chemicals and no binders – just pure performance as standard.


A steak cooks with a yellow flame from a pile of restaurant grade lumpwood charcoal


We could keep going but we’re just here to give you a flavour of the lovely lumpwood lying in wait for you. If you desperate for more facts and insights, feast your eyes on this lumpwood blog. We’re sure by now your creative juices are gushing, so pick up your restaurant grade lumpwood today and get grilling.