Briquettes are kind of like the fast food of charcoal; they’re cheap, reliable, can be found on almost every corner, but you really don’t want to know what’s in them. Unlike the pure lump charcoal, briquettes are manufactured wood by-products compressed with additives that help them light and burn consistently. These additives do give off a chemical smell when lit, but allowing them to burn until covered with white ash before starting to cook should avoid any off-putting smells transferring to your food. Although they may not sound attractive, there are some good advantages to briquettes. They provide a more stable burn, maintaining a steady temperature for a longer period of time with less hand holding then lump charcoal.
Pros: Burns longer, easier to maintain consistent temperature, cheaper
Cons: Longer to light, chemical smell, large ash production
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