Make your own free website on

Organic is Better Charcoal

Page Title



There are two basic types of barbecue charcoal

  • Briquette charcoal is made from ingredients that have been molded in a pillow shape.
  • Lump charcoal is wood that has been converted into Carbon.

How Charcoal is made:


Lump charcoal is wood that has been cooked in a kiln. Applying controlled heat to the wood while limiting the oxygen supply causes the wood to become almost entirely carbon. There are different manufacturing techniques to make lump charcoal, with varying degrees of complexity, cost and results. Generally, manufacturing lump charcoal is a labor-intensive process.


If the wood sources used to make lump charcoal are untreated, then Lump Charcoal is ORGANIC.


Charcoal briquettes are also made from wood, but in a different way than lump and with more ingredients.

The method for making any briquette is fairly standard.  A base material is combined with a binder and water, which is then molded into a briquette and sent through a dryer. The base material and the chemical additives and fillers determine if a briquette is ORGANIC.


 In order to be ORGANIC, a briquette must be made exclusively from untreated wood sources converted to char, a small amount of water and a vegetable-based starch binder.


Most charcoal briquettes are NOT ORGANIC, especially anything manufactured by Clorox (Kingsford), Royal Oak or any manufacturer from China. This is because different manufacturing methods are used along with different ingredients in order to achieve a desired outcome that is NOT ORGANIC. Some of the ingredients can include anthracite coal, limestone, borax, sand, clay, sodium nitrates, and even petroleum.


Briquettes are a more economically efficient product to manufacturer than Lump charcoal because of mechanical automation and product density. Machined manufacturing methods are able to briquette charcoal at a faster pace than non-machined methods allowing for production efficiencies, while the increased density of briquettes allow for transportation savings.


The capital investment required for a briquette manufacturing operation is substantial and easily ranges into multi-millions of U.S. dollars.


The U.S. charcoal market is large with over 1.08 million tons of charcoal sold in 2003. There are over 1 billion barbecue events annually in the United States.


Charcoal Briquettes represents 91.2% of the U.S. tonnage volume and are available in four basic styles:

  • Traditional Size (like Kingsford)
  • Large Size (like Big Briq)
  • Flavored (i.e. mesquite)
  • Instant Light (more expensive)


Until recently, most all briquettes were made with chemicals, especially instant light briquettes that include petroleum-based products. 100% Natural and Organic Big Briq is quickly gaining market share with the modern consumer, who is both health conscious and environmentally aware.


Lump Charcoal constitutes the remaining 8.8% of charcoal tonnage in the U.S. Lump charcoal continues to be a fast growing niche as more consumers become familiar with it.


Charcoal is generally considered to be a biomass industry, in that the majority of the raw wood materials used are waste material. It is important, however, to distinguish between charcoal manufacturers who use renewable and recycled materials versus other manufacturers that are harvesting raw materials exclusively for charcoal production.




NON-ORGANIC charcoal includes the use of treated wood and/or chemicals, preservatives and additives to prolong burning, reduce cost or enhance ignitability.


ORGANIC charcoal uses only non-treated wood, water and, in briquettes, a vegetable based starch binder.



Consumer response to Big Briq has repeatedly shown that barbecue consumers are naturally more inclined to demand organic charcoal for premium grilling, therefore many traditional barriers to growth in other organic markets are not applicable to charcoal because the perceived benefits of organic charcoal imply premium quality.



Consumer Testimonials:
-I just wanted to let you know that I bought your charcoal for the first time today.  I bought Big Briq charcoal.  I just wanted to tell you that it is the BEST charcoal we have ever used.  We grill out alot and normally use Kingsford.  This is SO much better as far as being able to use less and starting so much quicker and it seems to burn nice and slow making the cooking more even and much better.
I am now a big fan and will continue to buy your product as long as it is available to me.
If you have coupons, that would be GREAT!!!!!!

-We fell in love with the Big Briq after using it one time. For a while, it was available at Meijer stores in Grand Rapids. It became increasingly less available and we were driving across town in hopes of finding it. Although we haven't visited every Meijer in G.R., we have visited many and can no longer find it.

Unfortunately, tonight we used the very last Big Briq we had, after saving it for two months! We grill religiously, almost every night...and the grill master in our household was almost brought to tears when he emptied that last bag.

Please tell us that it will become available again. Maybe you can tell us specific G.R. stores that you have shipped it to recently.


-As a competitive BBQer your product looks very interesting!  Is there
somewhere in the Central Wisc area that has access to charcoal?
Am always looking for something that could give me an "edge"


Big Briq & Blackwood Canyon

Big Briq Testimonial: Louisville Courier Journal

China Bans Export of Charcoal

Food Industry Research Center: Organic Private Label Trends- September 01, 2004

Washington Post Press Release: Giant Food, Inc Organic Private Label Launch.- September 30, 2004

Kroger Organic Private Label Launch Press Release- May 19, 2003

Charcoal Market Information: Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association