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There are a multitude of ways you can barbecue today, with gas fuels, wood chips and propane trying to overtake the number one spot on the bbq fuel lists.

However, because of its popularity due to the accessibility and low cost, charcoal is one of the most common means of fuel used for barbecues throughout the United States. That’s why it has become synonymous with the term ‘barbecue.’

Of course, the charcoal barbecue grill has become a long established tradition, as it almost seems you can’t have one without the other. Some barbecue grills when purchased, even come with a complementary bag of charcoal. This is always a nice free perk but the act of giving the consumer a bag shows the charcoal has come to be referred to as the number-one fuel source for barbecues.

The irony about this in reality is that charcoal’s probable one of the most health-threatening fuel sources employed for cooking. Aside from the plethora of other chemical toxins as pollutants given off, charcoal dispels large concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO). The carbon monoxide, if ingested, can cause respiratory problems and can also cause damage to environmental surroundings. This effect is like hitting two birds with one stone without even trying.

In addition to the above dangers is the fact charcoal does not contribute in promoting flavor in any food cooked except the now-famous charbroil taste. Of course, many people have come to love and desire the charcoal taste every spring and summer. This flavor has also become synonymous with barbecues, hence the notion the term ‘charcoal barbecues’ can be considered a redundancy for those who prefer to cook this way.

Lump coal is an interesting alternative to charcoal, but can give similar results. This material is not processed and is still in raw form, but it emits no (or minimal) unhealthy or damaging chemical residue. The wood component does offer many different flavors, from oak to mesquite to hickory, depending on the type of wood is used.

One benefit however is that lump charcoal burns cleaner than regular charcoal. Lump coal is essentially wood chunks transferred into coal briquettes, so the material provides cooks and eaters the best of both worlds as far as cooking and eating go.

However, the one disadvantage to lump coal is the fact it is not readily accessible and so is a bit higher in cost. The better commodities are usually this way. Still, those who wish to have a charcoal barbecue with lump coal can find it with a bit of effort and research, online or offline.

All in all, if you crave the taste of charbroiled barbecue but are worried both about the environmental disadvantages of grilling with charcoal and the toxins it can possibly infuse into the foods cooked upon it, lump coal is a great alternative.