The pros and cons of briquettes vs. lump charcoal
We know briquettes are the junk food of charcoal made from compressed, charred sawdust, wood scraps, and fillers like sodium nitrate, borax, and limestone. The upside? Those uniform little nuggets are cheap, everywhere, easy to light, and burn slower and more evenly than lump charcoal.
Although briquettes are perfectly acceptable in the realm of backyard barbecue, nerds and purists tend to use lump charcoal -- plain hardwood "cooked" in a low-oxygen environment to the point of charring without reducing the wood to ash. It's natural, it's more expensive, it lights quickly, it produces less ash, and it burns hotter, cleaner, and faster than briquettes.