Restaurant Grade Charcoal vs Regular Coal

Restaurant Grade Charcoal vs Regular Coal

When considering the difference between restaurant grade charcoal and regular coal (home fuel), the implication is that the ‘restaurant grade’ is going to be not only better but also probably more expensive than the ‘normal’ charcoal.

And while restaurant grade charcoal is going to cost you a little more than some of the brands you’re likely to find at your local DIY store or supermarket, the price difference isn’t actually that great.

But surely, you might also be thinking, there really can’t be that much difference between different types of charcoal anyway? They are, after all, both essentially just blocks of carbon residue that have been formed by burning wood (or occasionally bone or some other organic material) at very high temperatures in the absence of air, aren’t they?

In answer to that, we say yes and no. Let’s find out why.

What’s the difference between household and restaurant grade charcoal?

  • Size

Restaurant grade charcoal is nearly always bigger than the alternatives – and, when it comes to charcoal, size really can matter. That’s because the bigger the piece of charcoal, the stronger and more stable the heat you get. The bigger charcoal blocks also – as you might expect – burn for longer. 

Now, they may all sound like purely practical differences that can have no effect on the final result of your cooking, but that’s not the case. For starters, that extra heat restaurant grade charcoal generates is ideal for grilling steaks in such a way that results in the outside being beautifully seared while all the flavours and juices remain trapped inside. 

Meanwhile, if you have a longer and more stable heat from one set of charcoal blocks, you can concentrate on your cooking rather than having to stop several times over the course of the evening to keep topping it up.

  • Content

While restaurant grade and normal charcoal are both charcoal, they’re not both all charcoal. Many cheaper brands have extra chemicals added that are intended to make getting the fire going easier. Unfortunately, those chemicals can also change the flavour coming from the smoke you get by burning the charcoal.

Meanwhile, lower quality charcoal may also contain more water than its restaurant grade equivalent, which will not only mean that it burns at a lower temperature, but also causes the charcoal to spit and spark more. 

spare-ribs grilled

That may not have a direct effect on the quality of your final food, but it will certainly make the whole experience considerably less enjoyable. And the extra water will also produce more smoke – it just won’t be the kind to impart that mouth-watering smoky flavour that is such an essential element of good grilling.

Will you get better tasting food by using restaurant grade charcoal?

In a word, yes. The clue is in the name. Restaurants live and die by the quality of their food, so they want to know that the charcoal they are using is only of the highest quality. They’re not going to stint on the quality of their ingredients or use below standard equipment, so why would they take a chance by using cheap charcoal?

They know that only 100% natural charcoal produces the flavours that keep customers coming back for more, while also making sure that their chefs can benefit from being able to cook on a long-lasting, stable heat that allows them to work to the best of their ability.

Are there any other benefits to using restaurant grade charcoal?

As we approach Christmas, seasonal markets are springing up in towns and cities across the country, most of which feature stalls selling hot food cooked on site using grills fired by charcoal. As you walk around soaking up the atmosphere, you can often tell the difference between those using good quality charcoal and those using the cheapest they could lay their hands on.

That’s because restaurant grade charcoal doesn’t just make food taste better, it also makes it smell better! And what better way to enjoy that aroma and let it draw you in than when you’re filled with the Christmas spirit and enjoying the conviviality of a crowded market on a cold night? 


Here at KG Smith & Son, we’re proud to be leading suppliers of restaurant grade charcoal to restaurants, chefs and Christmas market stallholders right across the UK. Now also available to restaurants and amateur chefs nationwide, we’re sure you’ll quickly notice the difference when you load up your grill or barbecue with our premier product used by the professionals.

Find out more by giving our team a call or place your order online now and soon you too could be enjoying the benefits of using quality charcoal to grill your food.



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