Should You Use Coconut Charcoal for Barbecue

Did you know that you can use coconut for barbecue? Not to eat but as charcoal. Coconut shells can sustain heat for so long and produce less ash and toxicity since it’s a natural product.

If you ask a hundred pitmasters, you will have at least a hundred different answers on what counts as a good barbeque. However, they will agree that choosing the right charcoal is crucial to get the best result. Different woods have different flavors, burn rates, and many other details. And any subtle difference can go a long way.

Using coconut as a burner may sound unbelievable at first. But let’s get to know more about this alternative charcoal. What are the benefits and should you switch from the traditional timber charcoals?

What is Coconut Charcoal?

If you go to a tropical country, you can see locals barbecuing with coconut shells in their charcoals. The advanced technology turns the coconut byproducts and turns it into briquette forms. You can find these charcoals in cubes, cylinders, and many other builds.

Now, you need to understand that there are no 100% coconut shells in the charcoal. To extend its life and have a uniform quality, the manufacturers will put additives and other ingredients in the mixture. However, they still need to pass numerous certifications to ensure quality. Sustainable and safety labels are two of the most prominent certificates. You can see how most brands proudly put these labels on their products.

Benefits of Using Coconut as Charcoal

These charcoals are eco-friendly and burn great. And they also have more benefits than you can think of. You can highlight the spices and the natural flavor when you use this charcoal on your grill. Numerous professional pitmasters choose coconut as part of their charcoal mix. While others even openly admit that they only use coconut in their smokers.

Odorless and have less ash

Using wood charcoal can leave some faint flavors on the meat. But you won’t experience it with coconut. The charcoal is odorless, so you can enjoy the full meat flavor without any aftertaste. It still gives some smoke scent, something normal and utterly perfect for a smoker. But without the concern of altering the dish’s flavor.

This charcoal also only has an average ash content of 3%. This means, even after it’s fully burnt, you won’t have to deal with lots of white-grey mess to clean with.

Environmentally Friendly

Coconut trees are sustainable and easy to find in numerous areas. The tree can grow up to 30m high and bear at least 75 fruits in a year. Even though native coconuts have the beachside as their habitat, numerous people domesticate other coconut species for other purposes.

 The yearly production of coconut is 60 million tonnes, and 75% of this number is supplied by Indonesia, India, and the Philippines. These three countries’ yearly produce averaging on 15 million tonnes.

Compared to timber-based products, using coconut has more environmental benefits. Remember that you don’t have to cut down any coconut trees to have them as charcoal. The charcoal from this plant used only the shells or byproducts of other industries. That is why even though the demand for briquettes continues to grow over time, there is no concern about the tree’s sustainability.

It is More Affordable

The high sustainability brings up another benefit of this charcoal, namely the price. It’s also because the manufacturers use the byproducts. In many senses, it’s a win-win solution for everyone.  

Even though it’s far more affordable than similar products, the availability may be an issue depending on where you live. Some areas still have timber-based charcoals instead of coconut ones. While waiting for nearby home depot to stock up on this charcoal, you can order the bags from online marketplaces.

It Burns Longer and Hotter

You need to know that there are several grades on charcoals. The better grade means higher coconut content, less addictive, and provides the best overall quality. These charcoals can sustain the heat for longer hours than traditional ones. It’s perfect when you aim for a slow cook like smoking numerous large briskets overnight.

Its ability to sustain heat is thanks to the coconut shell’s rough nature. And the manufacturing process also removes most of its moisture content and has it down to 7%. To compare, natural coconut shells only give you a heating value of 5000 kcal/kg. But if you have it in charcoal form, its heating value rises to 7200 kcal/kg. 

The Cons

This charcoal may be good, but it’s not perfect. It still has some flaws that the critics often highlight. Compared to the timber-based one, coconut takes its sweet time to light. You may need up to ten minutes until the briquette is ready to use. People who prefer a quick grill may dislike this part. But since it burns longer, you can rest assured that it’s worth the wait.

The high demand also causes an issue with counterfeit and low-quality products. As a customer, you need to understand the differences between each charcoal grade before they saturate the market. Always look out for the certifications in the packaging. Some manufacturers will include the QR code for you to scan and

Another issue with this charcoal is limited usage. But this concern hardly holds any ground since coconut-based briquette comes in various sizes and shapes. Thus it helps anyone who wants to use it on a small grill or smoker. Several brands even specifically mention their products’ compatibility.

Other Usages

Since it is odorless and can stay alight longer, this natural charcoal is also popular in numerous shisha bars. You can find coconut briquettes inside the hookah bowl. The consensus agrees that some charcoal improves the flavors. And being natural means it has fewer toxic hazards when you use it as a heat source.

Coconut is one versatile plant. You can drink the water, enjoy the fruit, rest under the tree, and now you also can do a barbecue with its shell. Charcoal has numerous health and environmental benefits compared to timber-based ones. Therefore, you shouldn’t wait any longer to get your hold of a coconut charcoal BBQ at home.

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