FOR those serious about barbecue, the right coal can make all the difference.

We explain what to look for when choosing the best coal for BBQ and round up some of the most popular options around.

Different types of charcoal for BBQ

There are three main types of charcoal that you can use for barbecue: lumpwood charcoal, charcoal briquettes and binchotan.

Charcoal briquettes tend to be the most widely available and the cheapest.

It’s made from carbonised wood – usually sawdust or small offcuts – that’s compressed with starch (a binding agent) into the little stackable blocks.

The ingredients vary from brand to brand and some also add flavourings to give a more intense smokey taste, and accelerants like sodium nitrate to help it catch more easily.

They burn longer and more slowly, but at a lower temperature and can produce more ash.

Lumpwood charcoal is much more expensive and is made from whole logs of charred wood. Fans say it gives a better smokey flavour and many like it because it’s more natural, with no additives.

It burns a lot faster and at a higher temperature though, so is more suited for food that needs to be quickly seared. You might also need to break it down into smaller pieces so it can be stacked for lighting.

Top of the range is binchotan, or white charcoal, which is a style that originated from Japan and is traditionally made from ubame oak.

It burns at a much higher temperature and for longer periods of time, and chefs love it because it burns very cleanly, leaving very little ash.

But the authentic product is hard to find and it is very expensive.

We’ve rounded up some of the most widely available barbecue charcoal you can buy below.

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