Best Charcoal for Forging in 2021 (Reviews and Comparison)

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Choosing the best charcoal for forging is one of the first steps to determine how successful a project might be. Blacksmiths need to heat up metals to optimal working temperatures so they become malleable, and now you can start moving some metal. Wait too long and you might cook your metal, too soon and you might introduce cracks.

Your skill level and experience invariably play a huge role in success such as finding ways to troubleshoot problems or gauging temperature by eye. Give yourself the best chance for success by choosing the best tools at your disposal like the right charcoal. The right charcoal helps you quickly heat the metal and control the temperature.

Let’s explore some great charcoal products that will help you achieve your full potential by giving you the best chance for success. The right charcoal lets you command the heat, and the master of the heat rules the forge.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal - 35LB

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
  • Weight: 35 lb Bag
  • Waterproof & Re-sealable Bag: Yes
  • Efficiency: Burns for hours and can burn hotter if needed
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Cowboy 24220 Lump Charcoal, 20-Pound

Cowboy 24220 Lump Charcoal
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Waterproof & Re-sealable Bag: No
  • Efficiency: Great efficiency
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Fogo Super Premium Oak Restaurant All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal for Grilling and Smoking, 17.6 Pounds

Fogo Super Premium Oak Restaurant All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
  • Weight: 17.6 lbs
  • Waterproof & Re-sealable Bag: No
  • Efficiency: Excellent efficiency
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Kamado Joe KJ-Char Big Block

Kamado Joe KJ-Char Big Block
  • Weight: 50 lbs
  • Waterproof & Re-sealable Bag: Convenient storage box
  • Efficiency: Excellent efficiency
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Char-Broil Center Cut Lump Charcoal, 11 lb

Char-Broil Center Cut Lump Charcoal
  • Weight: 11 lbs
  • Waterproof & Re-sealable Bag: Convenient storage box
  • Efficiency: Good efficiency
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Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal - 35LB

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Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal - 35LB

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Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal - 35LB

Specification

Weight35 lb Bag
Waterproof & Re-sealable BagYes
EfficiencyBurns for hours and can burn hotter if needed

The zip lock bag is one of the very first features you’ll recognize and appreciate about this product. The chunk sizes were very similar, unlike other products where you will get varying sizes leading to uneven heating. Another highly commendable aspect is the lack of dust and broken bits of charcoal in the bottom of the bag.

The smoke’s faintly medicinal scent stems from the Quebracho Blanco, a South American hardwood tree, used to make the charcoal. The real beauty is that it is 100% natural and doesn’t have any extra chemicals to worry about. You won’t introduce other alien elements to your metal as you forge.

WHAT WE LIKE

This charcoal burns quickly and burns hot, so you can fire up your forge and heat your metal in a flash. You will find very few charcoals to match this speed. Surprisingly, it burns longer than other charcoal and burns hotter than wood and briquettes. It will last for more than four hours burning in an open forge.

An added bonus is that it doesn’t pop or spark like other charcoal. It burns clean leaving little residue and creates little smoke.

PROS

  • Burns for hours hot and consistently.
  • Doesn’t have thick smoke or leave ash residue.
  • Can be heated to higher temperatures to heat metal faster.
  • Waterproof bag.

CONS

  • Relatively expensive.
  • Smoke may smell funny to some.
  • Some bags may have smaller pieces.
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Cowboy 24220 Lump Charcoal, 20-Pound

Specification

Weight20 lbs
Waterproof & Re-sealable BagNo
EfficiencyGreat efficiency

WHAT WE LIKE

Cowboy makes its 24220 Lump Charcoal from hardwood, specifically a mix of hickory, maple, and oak. It is very easy to light, and it will give you a long, hot burn to help get you forging quickly. Because it lasts such a long time, it costs less to burn. This charcoal is environmentally sustainable for those who worry about the ecological impact.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

One downside is that you run into some issues of uneven heating due to the fact that it comes from multiple sources of wood. Bad heat distribution throughout your metal can lead to you either cooking your metal or introducing cracks as you hammer. While it might make it good for barbecues, it would be better for forging if it was all uniform charcoal.

This charcoal burns quite cleanly at times and at other times will leave ash residue, so consistency isn’t its strong point in this. The lumps are also not uniform, which means extra care when setting up your forge and possible preparation work if pieces are not sized correctly.

PROS

  • Good value for money.
  • All hardwood charcoal.
  • Environmentally sustainable product.

CONS

  • Good amounts of uncharred wood in the bag
  • Made from three different types of wood.
  • Non-uniform pieces
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Fogo Super Premium Oak Restaurant All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal for Grilling and Smoking, 17.6 Pounds

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Fogo Super Premium Oak Restaurant All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal for Grilling and Smoking, 17.6 Pounds

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Fogo Super Premium Oak Restaurant All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal for Grilling and Smoking, 17.6 Pounds

Specification

Weight17.6 lbs
Waterproof & Re-sealable BagNo
EfficiencyExcellent efficiency

This charcoal comes from some very dense Central American hardwood, which allows it to burn hotter and longer than softwoods. Each piece that goes into the bag is handpicked to ensure good quality before shipping. However, these pieces may break or suffer damage during transport, so don’t be too surprised if you find them broken a bit.

WHAT WE LIKE

Fogo lump charcoal is also all-natural like Jealous devel and does not contain other ingredients that may negatively impact your forging. You’ll be able to quickly heat your metal, which allows you to spend more time forging and less time waiting. Its shape allows for it to burn a long time and have better airflow for temperature control.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

This charcoal shoots sparks, which can be annoying but shouldn’t affect your forging much, just make sure it doesn’t result in uneven heat distribution. Quality control is a bit of an issue at times, and some pieces may be uncharred or irregularly shaped.

PROS

  • Lights up quickly.
  • Burns for a long time.
  • Excellent airflow for increased temperature control.
  • All-natural with no added ingredients.

CONS

  • Shoots sparks.
  • Irregular-sized pieces of charcoal.
  • Big pieces may need to be broken down.
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Kamado Joe KJ-Char Big Block

Specification

Weight50 lbs
Waterproof & Re-sealable BagConvenient storage box
EfficiencyExcellent efficiency

Kamado used a great blend of hardwoods for its product; the burn is pretty uniform. Moreover, it has a nice clean burn and does not leave excessive residue or ash. Kamado Joe’s Big Block burns for longer compared to other charcoal with the same volume and will burn steadily.

WHAT WE LIKE

This charcoal is excellent at giving you the heat control you need for your projects. The chunks in the package are large and will burn to give you that uniform heat, a mark that they have an excellent blend of hardwoods. The waste at the bottom of the package is at a minimum, meaning that you get a higher percentage of usable product per packaged pound.

The box it comes in is sturdy and is possibly the reason the pieces of charcoal are not broken as much as other brands are. The packaging makes storage extremely convenient when you are done.

PROS

  • Great blend of hardwoods for a uniform burn.
  • Long-lasting charcoal that burns hot.
  • Excellent storage box.

CONS

  • Some bad batches filled with mostly unusable pieces.
  • Some issues lighting the charcoal.
  • Pricey.
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Char-Broil Center Cut Lump Charcoal, 11 lb

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Char-Broil Center Cut Lump Charcoal, 11 lb

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Char-Broil Center Cut Lump Charcoal, 11 lb

Specification

Weight11 lbs
Waterproof & Re-sealable BagConvenient storage box
EfficiencyBurns hot for a long time

Char-Broil’s lump charcoal is a bit different from the other brands in our review in that it comes in three-inch uniform briquette size pieces. An interesting feature is that the charcoal all comes from the center of the tree, not branches or bark limbs. This leads to a more uniform burn ensures you don’t get hot or cold spots on your piece.

WHAT WE LIKE

Char-Broil fires the charcoal a little longer to decrease the sparks while burning and the amount of smoke and ash. You get a nice, clean burn with 100% natural, hardwood lump charcoal. Using the center portion of the tree helps to decrease the debris and “gravel” that often accompany charcoal.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

While the intention is to decrease the number of debris and gravel, it’s also quite likely that the shipping leads to excessive jostling. This leads to an inordinate amount of “gravel” in each box.  You will definitely get good pieces, but you will also be stuck with unusable material you paid for.

Char-Broil had an interesting idea, but the finished product doesn’t quite live up to expectations, especially considering the price.

PROS

  • Uniform pieces.
  • Convenient storage box.
  • Clean burning.

CONS

  • Highly pricey.
  • Excessive unusable charcoal dust.
  • Good idea but a bad finished product.

Final Thoughts and Verdict

To play devil’s advocate, you will receive bits of unusable charcoal pieces in whatever bag you purchase. Some companies don’t put a premium on proper shipping, so pieces break down. However, even the best companies can’t help what happens when the product goes to a retailer, so expect a bit of gravel.

All of the lump charcoal today used hardwoods, but the one that stands out above others overall is the Jealous Devil Hardwood Lump Charcoal. It is a bit on the more expensive end, but the quality and consistency of the product are worth it. It constantly delivers a good product that will burn hot and burn cleanly. You’ll have a great start with whatever forging projects you have lined up.

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