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Can You Use Wood In A Charcoal Grill?

Can You Use Wood In A Charcoal Grill?

Whether you ran out of charcoal for your last-minute BBQ party or are simply scared of ruining your charcoal grill, no matter what your dilemma is, we are here to help.

For your charcoal grill, it is not a problem to use either charcoal or firewood. However, keep in mind that for firewood, using wood chunks instead of logs is the better way to go. 

Charcoal, both in lump and briquette form, is usually used for charcoal grills and for that reason often pit masters believe that they should only use charcoal for their grills. This is nothing but a myth as instead using firewood would not cause any issues. 

What Are The Benefits Of Utilizing Firewood?

To start, the usage of firewood gives off a rich and regulated smoky taste to your food. Briquette charcoal does not produce any smoke, whereas the smoke given off through lump charcoal might differ from meal to meal. 

With firewood, you can choose between different wood chunks or make a specific combination for the smoky flavor to add to your meal.

That being said, firewood comes in multiple types all having their distinctive flavor. They give off their distinct flavors due to the elements and sugar they contain. These elements are then released when burned, in the form of smoke. 

Furthermore, there is also the benefit that firewood can be lit more easily than charcoal. There is not much need for any fuel or other kinds of fluids to speed up the process. Given that it is dry and well-seasoned, the firewood will light up pretty well.

How To Use Firewood For Grilling

Now that you may be convinced to finally use firewood for your charcoal grill, here are some easy steps to help you get started!

1. Select The Appropriate Firewood

The first step is to select the appropriate firewood for grilling purposes. All firewood has some amount of moisture in it. Firewood with high moisture levels doesn’t burn with much efficiency. 

Before any of the wood is properly burned, the fire will take more energy to burn off the moisture within the wood. Further, it will release more dense smoke and less heat which would make it even harder for the food to cook.

The proper way is to get a kiln of dried firewood. Rather than using regular outdoor dried firewood, kiln drying gets rid of the moisture trapped in the pores of the wood. This firewood burns with high efficiency and also emits less smoke due to it being incredibly dry. 

This makes it appropriate for grilling and for whoever is nearby the grill, as it will burn a lot cleaner.

2. Place Your Firewood Into Your Grill

Your grill is now ready to receive your choice of firewood. Firstly open the grill’s cover, take off the cooking grate, and put the firewood in a compact pile. The middle of the stack should be left free to allow air to pass through. 

It is necessary for an open middle as keeping it too tight might block off oxygen which is required for the fire to burn. The grill might not have enough space to support a full-size stack but you should try to arrange it with an open middle. 

place your firewood into your grill

3. Ignite Your Firewood

Ignite your firewood by stacking a pile of tinder and kindling in the open middle and cautiously placing a little piece of paper, match, etc next to it.

The small tinder and kindling should easily catch fire and soon your firewood will be ablaze. However, avoid using lighter fuel or other fluids, as they can add their chemicals to the smoke thus affecting the overall flavor.

4. Put Your Food After The Firewood Has Burnt Down To A Coal

A mistake often made while grilling with firewood is that the food is introduced too early, meaning the firewood isn’t hot enough and the meal doesn’t get that rich grilling flavor.

The proper way is to wait for about thirty to sixty minutes to let the initial fire flames settle down and the thick white smoke fades away. By this time, the firewood would have been burnt down into smaller coals. 

At this point the coals would have an orangish glow, the temperature would be sufficient and the food is ready to be introduced to the grill. Before adding your food, you need to brush the grate with oil so that it does not stick. 

To speed up or strengthen your fire, you can blow air into the firewood to provide it with more oxygen or even add more firewood. It is also important to know that you might need almost three times more firewood than regular lump charcoal to grill your meal.

5. Keep A Check On Your Food

It is important to regularly check on your food, as it most definitely won’t be fun eating a burnt steak. Different food takes different times to cook but you should at minimum check your food within two to five minutes. 

Food kept over the coals won’t take long to cook and a steak would typically take a few minutes for each side to cook.

It is also important that you don’t cook directly over the fire as mentioned earlier, as the flames would char the exterior of the meat. The coals would provide ideal heat for the meal to fully cook up.

Temperature That Wood and Charcoal Burns At

On average, firewood will provide heat at a lower temperature than charcoal.

Lump charcoal will burn at around 800 to 1100 degrees Celsius, whereas firewood would rapidly reach over 600 degrees Celsius after being lit up. 

However, firewood would turn even hotter as it converts into coals getting hot up to 1000 degrees Celsius which would be more than enough to grill and cook appetizing and flavourful meals.

Final Words for Using Wood in a Charcoal Grill

All in all, while breaking the rules and using firewood instead of charcoal may seem wrong, rest assured as there is absolutely no harm in doing so. 

In fact, you will be benefiting from different aromas and flavors while you are at it. So without any guilty conscience and with the help of our article, pick up your grilling supplies and go get grilling!

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.