A charcoal briquette is an energy-efficient, single ignition unit designed for starting a fire and creating coals for immediate burning. The word comes from the French term briquette, meaning brick ash. They are most often made with cast-iron, a hard, dense metal that makes a good medium for firing. Other materials such as stone, ceramic or steel may be used but they are less common and thus carry a significantly higher cost.
There are four basic types of charcoal briquettes, each having its own distinct appearance and different method of use: lump charcoal, big lump charcoal, concentrated charcoal and custom-made charcoal briquettes. Larger batches can be made from three or four types of charcoal, depending on the needs of the users. Since they are handmade, each batch may take several days to complete depending on the type of charcoal used and the weather conditions. Larger quantities will require more time, so it is best to purchase them in larger quantities than you intend to use.
Big lump charcoal briquettes contain a lot of coarse, unprocessed materials like hay or straw and are great for starting fires in a portable grill or in a campfire. Larger batches can also be made using coals from dead animals like chickens or pigs. Because of the large amount of ingredients in these kinds of charcoal briquettes, they are better suited for cooking than other kinds. A number of people who make use of this product do so because they want to avoid the hassles of manually lighting and starting a fire. This is why they include instructions for making them with a commercially available kit.