Better Wood Products Lump Charcoal       Home       Lump Review Index      

Quick Stats
Date Of Review: February, 2020
Purchased From: Donated by the manufacturer
Date Purchased: January, 2020
Price: $17.98
Advertised Weight: 17.6 pounds/8.0 kilograms
Type of Wood: Mexican Oak
Strange Material: See review
Scrap Lumber: None
Smell: Moderately strong wood smoke
Country of Origin: Mexico

Key Performance Indicators (See below)
Chips and Dust:
Max Temperature:
Burn Time:
Ash Production:

Quick Links
Other Information: Click Here
Statements From The Bag: Click Here
Lighting Instructions: Click Here
Safety Instructions: Click Here
Unusual Or Unique Statements: Click Here
Photos of Contents: Click Here
Other Photos: Click Here
Photo of UPC Code: Click Here
Contact Information: Click Here

Rate And Comment On This Charcoal: Click Here


Here we have another charcoal made in Mexico, sent to us by the good folks at Better Wood Products. We have included a map to help you find the location of Mexico. Better Wood Products is a third-generation family owned and operated business. In addition to their lump charcoal, they sell briquettes, various forms of fatwood starters, cedar planks and sheets, and softwood kindling. One interesting note about this company is that they are the originators of the "Three Tree Pledge" which promises to plant 3 seedlings for every tree that is used.

Something that you don't see with other brands of charcoal is the inclusion of four sticks of fatwood fire starter in every bag. What is fatwood? Well, turning to Wikipedia we find:

"Fatwood, also known as "fat lighter", "lighter wood", "rich lighter", "pine knot", "lighter knot", "heart pine" or "lighter'd" [sic], is derived from the heartwood of pine trees. The stump (and tap root) that is left in the ground after a tree has fallen or has been cut is the primary source of fatwood, as the resin-impregnated heartwood becomes hard and rot-resistant over time after the death of the main tree."
Wikipedia goes on further to say:
"The pitch-soaked wood produces an oily, sooty smoke, and it is recommended that one should not cook on a fire until all the fatwood has completely burned out."
So, you may wish to think twice about using fatwood in a ceramic cooker since it can smolder and produce undesirable smells if you aren't careful. Otherwise, just be sure to let the fatwood completely burn up before placing your food on the fire.

But on to the lump charcoal! As we stated earlier this lump is made in Mexico. It is made from up to three different species of Mexican oak, the mix of the different species depending on where their current supply of wood is being harvested. The three species are Quercus carmenensis (Mexican Oak), Quercus polymorpha (Mexican White Oak) and Quercus oleoides (Encina or Encino).

So, like always the first thing we do is pour a bag of the charcoal out so we can examine and sort it. We found no scrap lumber or rocks. We did find one small strip of the plastic used to make things like tarps and sacks. There was one small piece of uncarbonized wood in the bag.

Next, we sort the contents of the bag into large, medium and small pieces, and then chips and dust. You can see the distribution of sizes in this photo and by weight in the table below:

Large 3.6 pounds 20.0%
Medium 4.8 pounds 26.8%
Small 8.0 pounds 44.6%
Chips/Dust 1.5 pounds 8.6%

Total 17.9 pounds

As you can see, the bag contained 0.3 pounds more charcoal than its labeled weight of 17.6 pounds. 8.6% of the bag was chips and dust, which is low compared to other brands tested. Also, you can see that almost half the bag was large and medium sized chunks, so the size distribution was pretty good overall.

In our lighting test, it took 4 sheets of paper to get a fire started in a chimney starter. This is average compared to other brands tested. While the charcoal was starting, there was a small amount of sparking and no popping. The smell of the charcoal as it starts is a moderately strong wood smoke.

Next we tested the charcoal for maximum burning temperature. The charcoal reached 1089°F which is very high compared to other brands tested. In fact, this places it in the top 10 charcoals that we have ever tested. While the charcoal was igniting and coming up to temperature there was a small amount of sparking and no popping. The fire spread with moderate speed.

Next we test the burn time of a fixed weight of charcoal as well as the ash produced by this burn. The burn time was high, compared to other brands tested, and the ash prouction was low. When starting the charcoal for the burn time test, we use a MAP-Pro torch and the sparking was considerable. Be sure to take appropriate precautions when starting this or any other charcoal with a torch.

Better Wood Products Lump Charcoal is a very good product. It scores well in all categories except for being average in ease of lighting. It burns hot and long and produces a reasonably small amount of ash. We give it our Recommended rating.

Better Wood Products Lump Charcoal can be purchased in 8.8 pound bags at Food Lion Supermarkets around the southeast, and in 17.6 pound bags nation-wide in specialty grocery stores. The suggested price at the time of this revew is $8.99 on the 8.8 pound bags and $17.98 on the 17.6 pound bags.

To the left is the rating that our readers have given this charcoal. If you have used this charcoal and would like to rate it and leave your comments, Click Here

To view reader ratings of all brands, Click Here.

Other Information

Included in the bag are some free fatwood fire starters. The following information is printed on the bag:

"Stick with Natural. Fatwood Firestarter©", "Free Inside"

"Unlike other starters which can add undesirable flavors to your cooking, our Better Wood Products® FATWOOD Firestarter Sticks® are a safe, 100% all natural, chemical-free way to start any fire. When cooking with high-quality 100% hardwood lump charcoal we always recommend using Fatwood for healthier cooking."

Statements From The Bag

"Premium 100% Natural Lump Charcoal", "No additives", "Burns Hotter", "Better Naturally"

"Kiln fired — and packaged in its natural lump shape with NO additives or chemicals — Better Wood Products® 100% ALL NATURAL HARDWOOD LUMP CHARCOAL is easy to light and burns hot to seal in moisture and sear in flavors."

"Get that backyard barbeque or gourmet grill going with bold, open-fire flavor that only our 100% ALL NATURAL HARDWOOD LUMP delivers. Our lump charcoal reaches optimal cooking temperature in approximately 15 minutes — so you will be cooking in no time. Whether slow cooking or quick grilling, kick up the flavor of beef, chicken, pork, or seafood with our 100% ALL NATURAL HARDWOOD LUMP CHARCOAL and see why natural really is better."

"Better is not just a philosophy — it is the foundation of everything we do at Better Wood Products®. Better is a third-generation, family owned and operated business with over 80 years of experience. Better is the establishment of the 'Three Tree Pledge Program' for sustainable forestry. Better is an entire family of products that are all natural and of the highest quality. Try one of our many Better Wood Products® on your next camping trip, cookout or culinary adventure."

"Better for your family. Better for the Environment. Better Wood Products®"

"Product of Mexico", "Member of HPBA Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association"

Lighting Instructions

"How to Use:

1) Open air vents on grill. Arrange charcoal to form a pyramid. As you build the pyramid, insert 2 to 3 pieces of FATWOOD Firestarter® throughout the pile so that the ends of he wood stick out leaving 1-2 inches of space between Firestarter Sticks and charcoal for air circulation. If a liquid firestarter is used, let it soak approximately 15 minutes before lighting.

2) Light the ends of FATWOOD and leave the fire uncovered. If a liquid firestarter is used, light at several places.

3) When coals are ashed over and Fatwood sticks have completely burned, it is safe to begin cooking (10-15 minutes).

Safety Instructions

"WARNING: Never use gasoline to light a fire. Do not add lighter fluid directly to burning or hot charcoal. This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm."

Unusual or Unique Statements


The Ruler Used In The Following Photographs

We use the following ruler in the photographs which follow. The black and white segments are
1 inch long. The upper scale is in inches, while the lower scale is in centimeters. The distance
between the centers of the two targets is precisely 9 inches.

Photos Of Contents

This photo is an overall view of the contents of the bag.

Here is a closer view.

Here are the larger pieces we found in the bag.

Here is a closeup of a piece of plastic we found in the bag. Also, this picture shows the one small piece on uncarbonized bark we found in the bag.

Here are the contents of the bag sorted into large, medium, small, and too small/chips/dust.

Other Photos

This is how the bags arrived.

This package of 4 firestarter sticks is enclosed in every bag.

Photo of UPC Code

Contact Information

Wood Products International, Inc.
Post Office Box 9544
Savannah, Georgia  31412

Phone: 912-231-0909


About This Review

If you are unfamiliar with our testing procedures, you may wish to read How We Review Lump Charcoal before reading this review. Also, you can read How We Score Lump Charcoal to learn about our scoring system.

Prices listed in our reviews are current as of the date of the review. We do not attempt to keep these prices current.

The conclusions and final rating given any charcoal are based upon the opinion of the author. We recommend that you use our rating only as a guide. You should read the entire review and decide what is important to you in making any buying decision.

Performance ratings are designated with stars, 1 star being the worst and 5 stars being the best:

= Performance is Far Below Average
= Performance is Below Average
= Performance is Average
= Performance is Above Average
= Performance is Far Above Average

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon at the bottom right corner. Click on the icon to display the image in a new larger window. If you wish to ensure that you are seeing photographs the same way that we are seeing them, we recommend that you calibrate your monitor to a PC-normal gamma of 2.2. You should be able to see the difference between blocks A, B and C below, as well as the difference between blocks 3, 4 and 5.


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