Charcoal v Gas – The Green Question?

Charcoal BBQ       Gas BBQ Flame

We’ve dealt with the charcoal v gas issue in the past, but it has come up in conversations again recently.

There was a study in the United States about the relative carbon footprint from an average charcoal bbq, versus a gas bbq. The study measured a bbq of 35,000 Btu’s per hour, a typical industry baseline. Their calculations showed that gas produced 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide each hour, compared to 11 pounds for charcoal.


No surprise that the study was sponsored by gas producers! So let’s try to balance the argument. What the study didn’t state, was that charcoal is manufactured from a natural and sustainable source, whereas gas is a non renewable fossil fuel based product. Also, charcoal can be produced locally, so there is little by way of transport costs. The transportation map for liquid gas from oil well to consumer, via a refinery is very long indeed. Add to this, the fact that the manufacturing processes for producing liquid gases produces an enormous carbon footprint as does the manufacture of the gas container, governor and pipes.

As with all reports, it’s often what is not covered by the report’s brief that can be more significant. From our perspective, it’s down to how efficient the fuel is for cooking in a particular way.  For our products, rotisserie bbq’s, charcoal wins every time (which is why we don’t sell gas products). Our designs mean that fuel efficiency is very high, so you won’t use a lot of charcoal on a rotigrill. Also, the heat envelope produced by charcoal on our bbq’s is ideal for rotisserie cooking. Added value is that you can put charcoal ashes on your garden.

Gas is not powerful enough and is too direct. To rotisserie successfully on gas, you need to have a lid enclosure, which adds nothing to your bbq cooking experience. In fact, it can trap moisture, which can affect the taste and texture and will certainly do nothing for your crackling. You will have to finish your crackling off on the gas grill after cooking.  BBQ recipes need to be cooked in a different way for each fuel choice.

Our recommendation is to use lump wood charcoal form a local producer. Just search google – they are around.  The thing is to trace the source of your charcoal.  If it has come from tropical hardwood forests, you might like to think again.

The choice is yours.  Everyone seems to have a view and we hope that this article has helped if this issue is important to you.