We recently decided to try grilling with hardwood lump charcoal rather than with the usual Kingston briquettes. What is hardwood lump charcoal, you ask? The usual process of making charcoal starts with a slow burning of wood that is densely packed under long metal sheets. The fire slowly moves through the wood burning off everything until you are left with large chunks of pure carbon (hardwood lump charcoal). From here, the wood is mixed with some chemicals (I don't know what they are, but this doesn't sound good to me) and tightly packed into what everyone knows as briquettes.
Why use hardwood lump charcoal?
As far as I know, the point of grilling over an open fire is to sear your food with extremely high heat and hopefully impart some of the wood aroma into your food. Hardwood lump charcoal burns much hotter (and quicker) than briquettes allowing you more control of the grill temperature, produces less ash, has no chemicals, actually smells like wood, and provides a cheap light show (during grilling, small air pockets in the wood pop and send sparks up into the air).
So we grilled some flatiron steaks using this new method and were amazed by the results. The high heat produced an excellent sear without overcooking the inside. I'm pretty sure we'll never go back to Kingston briquettes unless the landlord forbids us from using this stuff (I almost burned down the neighbor's deck).