Charcoal briquettes are man made from processing hardwood and using a binding agent. Coal comes straight out of the ground as a mineral. The third option is lump charcoal which is also manufactured. Some of the more learned folks will be along shortly to explain the different processes in the production. The two we use in smokers are charcoal briquettes and Lump charcoal. Coal is not used in smokers Probably because it has a lot of impurities in it.
Thanks GnuBee, I guess I should have made my question a little bit clearer. I knew that they made Charcoal briquettes from process hardwoods. In fact I remember watching a program called "How they do that" and that segment they showed that the sawmills would sell their sawdust to the Charcoal manufacturers. They would form it and process it into briquettes.
I don't know a whole lot about Coal. I knew that the coal had impurities in it, so I wondered about it when I heard one time about cooking with Coal. I sure wouldn't want a Black Cloud over my smoker when cooking!
The most important thing that I'm looing for is large quanities and whole sale prices. I'm not interested in buying them at my local groceries prices.
Thomas with the smoker you planning I would be burning straight wood. There is a pretty good availability of oak, cherry, and hickory around this area if you know where to look. I start my reverse flow with a weed burner and use no charcoal at all