View Full Version : Which is healthier: pellet smoking or charcoal smoking?

03-06-2019, 07:06 AM
We currently own a pellet smoker that we have had some problems from and kinda on the fence of whether to go back to a WSM or maybe an offset smoker both of which we would fuel by charcoal and wood chunks for smoke. Which is ultimately healthier - pellets or charcoal?

03-06-2019, 07:22 AM
Raw vegetables and lots of exercise.

Seriously, I think the biggest difference would be to have a cooker where dripping fat doesn’t burn. It is my understanding that the burning fat is the biggest source of carcinogens in BBQ.

03-06-2019, 07:24 AM
Your going to be disappointed if you get an offset and try to use it like a charcoal cooker.
I would think that eating pellets or charcoal wouldn't be to healthy, best to stick with intended usage :)


smoke ninja
03-06-2019, 07:26 AM
Raw vegetables and lots of exercise.

Seriously, I think the biggest difference would be to have a cooker where dripping fat doesn’t burn. It is my understanding that the burning fat is the biggest source of carcinogens in BBQ.

is that risk related to vaporized drippings?

I thought it had to do with burning fats and oils and consuming said burned food/oil?

03-06-2019, 08:34 AM
I think it depends on which pellets and which charcoal. A super clean burning charcoal like a coconut lump or something like that would probably have less particulate matter than pellets, but pellets burn so efficiently that unless it’s a very high quality charcoal I would think a pellet would burn cleaner.

03-06-2019, 09:19 AM
Nobody gets out of here alive, do whatever makes you happy.

03-06-2019, 10:32 AM
We have all been dying, a little bit at a time, since the day we were born. The older I get, the more I intend on enjoying the rest of the ride. Consuming GOOD barbecue IS on that list, within reason, worrying about what will shorten my journey.....isn't beneficial to my overall health. What does or doesn't cause cancer is also extremely variable, depending upon the individual's immune system. I believe that cancer exists within each and every one of us, BUT as long as our immune system isn't compromised.....it remains dormant. JMHO

03-06-2019, 11:42 AM
I honestly don’t know the answer to your question. I deeply believe that cooking your own food the majority of the time gives you better control of your destiny. Watch the Gordon Ramsey makeover shows and what’s discovered in commercial kitchens. Read Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. I worked in a low volume country club kitchen part time in my youth. Kind of off putting.

There may well be something to worry about, but I’m not going to worry about it.

03-06-2019, 02:40 PM
I think the Best Bet is to have one of each and alternate your cooks -that way you have a good balance of carcinogens.

03-06-2019, 02:53 PM
I'm with Adams on this one. Living in a city exposes you to more than any BBQ and I still think the link to this causing an increased risk of cancer was funded by vegans!

03-06-2019, 03:07 PM
Liquid smoke and a crock pot.


Seriously, though...just try not to lock yourself in your cooker while it's going and you should be fine for the foreseeable future.

03-06-2019, 03:50 PM
Lots of factors go into the decision as to which grill or smoker to buy. IMO, which one puts out the most carcinogens should not be one of them.

03-06-2019, 03:57 PM
you should have atleast 2 types. Get a Better Pellet pooper - I Vote Rectec- And a WSM or Drum Smoker. Then you are Good regardless of weather,Power outages etc........

03-06-2019, 04:00 PM
I think that eating large quantities of BBQ will have much of a profound effect on your health than any effect the pellets or coal may have on your food. I don't think it'd be enough of a difference to make it determine what kind of cooker you get. Choosing a cooker is difficult enough for most people don't complicate it more with theoretical ideas.

that being said charcoal is more organic so its for sure healthy(er) than pellets:icon_smile_tongue:

03-06-2019, 07:47 PM
Just use grass fed organic meats and you will be fine. It will neutralize all the carcinogens caused by smoking with pellets/wood/charcoal.

03-07-2019, 02:41 AM
As of 2016, the average American life expectancy is almost 80 years. In my family, I've seen what the quality of life is after 70 years old. I set 70 as my goal, anything beyond that is gravy (a bonus). I'll take quality these next 15 years over quantity any day. Eat what you enjoy...

Monkey Uncle
03-07-2019, 06:47 AM
This thread prompted me to do a few minutes of google searching, so now I'm an expert on the topic. :roll:

It seems there are three sources of carcinogens in smoked/grilled meats: (1) curing salts (mostly in cold-smoked meat), (2) HAAs, which are caused by cooking at high temperatures, and (3) PAAs, which are contained in the smoke.

Intake of curing salts can be reduced by eating less cured meat. Intake of HAAs can be reduced by cooking low and slow. One of the sources linked below suggests that PAAs can be reduced by keeping your smoke clean. They did it by using a filter, but it seems to me that burning a clean fire ought to work also. Another of the sources (first link) suggests that smoking with softwood is a really bad idea, but you already knew that.

As to the original question, I have no idea whether a pellet smoker or UDS is better, since I've never used a pellet smoker. But in theory, whichever one produces cleaner smoke might be a little less unhealthy.




03-07-2019, 10:04 AM
Everyone who has died has drank water. Just let that sink in.

03-07-2019, 10:13 AM
My grandpa died in his sleep in his late 80s after working cattle that same day. He chewed tobacco and drank bourbon EVERY day. He ate eggs and bacon at the local greasy spoon after he fed EVERY day.

Intellectually, I know that diet has some significance.l but I think the amount of exercise that you average and your DNA cannot be overridden by good dietary practices. So I say keep moving, eat your Q and pray for good genetics. Beyond that, don’t worry about it - it won’t help.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

03-07-2019, 10:14 AM
Everyone who has died has drank water. Just let that sink in.

THATS IT!!!! No more water for me! Coffee till it’s time to switch to vodka!

Health wise? More than likely neither one are “healthy.”

03-07-2019, 01:25 PM
I think Select cuts are Healthier than Prime..............

03-07-2019, 01:45 PM
I think Select cuts are Healthier than Prime..............

SRF waygu A5 is probably the most unhealthy grade of beef in the US.

03-08-2019, 12:31 PM
A classic and favorite among purists, the charcoal grill is often heralded as a superior or more authentic way to grill food. Though they come in all shapes and sizes, they all use charcoal briquettes (sometimes mixed with wood chips) or lump charcoal as a fuel source, which produces a distinct, strong and smoky flavor.
On the other hand Pellets for BBQ grills contain all natural food-grade materials, which automatically renders them safer than heating pellets. Whereas heating pellets include softwoods, compressed charcoal, and a variety of fillers that would, without question, leave your food tasting like a chemical disaster, BBQ pellets rely on natural hardwoods. :-o:-o:-o