Sustainable timber management or overexploitation in primeval forests – where does the wood from which the coal is made come from? Ökotest took a closer look and found a lot of good things. However, three products shine through their lack of transparency.

When it comes to barbecuing, most Germans still carry the good old charcoal with them. But where does the charcoal that creates the heat under the grate actually come from? It’s not about overexploitation in primeval forests, is it? Ökotest examined 18 variants more closely, including solid briquettes and granular charcoal. In addition, two climate-friendly alternatives were examined. And indeed, the strict testers from Ökotest are satisfied with many varieties. Just a branded product doesn’t deliver at all what it says on the box.

Out of 18 products, 7 received top marks in the Ökotest. These include the inexpensive charcoal products “BBQ Grill Charcoal” from Aldi Süd and the “Home Grill Charcoal” from Edeka. After all, three tested products are “good”. However, things are less pleasing at the other end of the ranking. There were three products that did not go beyond a “poor”. Two of them are from the Favorit brand. The problem: lack of transparency. The testers complain that, even when asked, they were not given any information about what wood the charcoal was made of or where it was cut. Only in the laboratory then the clarity. Wood from a (sub)tropical climate was analyzed there.

Charcoal: where does the wood really come from?

The use of such woods can, but does not have to be bad. One side is illegal deforestation and overexploitation. The other is felling such wood when it is ecologically sensible or even necessary. Namibia is such a case. “In Namibia[…] , leftover wood from forest programs is used to stop bush encroachment on pastureland,” writes Ökotest. They therefore come from sustainable timber management. Aldi Süd uses such wood from Namibia for its charcoal. But where does Favorit’s wood come from? Can you buy the coal with a good heart? According to Ökotest, the manufacturer did not answer this question, which in turn raises new questions. And the third black sheep in the bunch, the Weber briquettes, also put the testers in a bad mood. According to the Ökotest, wood from a (sub-)tropical climate was also found in this pack. Woods not specified on the packaging. And shouldn’t be there either. Because the FSC certification on the package only applies to certain European woods.

Ökotest concludes that nobody needs to grill with charcoal made from fossil fuels anymore. According to the testers, they “have not lost anything under the grillage”. The two products in the test are therefore penalized with the rating “insufficient”. New barbecue alternatives made from waste products such as olive stones or coconut shells, on the other hand, did well in the test and, according to the Ökotest, also have a good climate balance.

You can find the entire charcoal test for a fee at