Charcoal is one of the most widely known and widely used fuel sources in both smokers and grills, even by champion barbecue PitMaster. It is made by partially burning hardwood until it carbonizes. The most common form of charcoal is briquettes. These are all consistent in size and shape and are engineered to provide a consistent and convenient fuel source.
Charcoal briquettes create an optimal amount of smoke, burning at low or high temperatures, which produces that great smoky flavor you are looking for. Charcoal lighter fluid has often been used to start briquettes but can leave a foul chemical taste on the food. The best way to avoid this is to use a chimney starter to ignite your briquettes without any chemical additive. Also, look for briquettes that are not pre-coated in additives to help start them.