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How to Get Charcoal in Minecraft

Updated on December 11, 2015
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Dreamhowl has been playing Minecraft since 2012. She enjoys building, farming, and breeding animals in vanilla and modded Minecraft.

What is Charcoal?

In Minecraft, charcoal is an alternative to coal that can be used for all the same purposes excluding crafting blocks of coal in the upcoming update. Coal is harvested from coal ore blocks and are most used as fuel in furnaces (though they are not the most efficient material to use in a furnace). Coal ore is mined with either a wood, stone, iron or diamond pickaxe and is found at any elevation where stone can be found. You should never smelt coal ore, as smelting it will almost always yield the same amount that is put into the furnace.

Coal ore is a necessary resource, but isn't always there when you need it.
Coal ore is a necessary resource, but isn't always there when you need it. | Source

Both coal and charcoal can be used to make torches of the same amount; a torch made with coal is no better than a torch crafted with charcoal. Similarly, ore smelted in a furnace with coal yields no better result than ore smelted with charcoal. Both coal and charcoal last approximately 80 seconds in a furnace. Both materials are one in the same - even the textures for coal and charcoal are identical. So what is the point of using charcoal as opposed to lumps of coal?

Get Minecraft for the PC!

The PC version of Minecraft can be purchased from Minecraft.net or in participating stores for $26.95. The PC game is regularly updated and offers options for texture packs, mods and more. Players can play alone, with friends via LAN or on custom servers.

How to Use Charcoal

When you start a new Minecraft seed, the location isn’t always ideal; sometimes you end up on an island in a water-dominated world, or straight in the middle of a large winter biodome. This is partially why Minecraft players trade their favorite seeds online, and why many Minecraft fan sites list what they title “the best Minecraft seeds” available. Some scenarios where charcoal is a more viable option than coal include:

Let’s face it - coal is an important factor when surviving your first day and night in a new world. Coal provides you with torches to protect yourself from mobs at night. Coal helps you to cook the meat you might round up from a couple of cows or pigs. Coal smelts the iron ore that allows you to make better weapons, armor and tools to find more minerals underground. A Minecraft world without coal is a very limited one. Some players start new worlds until they find a mineral-rich seed; crafting charcoal helps you to survive without coal so you don’t need to restart.

It is difficult to find coal ore in certain seeds or biomes, making charcoal a godsend.
It is difficult to find coal ore in certain seeds or biomes, making charcoal a godsend. | Source

Survival games are popular in multiplayer Minecraft as ways to better enjoy the game. Players face off against each other on a pre-made Minecraft map with a certain purpose; for some, it might be to survive the longest, or reach a specific point on the map. Most player-versus-player multiplayer maps name the last player standing the victor, whether they killed their opponents or simply outlived the fighting. In these situations, most players don’t have time to search for coal, making charcoal a valuable asset. Examples of PvP Minecraft maps include:

  • The Walls

  • SkyWars

  • Hunger Games

PvP maps like the Walls have limited resources and little time to gather them.
PvP maps like the Walls have limited resources and little time to gather them. | Source
Coal and charcoal will craft torches.
Coal and charcoal will craft torches. | Source

Did You Know?

In Skyblock, the player can begin crafting charcoal after they have made a cobblestone generator and crafted a furnace. To make a cobblestone generator, place a bucket of lava one square away from a block of ice, and then break the dirt block between them.The middle block - where lava meets water - will always be cobblestone.

Skyblock is a type of survival map in Minecraft where players are spawned on an island in the sky. The objective is to survive on your sky island without cheating and eventually expand the island. Players start with a chest that contains a bucket of lava and a block of ice, along with a single tree. Using the lava and ice (which becomes water), players can create a cobblestone generator and harvest the tree for wood. Some of the first official challenges of a Skyblock map include:

  1. Build a cobblestone generator
  2. Build a house
  3. Expand the island
  4. Make a melon farm
  5. Make a pumpkin farm
  6. Make a sugarcane farm
  7. Make a wheat farm
  8. Make a giant red mushroom
  9. Craft a bed

Skyblock forces the player to start with only a tree, bucket of lava and block of ice.
Skyblock forces the player to start with only a tree, bucket of lava and block of ice. | Source

How to Get Charcoal

Lucky for us, charcoal is easy to craft and is smelted from a common resource in Minecraft - wood. Smelting blocks of the wood in a furnace will yield charcoal. What do you use for fuel in the furnace if you don’t have coal? Using wood slabs, sticks, saplings or other wood scraps as fuel is suitable, though far less efficient than lumps of coal or charcoal. You can even use a bucket of lava if you have it!

Crafting charcoal requires a furnace, a fuel source and blocks of wood.
Crafting charcoal requires a furnace, a fuel source and blocks of wood. | Source

Charcoal is only one of the many usable fuel sources available in Minecraft. Both coal and charcoal burn the fourth-longest time in a furnace (80 seconds) and can smelt up to eight materials before being consumed. This is far better than cheaper materials, such as wooden stairs, trapdoors or wooden planks. When it comes to resources, it is much more cost-effective to smelt charcoal than it is to simply use your junk wood and materials to smelt items in your furnace. If you don’t have coal, don’t hesitate to make some charcoal!

Fuel Types and Efficiency in Minecraft

Fuel Type
Burn Time (seconds)
Burn Amount (items)
Lava Bucket
1000
100
Block of Coal
800
80
Blaze Rod
120
12
Coal
80
8
Charcoal
80
8
Wood
15
1.5
Chest
15
1.5
Stick
5
0.5
Sapling
5
0.5
Charcoal is not the most efficient fuel source, but it is among the top five.

How often do you use charcoal?

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Charcoal is great to have in a pinch, whether you are playing alone on a survival world or against your friends (and enemies!). While not the most efficient fuel source in the game, charcoal is both easy and cheap to craft. If night is falling and you have yet to find coal ore to make into torches, smelt some wood down in your furnace and get some charcoal!

© 2013 Jessica Marello

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