Difference Between Coal and Charcoal

Main Difference – Coal vs Charcoal

char and charcoal are carbon-containing compounds. Coal is a aqueous rock. It is chiefly composed of carbon paper along with trace amounts of some other elements such as hydrogen, sulfur, and nitrogen. Charcoal, on the other hand, is an unclean form of carbon paper that is obtained by fond cauterize of carbonaceous materials in the presence of limited oxygen. The chief dispute between coal and charcoal is that coal is a naturally occurring fossil fuel whereas charcoal is formed as a result of burning carbonaceous materials.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Coal
– Definition, Coal as a Fuel, Coalification
2. What is Charcoal
– Definition, Different Types, Uses
3. What is the Difference Between Coal and Charcoal
– Comparison of Key Differences
key Terms : Activated Charcoal, Anthracite, Bituminous Coal, Carbon, Carbonization, Charcoal, Coal, Coalification, Coke, Fossil Fuel, Lignite, Lump Charcoal, Pulverize, Pyrolysis, Subbituminous Coal, Sugar Charcoal, Syngas

Difference Between Coal and Charcoal - Comparison Summary

What is Coal

ember is a combustible black or dark brown rock consisting chiefly of carbonize plant count, found chiefly in underground seams ( ember beds ). It is a carbon-rich material. This compound occurs as a sedimentary rock. Coal is one of the most important fossil fuels used all around the world .
Coal primarily consist of carbon along with some other elements such as hydrogen, sulphur and nitrogen in trace amounts. char is formed when dead animal and plant count undergo biological and geological serve over millions of years. char is obtained from the labor via ember mine .
ember is a good generator of energy. Burning char can be used to produce electricity and heat. char is besides one of the major sources of carbon dioxide released to the environment ; therefore, it plays an crucial function regarding the global warm. There are different varieties of char depending on different parameters. Followings are some examples .

  • Coal type – based on the kinds of plant material involved
  • Coal rank – based on the degree of coalification
  • Coal grade – based on the range of impurities
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Coal as a Fuel

ember is primarily used as a fuel to produce electricity and heat through combustion. The consumption of coal for this purpose is increasing year by class. For the generation of electricity, coal is first pulverized ( reduced to fine particles ) and then burned in a furnace. A kettle, which converts water into steam, is attached to this furnace. The heat produced by combustion of char can boil water system to produce steam. steam is used to spin turbines to generate electricity .
Another access to generating electricity is by IGCC power plants ( Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle exponent plants ). here, coal is gasified to create syngas ( syngas is the short name for synthesis gasoline. It is a fuel gasoline mixture containing hydrogen, carbon paper monoxide like gases ). This syngas is then burned in a gas turbine to generate electricity. This method does not require pulverization .


Coalification is the process in which plant count become converted into coal of increasingly higher rank with anthracite as the concluding intersection. The general succession of coalification is as follows .
Lignite → Subbituminous → Bituminous → Anthracite
Lignite is referred to as brown coal. It is considered as the lowest rate of char. The properties of Subbituminous coal crop from lignite to bituminous coal. Bituminous coal is besides called black ember and is a good rank of coal. Anthracite is a hard, compendious variety of ember that has a submetallic luster. It has the highest carbon content and lowest impurities. It is considered the best rank of ember .
Difference Between Coal and Charcoal microbial bodily process, which helps coalification, takes place from about few meters depth from the earth ’ mho surface. But in higher depths, geological processes should occur for the coalification to be completed. The coalification is influenced by three factors :

  1. Duration
  2. Increasing temperature
  3. Increasing pressure

duration is how much time it is taken to form char. Since the natural coalification serve takes a million years, the duration is undetermined. The temperature increases with depth from ground ’ mho coat ( addition by 30oC per kilometer ). The pressure besides increases with depth. therefore, coalification is immediately affected by temperature and pressure .

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What is Charcoal

Charcoal is a porous black solid, consisting of an amorphous form of carbon paper, obtained as a remainder when wood, bone, or other organic matter is heated in the absence of air. Some coarse types of charcoal are as follows .

  • Coke
  • Carbon black
  • Soot

Charcoal Production Process 

The summons of producing charcoal is known as behind pyrolysis. The output of charcoal is found chiefly in two methods as follows .

  1. Older method of using a clamp. Here, a pile of wood logs leaning against a chimney is used. The wood logs are placed in a circle, and the logs are covered by soil to avoid air entering the pile. Then it is lit using a chimney. Logs burn slowly and turn into charcoal within few days.
  2. Modern method of charcoal production is retorting. Here, heat is recovered from and solely provided by the combustion of gas released during carbonization.

Types of Charcoal

There are few types of charcoal.

  • Common charcoal made from wood, peat, petroleum, etc.
  • Sugar charcoal obtained from carbonization of sugar.
  • Activated charcoal made by heating common charcoal in the presence of some gases that cause the formation of “pores” on the surfaces that cause adsorption. This type is made especially for medical and research uses.
  • Lump charcoal is traditional charcoal made by burning hardwood material.

Main Difference - Coal vs Charcoal There are many uses of charcoal. It is much used as a fuel. Charcoal is used by blacksmiths since charcoal burns at higher temperatures such as 2700oC. As an industrial fuel, charcoal is used for smelting of cast-iron. A most park use of charcoal, specially activated charcoal, is its use for purification purposes. Activated charcoal promptly adsorb chemical compounds such as organic impurities. charcoal can be besides used as a source of carbon in chemical reactions .

Difference Between Coal and Charcoal


Coal: Coal is a combustible black or blue embrown rock consisting chiefly of carbonize plant topic, found chiefly in underground seams ( coal beds ) .
Charcoal: Charcoal is a porous bootleg solid, consisting of an amorphous form of carbon, obtained as a remainder when wood, bone, or other organic matter is heated in the absence of atmosphere .

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Coal: Coal is formed via biological and geological processes that animal and plant material undergo for millions of years .
Charcoal: Charcoal is formed by slow pyrolysis of carbonaceous materials .

Raw Material

Coal: Coal is formed from dead animal and plant materials .
Charcoal: Charcoal is formed from carbonaceous materials .


Coal: The appearance of char depends on the type of char ; anthracite coal has a black, metallic shininess whereas lignite coal has a eyebrow, dull appearance .
Charcoal: Charcoal appears as a porous black firm fabric .


Coal: Coal is a type of aqueous rock candy .
Charcoal: Charcoal is a holey compound that is a residue obtained from bite of wood, peat, etc .


Coal: Coal is used chiefly as a fuel .
Charcoal: Charcoal is used as a fuel, a carbon source, for purification and filtration purposes, etc .


char and charcoal are carbon deep compounds. char is made as a resultant role of biological and geological processes that animal and plant matter undergo for millions of years. Charcoal is a merchandise obtained by boring pyrolysis of carbonaceous materials. The main difference between coal and charcoal is that coal is a naturally occurring dodo fuel whereas charcoal is formed as a result of the sunburn of carbonaceous materials.


1. Kopp, Otto C. “ Coal. ” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 23 Nov. 2017, Available here.
2. “ Coal. ” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Dec. 2017, Available here.
3. Goldwyn, Meathead. “ The Science of Charcoal : How Charcoal is Made and How Charcoal Works. ” Amazing Ribs, Available here .

Image Courtesy:

1. “ Coal anthracite ” By Resourcecommitte.House ( Public Domain ) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “ Charcoal2 ” By The original uploader was Ischaramoochie at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons ( CC BY-SA 3.0 ) via Commons Wikimedia

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