The difference Between Coal and Charcoal is their formation. When the remains of plants and animals transform into fossil fuel, it forms coal.
Coal and Charcoal are not pure carbon. They are in the improper states of carbon and are known as ‘carbon compounds.’ People always confuse these two compounds, although they are differently formed and used.
- Coal is a natural resource formed by decomposing plant matter, whereas charcoal is made from burning wood in a low-oxygen environment.
- Coal has a higher energy content and burns hotter than charcoal, while charcoal burns more cleanly and is often used in cooking and grilling.
- Coal is widely used in electricity generation and industrial processes, while charcoal is used primarily in cooking, heating fuel, and producing activated carbon.
Coal vs Charcoal
Coal is a fossil fuel that is primarily made up of carbon, while charcoal is produced by burning wood in a low-oxygen environment. While coal has a higher energy content and burns at a higher temperature, charcoal is considered to be a more sustainable fuel source with lower environmental impacts.
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They appear in amorphous shapes and look similar. But after close observation, it is noticeable that the former is mainly found in combustible black or dark brown rock colors and can vary with different types.
On the contrary, the latter only appears in the porous black color.
|Parameters of Comparison||Coal||Charcoal|
|Meanings||Coal is a sedimentary rock composed of carbon with an evident quantity of other elements, including sulfur, nitrogen, and hydrogen.||Charcoal is an improper form of carbon acquired by the biased burning of carbonaceous substances in the presence of limited oxygen.|
|Occurrence||It naturally occurs from fossil fuels.||It occurs naturally or artificially from burning the carbonaceous materials.|
|Formation||When the remains of plants and animals transform into fossil fuel, it forms coal.||When water and other volatile substances are removed from the carbonic compounds, their left residues form charcoal.|
|Duration||Coal can take centuries to form.||Charcoal can take very little time to form.|
|Mineral||Coal is a mineral that is why it is mined-out.||Charcoal is not a mineral, so it does not need mining.|
|Density||Coal is more dense than charcoal.||Charcoal is less dense than coal.|
|Permeability||It is less porous than charcoal.||It is more porous than coal.|
|Heat production||It produces more heat as compared to charcoal.||As compared to coal, it produces less heat.|
|Color Appearance||Its appearance varies with its different types. But it is mainly found in combustible black or dark brown rock colors.||It appears in a porous black color.|
|Types||Lignite, Anthracite, Peat, Bituminous, and Sub-bituminous are the main types of coal.||Its main types are Common, Lump, Sugar, Briquettes, Activated, Extruded, and Japanese charcoals.|
|Usage||It is used for industrial purposes and heating systems.||It is used for cooking, barbeques, purification, and other domestic purposes.|
|Environmental Impacts||Air Pollution, Displacement of People, etc.||Deformation, Soil Erosion, Desertification, etc.|
What is Coal?
Coal is a fossil fuel produced by decomposed plants, animals below high temperature, and pressure underneath the Earth’s crust over centuries. It is a natural phenomenon.
Its sedimentary ore consists of carbon with an evident concentration of other elements, including sulfur, nitrogen, and hydrogen.
When the remains of plants and animals transform into fossil fuel, it forms coal. It can take millions of years for that. It is also a mineral that is why it is mined-out like any other mineral.
It produces more heat as compared to charcoal. It is more dense than charcoal and is less porous. Lignite, Anthracite, Peat, Bituminous, and Sub-bituminous are its main types.
For industrial purposes and heating systems, it is most useful. Its appearance varies with different types. But it is mainly found in combustible black or dark brown rock colors.
Coal mines can affect its surroundings by creating problems like Air Pollution, Displacement of people.
What is Charcoal?
Charcoal is a black, porous solid acquired by the partial combustion of wood and other similar substances.
Charcoal is an impure form of carbon obtained by the partial burning of carbonaceous materials in the presence of limited oxygen. It occurs naturally or human-made from burning the carbonaceous materials.
After removing water and other volatile substances from the carbonic compounds, their left residues form charcoal. It can take very little time for its formation. It is not a mineral, so it does not need mining.
It is less dense than coal. It is more porous than coal.
As compared to coal, it produces less heat. It appears in a porous black color. Common, Lump, Sugar, Briquettes, Activated, Extruded, and Japanese are its main types.
It is useful for cooking, barbeques, purification, and other domestic purposes. It can cause environmental problems such as Deformation, Soil Erosion, Desertification, etc.
Main Differences Between Coal and Charcoal
- Coal naturally occurs from fossil fuels, whereas charcoal appears either naturally or human-made from burning the carbonaceous materials.
- Coal can take centuries to form. While Charcoal forms quite rapidly.
- When the remains of plants and animals mutate into fossil fuel, it forms coal. Conversely, after removing water and other volatile substances from the carbonic compounds, their left sediments form charcoal.
- The previous is a mineral that is why it is mined-out. On the contrary, the succeeding is not a mineral, so it does not need mining.
- The first produces more heat as compared to the second.
- Coal is denser than charcoal.
- Coal is less porous than charcoal.
- The appearance of the former varies with different types. But it is mainly found in combustible black or dark brown rock colors. And the latter appears in a porous black color.
This Article has been written by: Supriya Kandekar
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Piyush Yadav has spent the past 25 years working as a physicist in the local community. He is a physicist passionate about making science more accessible to our readers. He holds a BSc in Natural Sciences and Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science. You can read more about him on his bio page.