Minecraft is quite literally the most popular game of all time. It has been played by more people than any other game on the planet. Given the game’s appeal to our creativity, as well as its incredibly fun and engaging Survival mode, it’s no surprise that this game is so wildly popular.
Naturally, there are plenty of tricks and tips in Minecraft to help you survive and thrive in the world. Today, we plan on covering the most efficient and best fuel sources in Minecraft to keep your furnaces hot and productive.
Table of Contents
Before we get into our ranking, let’s first discuss what smelting is and how it works in Minecraft. If you’re already familiar with this fundamental mechanic, feel free to skip ahead to our ranking. If you’re just starting your mining and crafting journey, however, take some time to go over this quick tutorial.
In the game, players can craft a block called a furnace. Furnaces are made by arranging eight blocks of cobblestone, cobbled-deepslate, or blackstone on the outer edges of a crafting table, leaving one empty space in the middle. Crafting this recipe will reward you with one single furnace.
From there, you can right-click it to enter into its interface. Doing this allows you to place an item — iron ore, for example — in the top slot. You can then place a fuel source in the bottom slot to power it. The furnace will turn on and begin to smelt or cook the item you placed inside. You can use this to cook raw food to better fill your hunger bar, or smelt various ores to upgrade your tools, weapons and armor.
As you can imagine, it’s important to keep your furnaces going and constantly smelting new materials. You can’t escape the need for fuel, whether you’re a new player or a veteran. You’ll also want to spend as little time as possible worrying about gathering fuel and micromanaging your resources. To that end, using the most readily available and efficient fuel sources will ensure you have plenty of smelted items to work with when you return home.
Best Fuel Sources in Minecraft, Ranked Good to Best
With that in mind, let’s jump into the best fuel sources in Minecraft!
The first and easiest to obtain fuel source in the game is wooden planks. Wooden planks are one of the most basic items in the entire game, and they’re needed to kickstart your adventure when you first create a new Survival world.
Wooden planks can be gathered by chopping down any tree. Place the wooden logs in your crafting table, and you’ll get a total of four planks for every wooden log. This quadruples your fuel supply!
Wooden planks are far from being an efficient fuel source time-wise. Every single wooden plank can only smelt 1.5 items. The benefit to using them, however, is their abundance and how easy they are to obtain. Trees are basically everywhere in the overworld and require little effort to chop down. While you will want to move on to another fuel source fairly quickly, wooden planks are perfect for the early game.
The next fuel source on our list is charcoal. Charcoal is an item that looks and acts very similarly to coal. It even shared the exact same texture at one point. Unlike coal, however, you don’t need to go underground to get it. Charcoal can be obtained by smelting one log into the top space of a furnace instead of the bottom space (which would consume it as fuel).
Once the furnace is finished making your charcoal, you can place it back into the furnace as fuel to smelt up to 8 items! This is noticeably better than the wooden planks mentioned earlier. And, since you can also acquire charcoal from the same source — trees and wooden logs — it’s just as easy to obtain. The only downside is that you need to smelt it in a furnace first, but that’s no big deal in the long run.
Again, like the wooden planks, charcoal is meant to be an early game source of fuel. It’s excellent if you don’t feel like braving the mines for coal, which is more dangerous to obtain. Once you get some better armor and equipment, you can take on some more challenging mobs and areas of the game to get some even better fuel sources.
Blaze Rods are next on our list of the best fuel sources in Minecraft! These are a mid-game item that can be obtained by venturing inside the Nether, a Hellish world containing creepy monsters and loads of valuable resources. Blaze rods are dropped from Blazes, flying enemies that shoot fireballs at you. They spawn naturally inside Nether Fortresses, which are naturally generating structures in the Nether.
Blaze Rods can be used as a fuel source, and can smelt exactly 12 items for each and every rod. This is a +50% increase from the charcoal mentioned earlier. Due to how difficult Blazes are to kill (especially in groups), this fuel source can be a hassle to get a hold off. It also takes time to obtain. Most Blazes will only drop one Blaze Rod (if any) each time they’re killed. Because of this, you might want to skip this fuel source…
…unless you know how to farm it effectively. On YouTube, there is an abundance of tutorials on how to create an effective Blaze Rod farm. I recommend this one, published by Minecraft YouTuber wattles. Additionally, if you have a sword enchanted with Looting III, it will increase the number of Blaze Rods dropped from Blazes. The number goes from 0–1 per blaze all the way up to 0–4 per Blaze!
Block of Coal
The next one on our list is blocks of coal! These are a fuel source that not many players use, but it’s still one of the most efficient means of smelting items in the game. One block of coal can be crafted with nine pieces of coal (taking up every single space in a 3×3 crafting grid). The most effective way of obtaining coal is going deep unground and mining it the old-fashioned way.
Blocks of coal are a great fuel source, because just one can smelt up to 80 items! This is an insane increase over the 12 items that Blaze Rods can smelt at once. Since coal blocks can be fully stacked in a furnace, you can smelt up to 5,120 items before needing to refuel.
Coal in general is fairly easy to obtain and can be commonly found above ground. Just keep in mind that getting large quantities of it at once can be time-consuming. I recommend using a pickaxe with the Fortune III enchantment. This will increase the amount of coal dropped per ore from 1 to 1–4! Using this makes getting coal much less grindy.
For our next fuel source on the list, we’ve got a very strange one…lava buckets! Lava buckets have been a fuel source for an incredibly long time. Despite this, they’re rarely ever used by players. All you need to do to get a bucket of lava is create a bucket using three iron laid out in a V-shape along the crafting grid. After that, just go underground or to the Nether and right-click the lava with the bucket.
Lava is, without a doubt, the most fuel-efficient resource in the game. One bucket of lava can smelt exactly 100 items! This is an insane amount, so why don’t players use it more? It’s most likely because buckets of lava cannot stack, and you need to manually load another bucket in after each and every use. Despite this, I still think this is one of the best sources.
Once you have access to the Nether, acquiring lava becomes incredibly easy. All you need to do is pop in with a few buckets and you can harvest as much lava as you need. This fuel source is a bit situational, and it’s best reserved for smelting large amounts of items at once. So if you’ve just come back from mining with lots of ores or have lots of food to cook, you should use lava to smelt them!
Up next is bamboo! Bamboo is a very interesting fuel source, as it’s simultaneously the absolute least effective fuel source while also being one of the absolute best fuel sources. One single piece of bamboo can only smelt a measly 0.25 items. This makes it one of the worst fuel sources when talking about pure efficiency.
That said, bamboo can be easily grown and harvested by players. It is one of the fastest-growing plants in the game, and you can have a farm overgrown with them in no time at all. All you need to do is find some bamboo growing naturally in a jungle biome, get some redstone, then set up your farm.
If you’ve got the smarts, you can set your farm up to automatically feed into all of your furnaces! Creating a contraption like this will essentially give you an unlimited fuel source that requires no maintenance or re-stocking. You can find a tutorial by YouTuber TheGamedawg here.
The downside to using bamboo is that you need to be close to your base/the site of the redstone contraption in order for it to be useful. So what fuel source should you use when you’re out in the wild…?
Dried Kelp Block
For our final entry on our list, we have dried kelp blocks as the best fuel source in Minecraft! Dried kelp blocks can be made when you harvest kelp out in the wild, then smelt it into dried kelp. Then, just crafted the dried kelp into blocks by laying it out in every single space in a crafting grid. This will give you one single kelp block, which can be fully stacked inside of a furnace.
One dried kelp block can be used to smelt 20 items. This is much smaller than a lava bucket, but the stacking is key. It is also much less than blocks of coal, but dried kelp blocks are more abundant and easier to obtain. Kelp grows naturally in the overworld underwater. You can quickly and easily harvest them by breaking the bottom block, causing all the kelp above it to split off and float to the top for easy collection.
You can grow an underwater kelp garden and harvest massive amounts of kelp very quickly and easily. One downside to dried kelp blocks is the fact that they need to be smelted before each use, which adds another step to the crafting process. Overall, dried kelp blocks are a nice mix of having good fuel efficiency while also being easy to acquire/get set up.
I would consider bamboo the better option if you don’t mind setting up redstone contraptions and staying close to their base most of the time. But for the player who ventures out away from home often, kelp blocks are better alternative.
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