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Best Ways to Get Coal in Minecraft (2024)

Minecraft, the wildly popular sandbox game, presents players with a vast and immersive world to explore and build within. The game offers endless possibilities, from constructing magnificent structures to surviving against hostile creatures. One crucial resource for any aspiring player is coal, a versatile material that serves as a primary source of fuel and facilitates progression. There are a lot of ways to acquire it, and some are better than others. We’ll delve deep underground and get to the bottom of coal mining in Minecraft.

What Is Coal for?

Coal is essential for smelting ores, necessary to keep a furnace running, but most importantly you need it for torches. Torches are important for keeping tunnels lit, which disables monster spawning. You can upgrade your torches with iron to make hanging lamps, projecting more light and reducing how much coal you need to light your property and prevent monster incursions.

A lot of coal deposits in Minecraft
A coal miner’s jackpot. (Image: Mojang via HGG / Nathan Hart)

You’ll also need coal to smelt ore into metals, with it being the most efficient and plentiful fuel resource. Without coal, you can also light a furnace with wood or buckets of lava, but coal is ultimately the most efficient method for smelting. Whenever you mine coal you’ll also receive a decent amount of XP, helping you enchant your items more often and with better enchantments. To improve the efficiency of your coal, you can compress nine small chunks into blocks. Coal blocks burn much longer and don’t need to be replaced as often.

Best Ways to Get Coal in Minecraft

Here are some of the best places to get coal in Minecraft.

Surface Mining

One of the most straightforward methods to acquire coal is through surface mining. Simply explore the game’s terrain, paying close attention to exposed cliff faces, mountains, or even caves. Coal ore deposits often appear as black blocks with dark gray flecks, typically found in abundance near the surface. A wooden or better-quality pickaxe is required to mine coal blocks effectively. Coal generates most often at Y:95, with extremes at either end away from that number making it less common. You’ll hardly find any coal at all down in the deepslate areas of the game.

Coal deposit in the jungle biome in Minecraft
You can even find coal blocks right under the sky, or in this case overgrown by the jungle biomes of Minecraft! (Image: Mojang via HGG / Nathan Hart)

Delving into caves presents a prime opportunity to stumble upon coal deposits. Be prepared with torches to illuminate your path and ensure your safety. Traverse through the winding tunnels, mining any coal ore you come across. Remember to carry extra pickaxes and food for an extended spelunking expedition. Getting ahold of an enchanted pickaxe will make the life of a coal miner much easier, with Fortune in particular reducing how much time you’ll need to spend searching for coal veins.

Strip Mining

If you prefer a more systematic approach, consider strip mining. This technique involves clearing out large areas at varying depths to expose coal seams hidden within the earth. Create a series of horizontal tunnels and clear out all the stone blocks, revealing any coal ore or other valuable materials. While effective, strip mining requires a sturdy supply of pickaxes, as well as torches to light your surroundings and deter hostile mobs.

An example of strip mining tactic in Minecraft
An example of the start of a strip mining operation. (Image: Mojang via HGG / Nathan Hart)

Luckily, you can make these torches on the fly as you mine coal, provided you bring a handful of sticks with you as well. Leave two blocks between each mine shaft you dig, allowing you to see both sides of the walls to avoid missing any ore blocks and wasting pickaxes unnecessarily. Wider shafts can be easier to keep lit, while also being a little safer from Creeper attacks by providing a little room for maneuvering.

Exploring Structures & Fighting Mobs

Minecraft’s vast underground network sometimes features abandoned mineshafts, providing an opportunity to obtain coal in large quantities. These mineshafts are typically found in mesa, plains, or savanna biomes and can extend considerably. With caution, navigate through the dark corridors and minecart tracks, searching for coal within the mine’s walls.

A village in Minecraft with a cherry blossom forest biome
A village with the new cherry blossom forest biome behind it, a structure area rich with possibilities for fuel. (Image: Mojang via HGG / Nathan Hart)

In certain biomes, you may encounter hostile creatures called strays. These ice-biome variants of the common skeleton mob have a chance of dropping coal upon defeat. Arm yourself adequately and venture into icy biomes such as snowfields or frozen oceans to encounter strays and collect coal from their remains. Remember to always wear leather boots in a snowy biome, as iron or heavier boots will make you sink into the sparsely-packed snow.

Smelting Wood and Charcoal

In the early stages of your Minecraft adventure, consider an alternative fuel source: wood. Use an axe to chop down trees, gather logs, and place them in a furnace to convert them into charcoal. Charcoal functions identically to coal and can be used to fuel furnaces, smelt ores, and create torches. It is a temporary solution until you have a more substantial coal supply.

Getting ready to chop down a tree in Minecraft to make charcoal - one of the best ways to get coal in Minecraft
(Image: Mojang via HGG / Nathan Hart)

You can only use whole log blocks to make charcoal, and you’ll only receive a single piece of charcoal when you cook these logs down. So, you’ll need a lot of wood to build a good supply of charcoal, but once you’ve got some you can use it to cook even more wood, building a sustainable supply of fuel. You can grow trees quicker to replenish your charcoal supply by setting up a composting bin and a steady supply of bonemeal. Adding bonemeal to saplings will fertilize them and might instantly give you a new tree to chop down.

Take the High Ground

Coal plays a vital role in Minecraft, providing a dependable fuel source for various tasks, from smelting ores to lighting up dark corners. So, grab your pickaxe, light your torches, and embark on a coal-gathering adventure that will enhance your gameplay and fuel your progress in the blocky adventureland of Minecraft.

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