Difference Between Anthracite and Coal

Anthracite vs Coal

Earth has enough and more natural resources with numerous usages to human beings. However, some of these resources like petroleum, coal, natural gases, and some minerals are highly precious due to their lack of presence and long regeneration time. Therefore, sustainable usage and maintenance of these resources is extremely crucial.


Coal is a fossil fuel similar to natural gas and oil, which is in a solid rock form. Coal is formed by collecting plant debris in swamps. The process takes thousands of years. When plant materials collect on swamps, they degrade very slowly. Normally swamp water does not have a high oxygen concentration; therefore, microorganism density is low there, resulting in minimum degradation by microorganisms. Plant debris accumulates in swamps because of this slow decaying. When these are buried under sand or mud, the pressure and inside temperature convert the plant debris to coal slowly. To accumulate a large number of plant debris, and for the decaying process, it takes a long time. Further, there should be suitable water levels and conditions to make this favorable. Thus, coal is considered as a non renewable natural resource. This is because, when coal is mined out and used, they cannot be regenerated again easily.

There are different types of coal. They are ranked based on their properties and composition. Such coal types are peat, lignite, sub bituminous, bituminous and anthracite. Peat is the lowest grade coal in the ranking list. It is formed from recently accumulated plant debris and with further time, can be converted to coal.

Main economic usage of coal is to produce electricity. By burning coal, heat is obtained and then this heat energy is used to produce steam. Finally, electricity is produced by running a steam generator. Other than generating electricity, coal is used for generating power in many other occasions. From very earlier times, coal was used in factories, to run trains, as a household energy source, etc. Moreover, coal is used to produce coke, synthetic rubber, insecticides, paint products, solvents, medicine, etc.


Anthracite is a type of coal as stated above. Among the other types, this has a higher ranking due to its remarkable properties. Anthracite has the highest carbon percentage, which is 87%; hence, impurities are less. Anthracite processes a higher amount of heat per unit mass than the other types of coal. It does not ignite easily, but when it does a blue, smokeless flame is produced for a short time. Since it doesn’t produce a smoke, it burns cleanly. Anthracite is harder than other coal types; therefore, it is known as hard coal. Anthracite is relatively rare; and found in a small amount in Pennsylvania, America.

What is the difference between Anthracite and Coal?

• Anthracite has a higher quality than the regular coal. For example, anthracite is harder, produces more energy when burned, does not ignite easily, impurities are less and has higher carbon percentage compared to other normal coal.

• Other types of coals are considered as sedimentary rocks, whereas anthracite is metamorphic.

• Other types of coal can be converted to anthracite with time.

• Anthracite is more expensive than regular coal.