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Coal guide

by User Not Found | Dec 10, 2014

Buying coal is not as easy as picking up the first bag you see - there is a lot to consider: does it suit your type of stove/fire, how much heat is it going to produce, is it smokeless etc. but don’t worry, our coal guide will help you to choose the right type.

There are four types of coal: anthracite, bituminous coal, subbituminous coal, and lignite. They rank depending on the carbon content meaning that the coal with the highest carbon content is the best and cleanest type. Lower ranging coals have higher moisture content and therefore the heat output is lower.


  • low in sulphur and high in carbon
  • moisture content - less than 15%
  • perfect fuel for your closed stove
  • high level of heat (calorific value - 9 kW/kG)
  • needs kindling to light
  • burns with blue light
  • smokeless fuel
  • ideal to burn continuously over a lengthy, cold period

Bituminous coal

  • moisture content - less than 20%
  • burns with a long radiant flame, giving lots of heat (calorific values - 6.8 - 9 kW/kG) the most popular bituminous coal is Polish Coal
  • easy to light
  • ideal for open and closed fires


  • also known as “brown coal”
  • moisture content – 45%
  • high sulphur content
  • calorific values – less than 5 kW/kG
  • sold in form of union nuggets
  • used in the smokeless coal mix

Smokeless fuel

  • smokeless fuel consist of mixture of fuels: Petroleum Coke, Lignite, Ovoids and Anthracite 
  • ideal for open fire especially in smoke controlled areas 
  • easy to light
  • burns with a long radiant flame
  • low in ash

It is worth trying different types of coal in your stove to see which works the best. You are looking for coal that gives good heat, can stay burning all night, gives little ash and dirt (soot) but remember never to use:

  • household coal in the multifuel stoves
  • coal in wood stove
  • anthracite in open fire
  • smokeless coal in enclosed stove other than anthracite

Brian’s Bio

Hi, my name is Brian. I am the Branch Manager in Glanbia Countrylife in New Ross, Co.Wexford. I’ve worked in retail since I left college in 1998. I love my job as no two days are the same - the customer interactions which are an integral part of my work provide me with daily variety. I started working for Glanbia in 2008 and saw they sold Stanley Stoves and wondered how would I go about selling them. Some eaves dropping on the then stove expert, a few training courses with Waterford Stanley and the installation of a stove in my own home have left me with the required knowledge . It’s not a hard sale really once you explain to someone that an open fire is between 20/ 25% efficient where as a Stove can be up to 80% efficient.