Anthracite Coal

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Anthracite Coal

Fortunately for those of us in Northeastern Pennsylvania and surrounding areas we are on top of one the finest grades of coal in the world namely anthracite. Anthracite is the highest grade of coal, it is nearly 100% pure carbon with few impurities. Current production is about 2 million tons mined per year. There is an estimated 16 billion tons of anthracite in Northeastern Pennsylvania, of that its estimated 6 billion tons of it is recoverable. At current production rates it would be several millennium's before we run out.

If you're unfamiliar with anthracite coal you may be thinking to yourself why would I want to use something that's dirty, requires a lot of work and so forth. I'm sure many of you have images of some sweaty, dirty guy shoveling coal into a large boiler as you would commonly see on movies. Simply put that is not the case.

There are two types of units available for home heating. Hand fired stoves that would be similar to a wood stove and stokers for which there is two types, smaller stokers made for supplementary heat and larger boilers that are not much different than a regular gas or oil fired furnace.


Anthracite Uses

Anthracite is used primarily for domestic home heating burned in either stoker or hand fired coal stove.

Anthracite Compared to Other Fuels

Fuel Type BTU's per Unit Units needed to equal 1 ton
Anthracite Coal 25,000,000/Short Ton 1 Short ton
Fuel Oil (No.2) 138,960/Gallon 180 Gallons
Electricity 3,412/kWh 7327kWh
Natural Gas 100,000/Therm 250 Therms
1028/Cubic Ft. 24,319 Cubic Ft.
Propane 91,330/Gallon 273 Gallons
Wood 20,000,000/Cord 1.25 Cords
Wood Pellets 16,500,000/Short ton 1.5 Short Tons
Corn 16,500,000/Short ton 1.5 Short Tons
Kerosene 135,000/Gallon 185 Gallons
*The Btu ratings used here are provided by the Department of Energy. Some figures have been rounded. Coal and Wood can have varying Btu contents. This chart does not take into account efficiency.

Common Anthracite Sizes

Anthracite coal is sized at the breaker. Smaller sizes like rice and Barley are typically used in stoker stoves while larger sizes like chestnut and pea are typically used for hand fired stoves. Other sizes include barley which is the smallest size available on the consumer market and can in some cases be used in stoker stoves. It's generally is cheaper but some stokers will not function properly using this size. The largest size available for consumers is stove, this commands a premium price over other sizes.

Name Size in inches Is approx. the size of
Barley 3/16 X 3/32 Coarse Sand
Rice 5/16 X 3/16 Pencil Eraser
Buckwheat(Buck) 9/16 X 5/16 Dime
Pea 13/16 X 9/16 Quarter
Chestnut(Nut) 1-5/8 X 13/16 Golf Ball
Stove 2 7/16" X 1 5/8" Baseball

Volume of Anthracite by Weight

The exact volume of anthracite by weight cannot be determined accurately as there are a few factors that will change it. The two major ones are density and the size of the coal. The coal itself can have different densities and will have more or less volume. If you're continually getting your coal from the same source this will not be much of factor, it's when you get it from different sources where this might come into play. Overall though the density is not going to make a drastic difference between two separate sources. The size of the coal is a bigger factor. Smaller sizes like rice will have more volume than larger sizes like nut.

Generally you need about 40 cubic feet per short ton for anthracite coal.

The following table is averages, they are not exact. Bin sizes are based on 40 cubic feet per ton.

Container Size Average Weight
55 Gallon drum 400 lbs.
5 Gallon Bucket 40 lbs.

Container Size Cubic Feet Average Weight (tons)
4 x 8 x 2 64 1.6
4 x 8 x 2 64 1.6 tons
4 x 8 x 3 96 2.4
4 x 8 x 4 128 3.2
4 x 8 x 5 160 4 tons
4 x 8 x 6 192 4.8 tons
5 x 8 x 2 80 2
5 x 8 x 3 120 3
5 x 8 x 4 160 4
5 x 8 x 5 200 5
5 x 8 x 5 200 5
4 x 10 x 2 80 2
4 x 10 x 3 120 3
4 x 10 x 4 160 4
4 x 10 x 5 200 5
4 x 10 x 6 240 6
4 x 12 x 2 96 2.4
4 x 12 x 3 144 3.6
4 x 12 x 4 192 4.8
4 x 12 x 5 240 6
4 x 12 x 6 288 7.2
5 x 12 x 2 120 3
5 x 12 x 3 180 4.5
5 x 12 x 4 240 6
5 x 12 x 5 300 7.5
5 x 12 x 6 360 9