Should I Use Bituminous Coal or Anthracite Coal for My Open Fireplace?

Burning wood stove with with pile of firewood

Finding the right solid fuel source for your open fire is the missing piece of the puzzle. You want to be able to enjoy your fireplace to the maximum, and your choice of fuel has a huge impact on the performance of your open fire. Coal is the go-to solid fuel for most domestic fireplaces, but that still leaves an important choice left to make: traditional bituminous coal or natural anthracite?

What is bituminous coal?

Bituminous coal is the name for traditional house coal. It is the most popular and abundant coal, and has been used as a domestic fireplace fuel for generations. It’s a cheap solid fuel which is easy to ignite, both of which are key reasons it is so heavily used.

While an effective heating source, there are numerous environmental concerns regarding the domestic burning of bituminous coal. This has lead to the possibility, as discussed in the government’s clean air strategy, of this type of coal being phased out.

A Bag of Premium House Coal

What is natural anthracite?

Anthracite is another form of natural coal, however it has some major, key differences to bituminous coal which makes it an environmentally friendlier option.

Anthracite is a natural smokeless fuel. Unlike bituminous coal, which produces a thick, black smoke and has a high sulphur content, anthracite has the highest carbon content of any coal and burns cleanly.

Comparatively, anthracite is a more expensive solid fuel, but there is a marked performance increase when used as a domestic fuel. Anthracite burns hotter and longer than bituminous coal, meaning that, in the long term, it’s arguably a more cost-effective solution.

Anthracite large nuts (large bag).

So which coal is better for my open fire?

Both coals have their advantages. For many, the affordability and ease of use of bituminous coal is enough to sway them. However, with a growing focus on the environment, with the government looking to cut air pollution in the UK, bituminous house coal may be seen as an outdated solid fuel for some. This is especially true for those who live in smoke control areas.

From a performance and heating standpoint, anthracite is a higher quality coal for domestic, open fire heating. While harder to ignite, anthracite does burn for a longer period of time at a hotter temperature, meaning it is more effective at providing reliable warmth for your household.

Both coals are fossil fuels. However, anthracite has far fewer impurities compared to bituminous coal — which makes it more likely to contaminate the air as it burns far less cleanly.

If you are looking for a coal that puts a reduced strain on the local environment, anthracite is the way to go. Its heating performance, too, fits the needs of domestic heating very well — although your choice will likely depend on the costs both upfront and long term.


To discuss the benefits of anthracite and bituminous coal for your open fireplace, contact the team at KG Smith & Son today. Our expert personnel are happy to advise, and once youve made your choice we can deliver your solid fuel directly to you on a next day basis. If youd like to arrange delivery with us across the UK, dont hesitate to get in touch today.


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