Coal is a fossil fuel commonly burned to generate electricity, but it has domestic uses too — most commonly heating and blacksmithing. Coal forms under high heat and pressure beneath the Earth’s surface. The highest grade coal, anthracite, has spent the most time underground exposed to pressure and heat. Lower grade coals, such as bituminous coal, have spent less time forming underground. The higher the grade, the harder and purer the coal.
In this article, we provide an introduction to the most commonly used types of coal and their applications. And if you’re wondering, “Where to buy coal near me?” we’ve created the list for you. It’s a list of hardware stores, blacksmith stores, and coal producers or suppliers that sell coal to individuals, along with the companies’ rates and availability, so that you can choose a supplier that’s right for you.
In This Article:
Types and uses of coal
Hardware stores that sell coal
Blacksmith supply stores that sell coal
Coal mining companies and other suppliers that sell coal
Types and Uses of Coal so You Buy the Right Kind
Anthracite is a hard, high-grade coal that produces a hot blue flame when burned. Most anthracite in the U.S. comes from Pennsylvania, where it was heavily mined in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Anthracite has become more difficult to mine because the remaining reserves are deeper and deeper underground.
Anthracite is ideal for generating heat in coal-burning furnaces in homes or small businesses. Not only does anthracite burn hotter than other coals, but it also burns more slowly and is the most efficient heat producer relative to its weight. Anthracite is the cleanest burning coal, and when used properly in modern furnaces will require little cleaning.
Anthracite comes in several sizes, as shown below. The larger the pieces of coal, the higher the price. Chestnut and Pea sizes are used in hand-fired furnaces while the smaller Rice and Buckwheat sizes are used in automatic stoker furnaces. Be sure to check the instructions on your stove to confirm which size is appropriate.
- Size: Barley
- 3/16″ x 3/32″
- Approximately the size of coarse sand
- Size: Rice
- 5/16″ x 3/16″
- Approximately the size of a pencil eraser
- Size: Buckwheat (Buck)
- 9/16″ x 5/16″
- Approximately the size of a dime
- Size: Pea
- 13/16″ x 9/16″
- Approximately the size of a quarter
- Size: Chestnut (Nut)
- 1 5/8″ x 13/16″
- Approximately the size of a golf ball
- Size: Stove
- 2 7/16″ x 1 5/8″
- Approximately the size of a baseball
Bituminous, or “soft” coal, is so named because it contains bitumen, a tar-like substance. Bituminous coal is lower quality and easier to mine than anthracite. It is burned to produce electricity and run trains. Bituminous coal can produce excessive soot and smoke when burned, so it’s not ideal for heating, especially in coal or wood-burning stoves in the home.
Bituminous coal is also used to produce coke and to make iron and steel. Anthracite is not commonly used for blacksmithing because, unlike bituminous coal, anthracite produces small pieces of coke that tend to blow up and out of the fire. As a result, bituminous coal is better suited for blacksmithing. Blacksmith coal used in forges is high-quality bituminous coal, although some forges may use coke or charcoal.
Lignite, or “brown coal,” is the lowest quality coal. Geologically, it is the youngest type of coal. According to the Lignite Energy Council, about 79 percent of lignite coal is used to generate electricity and 13.5 percent is used to generate synthetic natural gas, while 7.5 percent is used to produce fertilizer products (including anhydrous ammonia and ammonium sulfate). Lignite produces little heat relative to its weight compared to other coals, so it is usually used to generate power in plants near the mine. Because only a very small percentage is used domestically (typically for heating or fertilizer), lignite is not covered by our list of coal suppliers and dealers.
Coal slag is the byproduct of coal that is burned to create power. Slag can be made into blasting abrasives that are cleaner and safer than silica sand (which is another common blasting abrasive). Producers of this material clean the slag and sort it by size — medium, fine, and extra fine — before selling to consumers. Abrasive blasting involves using high pressure to propel abrasive material, such as coal slag, onto a surface either to smooth a rough surface, roughen a smooth surface, or to clean the surface.
Where Are the Coal Suppliers near Me?
Individuals can buy coal from local hardware or supply stores that carry coal, and in some circumstances, straight from the producer. Blacksmithing stores also carry coal, though they will only carry bituminous coal. These stores will generally not carry coal appropriate for heating.
Coal at hardware stores is often sold in 40- or 50-pound bags, while producers will generally only sell it in larger quantities. A typical unit sold by a producer is a skid, or pallet, which has approximately 50 bags and equals one ton.
Below is a sampling of stores that carry coal as well as coal producers. This list only covers chain stores or suppliers that will ship regionally or nationally, so be sure to check your local hardware store, blacksmith supplier, or local mine to compare prices and delivery options.
Hardware Stores That Sell Coal
A local hardware store is the best bet for buying coal in smaller qualities suited for individual domestic use. There may be smaller regional stores near you that didn’t make our list, so be sure to call your town’s hardware store if you’re seeking a local option.
Hardware stores often carry both anthracite and bituminous coal (which is suited for blacksmithing). These stores usually won’t deliver. Because coal is available for in-store pickup only, check online or call ahead to make sure the item is in stock if you’re worried about wasting a trip.
Unfortunately, hardware stores that carry coal aren’t as common as they used to be. Here’s a list of some that do, along with where they’re located and what they carry.
1. Aubuchon Hardware
- Location: Aubuchon has stores in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. Find the nearest store.
- Shipping: Shipping rates depend on location, and range from $15 – $100 for a single bag.
- Products: Aubuchon sells both anthracite and bituminous coal:
- Location: Kidron and Hope, OH.
- Shipping: Lehman’s will ship pallets of anthracite by freight only. Prices for shipping range from $200 – $700, depending on the buyer’s location. The coal ships from Ohio. Call 1-800-438-5346 for a quote.
- Products: Aubuchon sells anthracite by the pallet (2,400 lbs) for $399.
3. Tractor Supply Co.
- Location: Tractor Supply Co. has stores in all 50 states. Find a location.
- Shipping: Coal is available for in-store pickup only. Tractor Supply Co. does not ship coal.
- Products: Check for availability at the nearest store on the product’s page.
Blacksmith Supply Stores That Sell Coal
Blacksmith stores usually have only a few locations, but often ship nationwide. They generally only carry bituminous coal best suited for smithing, but not anthracite which is typically used for heating.
4. Blacksmith Depot
- Location: Chandler, NC.
- Shipping: Blacksmith Depot ships nationwide from Chandler, NC. Shipping cost varies depending on location, and ranges from around $30 to nearby locations to over $60 on the west coast. Shipping quotes are available at checkout.
- Products: Blacksmithing Coal (Pea Size) (50 lb bag) for $25.00; and Blacksmithing Coke (45 lb bag) for $20.00. Discounts are available for large orders.
5. Centaur Forge
- Location: Burlington, WI and Austin, TX.
- Shipping: Centaur Forge offers flat-rate shipping for all U.S. customers, including Alaska and Hawaii. Free shipping for eligible orders over $250; shipping is included in many coal product prices.
- Products: Bagged Smithing Coal (50 lb bag) for $54.95; and Bagged Smithing Coke (50 lb bag) for $54.95. Small discounts per bag are available for larger orders.
6. Pieh Tool Co.
- Location: Camp Verde and Cave Creek, AZ.
- Shipping: Pieh Tool Co. ships nationwide from Arizona. Pieh advises that shipping can cost more than the product itself and that customers should call for a quote if concerned. In addition, Pieh recommends purchasing a minimum of 200 lbs and having it shipped by motor freight to minimize shipping costs.
- Products: Pieh sells coal and coke for smithing. Bituminous coal is available in 50 lb bags, starting at $36 per bag. Coke is available in 50 lb bags starting at $34.60. Discounts are available for purchases of five bags or more.
Coal Mining Companies and Other Suppliers That Sell Coal
Coal mining companies mine anthracite, bituminous coal, and/or lignite. These companies often provide delivery, at least in their region, but they typically only deliver large quantities to individuals. Shipping rates are available upon inquiry.
7. Black Diamond Heat Coal Dealer
- Location: Evans Mill, NY.
- Shipping: Black Diamond offers several delivery options. Call 1-315-771-2625 to inquire about delivery to your location.
- Products: Black Diamond carries anthracite coal for heating; customers should call ahead to check what’s currently in stock.
8. Blaschak Coal Corporation
- Location: Mahanoy City, PA. The Blaschak website has a dealer locator to inquire about nearby dealers.
- Shipping: Many Blaschak dealers deliver door-to-door. Use Blaschak’s dealer locator to find the nearest one and inquire about specific details.
- Product: Blaschak sells anthracite in 40 lb bags or by the ton.
9. Center Coal Co.
- Location: Center and Dickinson, ND.
- Shipping: Center Coal recommends that customers inquire about delivery details. Center Coal’s trucks routinely travel to North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota, and the company will consider shipping elsewhere as well.
- Products: Center Coal produces lignite.
- At the Center, ND location: Treated stoker coal is available for $36.75 per ton and lump coal for $39.25 per ton.
- At the Dickinson, ND location: Treated stoker coal is available for $56.75 per ton and lump coal for $58.25 per ton.
10. Lehigh Anthracite
- Location: Tamaqua, PA.
- Shipping: Lehigh does not ship coal
- Products: Lehigh sells anthracite bagged or in bulk. Bagged anthracite is available in Stove, Nut, Pea, Buckwheat, and Rice sizes. Bulk anthracite is available in Stove, Nut, Pea, Buckwheat, Rice and Barley sizes.
11. Penn Keystone Coal Co.
- Location: Claysburg, PA.
- Shipping: Penn Keystone can ship to almost anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. Inquire about delivery options on the Penn Keystone website.
- Products: Penn Keystone will only be appropriate for individuals looking to buy in large quantities. Penn can supply approximately 22-26 ton loads of anthracite or bituminous coal, but cannot supply smaller quantities.
- Anthracite coal is available in Stove, Nut, Pea, Buckwheat No 1, Rice, Barley, Buckwheat No. 4, and Buckwheat No. 5 sizes.
- Bituminous coal varieties available include Kentucky Stoker (low ash/sulfur), Pocahontas #3 Pea & Nut from West Virginia, Screened Pittsburgh seam 3×1 or stoker, Washed Pittsburgh Stoker (1 1/2 x 1/4″), Washed Pittsburgh 2 x 5″ Nut, and Pittsburgh Lump (5″+).
12. Reading Anthracite Company
- Location: Reading is located in Pottsville, PA. Reading has a directory of dealers located in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Call 1-570-622-5150 or 1-800-654-7792 for details about the dealer nearest you.
- Shipping: Check with the nearest dealer for information on shipping.
- Products: Reading sells anthracite for resident heating by the bag or in bulk.
Whether you wanted to know where to buy coal for heating, blacksmithing, or an entirely different use, we hope this article has helped.
Beyond our list of coal dealers and producers, remember to check your local hardware or supply store for coal, especially if looking to buy in small quantities. While coal might not be as common as it once was, anthracite is still a viable option for heating homes and small businesses, and bituminous coal is still used for blacksmithing projects.
Although those living in the country’s northeast region will have more options for buying anthracite because of Pennsylvania’s large deposits of this type of coal, anthracite can be bought nationwide. Bituminous coal for blacksmithing is readily available nationwide from blacksmith supply stores.