No, coal cannot scratch glass.
In the article that follows, you learn what you need to about coal, and why it is that coal cannot scratch glass.
Can Coal Scratch Glass? (EXPLAINED)
When it comes to scratching glass, coal is one of the least available types of rock or minerals that can do the job.
Coal is fundamentally so soft, it can crumble in the hand with a bit of pressure.
That’s because coal tends to be carbonized organic material, such as wood, that has been so dried out from moisture, only the carbon form is left with lots of micro holes, vacuums and the integral internal substance missing.
Since glass rates much harder, coal doesn’t even have a chance of scratching glass unless some other rock like granite is mixed up in it.
Why Coal is so Plentiful
Millions of years ago, well before humanity ever even showed up (humans are only about 140,000 to 180,000 years old in likely presence), much of the world was covered with layers of vegetation and organic materials in far greater amounts.
As time marched on, a good amount of that material collapsed, died off and its remains became trapped in sediment.
That, in turn, with time and pressure, became what we know as coal today.
Coal can also be produced from burning organic material; trees burning in wildfires, for example, produce coal that burns for weeks if not put out.
That too can be trapped in sediment in deposits and built up over time as well.
Big coal deposits that are mined out today generally used to be jungles, for example, as well as large repositories of other organic material from millions of years earlier.
Consistency and Structure of Coal
Coal shows up in mining or nature as either very black or brown-black in color.
It is almost all or a high concentration of carbon without much else left in it.
Interestingly, while coal has no use as an edible resource or agriculture, such as soil, it can be used to create energy.
Primarily, coal is burnable, and the tremendous amount of heat it produces can be used to boil water, which then produces steam and pressure.
Coal has been used for centuries in this regard, powering all sorts of assemblies and mechanisms.
The train was only made possible, for example, due to coal, and the carbonized rock is still used today to power energy plants, i.e. “dirty energy.”
Types of Natural Coal
Coal comes in different forms, ranging from very contaminated to a very pure form.
There are four main types that miners and geologists track.
The rating of high-quality coal versus poor is based on how much carbon a coal type has.
The more carbon, the greater the heat production it will give off.
Anthracite, for example, is 85 percent to almost 100 percent carbon.
It burns the hottest, the cleanest and generates the greatest amount of energy output.
Unfortunately, it is also the least available coal that can be found.
Anthracite barely makes up 1 percent of coal burned in the U.S.
Anthracite is so rare, it’s only found in one location in the country as well, Pennsylvania.
In some respects, the fact that the area was one of the first colonies spoiled early settlers finding coal because the rest of the country had lower quality deposits.
The second grade level is bituminous coal, which is critical for both energy production as well as the steel industry.
This type of coal has the greatest amount of consumption in the U.S. and it makes up almost half the consumption (about 44 percent).
It’s a primary resource of electricity-generation, coking coal demands for iron/steel production, and it can be found in at least 18 different states.
West Virginia has the largest amount of deposits.
The other two coal types, subbituminous and lignite tend to be lower quality, crumbly, and burn very dirty.
These coal types tend to be found further out west in the U.S., with a good amount in Wyoming and the Dakotas.
Problems With Coal
As noted earlier, coal is a very dirty material to work with.
Not only does it create a lot of black dust and powder just handling it, when the material burns it gives off a tremendous amount of air pollution.
Anthracite tends to burn cleaner, but all coal produces significant pollution that can easily create smog, toxic fumes and poisonous air.
London became famous in the 19th century for its coal-belching factories and industrialization, practically blanketing the city with air pollution from burning coal.
Today, while coal consumption has been reduced significantly by other energy sources, it is still used for power generation and the steel industry.
In many countries that are industrializing dramatically, coal is a primary energy resource, adding to their pollution levels dramatically.
China is a primary example of this scenario, and so is India.
Many countries are trying to get away from coal entirely.
It has a long history in Europe, the U.S. and the Americas, but Asia is still very reliant on the basic energy source for much of its current industry.
This has become a schism between the developed world and up and coming countries.
The established nations push out concerns and demands about spreading international pollution from coal, wanting to reduce its use, but the younger countries need it to develop and expand.
No surprise, developing countries hold coal as a leverage point to demand better technology from older nations before reducing their pollution levels.
Glass Versus Coal, Not a Contest
Again, can coal scratch glass?
The answer is no.
It is simply too soft a mineral to do the job against glass’ hardness.
If there is a scratch caused, it’s likely due to some other rock mixed up in the coal doing the actual scratching, like a flake of granite or quartz.