Today I was poking around the Minecraft Wiki trying to figure out some Minecraft crafting strategies. I found out that running around trying to find coal all the daytime hours in Minecraft is a total waste of time. Since Beta 1.2, Minecraft has had charcoal! Charcoal is now my favorite item in the game.
Charcoal can replace coal in any usage. That means you can create torches, power minecarts, and even use it as a fuel for your furnace. Unlike coal, charcoal is totally renewable, as all you need to make charcoal in Minecraft is a furnace, a block of wood (not wood planks), and 2 sticks. I also learned that you could power your furnace with more than just coal in general. 2 sticks you say? Yes! You can grab some kindling and create your first piece of charcoal. After that you can start up the a factory making charcoal basically, because charcoal has the same burning time as coal and therefore can make the same amount of items.
I quickly was able to mass produce 8 charcoal at a time, as it only took 1 peice of charcoal to create 8. The Minecraft Wiki page on charcoal has a section about efficiency, but fails to realize that their own method is very inefficient. You really only need to create 1 piece of charcoal and have a block of 64 wood blocks to just start making a boatload of charcoal. I am now thinking of adding a few more furnaces to my workshop so that I can take the mass production of charcoal to a new level and never be out of torches or fuel again in Minecraft.
I hope that this minecraft crafting tip helps you build some great things in Minecraft.