To ensure your survival in Minecraft, you need to use all resources you find in the wild. Among these resources are coal, which can be used for smelting, cooking, and as an ingredient in crafting certain items that can cast light in dark areas. While coal is a relatively simple thing to find underground, you can use charcoal to find the same benefits without leaving your base. However, it is not readily apparent how you can make charcoal in the game. Here is how to do so.
Making charcoal is a relatively simple process. First, you need to create a furnace by crafting eight blocks of cobblestone together. Now that you have done so, you need to smelt wooden logs in that furnace. You can use coal, a lava bucket, or a wooden item in the bottom slot for fuel and then put the wooden log in the top space. No other wooden items, even planks, will create charcoal. Once the arrow fills up, you will have a piece of charcoal.
When compared, charcoal looks very similar to coal in item slots, but they cannot be stacked in the same inventory spot. It also has all of the same uses, except it cannot be combined into a coal block. You can use it to create torches, power minecarts, and smelt items. If you are running low on coal, it is a good idea to use some of that remaining coal to create charcoal, as one piece of coal can smelt up to eight charcoal pieces at a time. With charcoal having the same smelting power as coal, you can technically use the charcoal you just smelted to create even more charcoal with more wooden logs. This makes it so you no longer need to go searching specifically for coal in mines anymore.