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Cannel coal beads
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cannel is a type of bituminous coal,[1] also categorised as terrestrial-type oil shale.[2][3][4] Owing to its physical morphology and low mineral content cannel is considered to be coal, but by its texture and composition of the organic matter it is also considered to be oil shale.[5] Although historically the term cannel coal has been used interchangeably with boghead coal, a more recent classification system restricts cannel coal to terrestrial origin, and boghead coal to lacustrine environments, sedimentary deposits formed at the bottom of ancient lakes.[2]

Cannel coal commanded a premium price as a fuel for use in home fireplaces. It burned longer than wood, and had a clean, bright flame.[6] It has also been used as jewellery since the Neolithic period, with pieces appearing in Scotland (often alongside jet) dating from the centuries before 3500 BCE.[7]



Ashley, George H. Cannel Coal in the United Stated. Bulletin 659. 1918,
Dyni, John R. Geology and Resources of Some World Oil Shale Deposits. Scientific Investigations Report 2005–5294. 2006,
Han, Zhiwen, et al. “Classification of Torbanite and Cannel Coal: I. Insights from Petrographic Analysis of Density Fractions.” International Journal of Coal Geology, vol. 38, no. 3, 1999, pp. 181–202,
Huddle, J. W. “Coal Reserves of Eastern Kentucky.” USGS Geological Survey Bulletin, vol. 1127, 1963, p. 7.
Hutton, A. C. “Petrographic Classification of Oil Shales.” International Journal of Coal Geology, vol. 8, no. 3, 1987, pp. 203–231.
Sheridan, Alison, et al. “Investigating Jet and Jet-like Artefacts from Prehistoric Scotland: The National Museums of Scotland Project.” Antiquity, vol. 76, no. 293, Sept. 2002, pp. 812–825.
Speight, James G. Shale Oil Production Processes. Gulf Professional Publishing, 2012.