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Help ID material found in yard

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Hello Everyone,

I found the below material in a planter under a large bird of paradise. Also, i've noticed this in smaller pieces in various parts of the yard. I was thinking it was maybe a burnt/semi-petrified piece of wood, but it has a very shiny appearance on parts while matte on others. It is brittle enough that i can break it with my hands (small piece in photo was broken by hand). First 6 photos are of the material on a paper towel, material is about 1.5 x 1.0 inches. 

Location is Jacksonville, FL.

Thank you in advance! :thumbsupanim











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Will it light under a torch flame? Remindsd me of hunk of  tar from a kettle.

Scratch it with a knife an underneath a toilet tank lid.


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1 hour ago, Scarpi said:

Is it a certain type of coal? ... it does not leave any residue (black) on my hands

It looks like lignite or sub-bituminous because you can still see the wood structure.

It is not charcoal. It is the mineral coal. It will certainly make your hands dirty if you work with it but not like charcoal.

Heat a corner up and see what happens. If it is tar it will drip and smell like tar. If it is coal it will smell like sulfur. It is one or the other and my guess is coal. 

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Hey Guys,

Unfortunately i don't have a torch. so i did this..

  • Using a standard lighter:
    • I scrapped off some flakes and tried to light them on a paper plate...didn't do anything before the plate started burning. Also held it up to the end for about a min, the very tip turned red, but went away as soon as flame was removed. no smoke or noticeable smell. 
  • Toilet back:
    • scrapped it and resembled like i was writing with a black chalk.
  • Cigar torch:
    • end lit up red again, but no noticeable smoke or smell. 

Appreciate the schooling / sharing of knowledge!!! :4chsmu1:

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I don't see any inconsistencies with coal at all. It is definitely not graphite simply by the appearance and streak. And it is not a  chunk of C60 either. And it is not tar because the lighter would have caused it to drip and burn. It is just a lump of plain old common coal. 

Coal is tough to light and ligneous coal is low sulfur, so it may not generate much of a smell. It isn't going to light by holding a cigar lighter up to a corner because you have to get the entire lump hot to get combustion started. Coal gasifies as it heats and the gas burns, not the coal, so you must get it hot enough to create coal gas in order for it to light.  Anyone who has ever started a coal fire in a stove or boiler can attest to that. You generally have to build a wood fire first and then throw the coal on a hot fire to get it to start burning.

You are not going to light a corner with a cigar lighter. But you may get it hot enough to get a whiff of sulfur or cause tar to soften. A coal fire is difficult to light. Especially old coal that has been laying around and has probably already undergone some level of spontaneous combustion. That is exactly what this is.

We know instinctively that this is some form of carbon. Instead of trying to solve a deep mystery we should simply accept that this material is exactly what it appears to be.

Lets call it a proto diamond if the term "coal" does not adequately stimulate the senses. Or we can call it chocolate ice cream if you want. But at the end of the day after reality sets in that is just a lump of coal. :idunno:

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9 hours ago, Diggingd said:

So I'm pretty sure this isn't coal, but carbon and to be more exact Glasy carbon or vitreous  carbon explains all the inconcestinces to coal. 

Vitreous carbon has a Mohs hardness of 7, which means it doesn’t leave a streak. OP’s example leaves a black streak, so it’s not vitreous carbon. 

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