Tip 2: Power a Furnace with a Bucket of Lava
Coal is fairly readily available early in the game, but did you know you can use lava to power a furnace? Lava is sometimes slightly more dangerous than coal to acquire, but a bucket of lava has the longest burning time of anything in Minecraft, and it will power a furnace 25% longer than a coal block would. (A coal block is made of nine lumps of coal and can smelt more than the sum of its parts.)
How do you scoop up lava? With a bucket. The recipe is the same for a water bucket or a lava bucket: three iron ingots placed in a small V. After creating your bucket, you just have to find some lava. Wait until nightfall and then stand somewhere with a view (inside your house, ideally, so you won’t get attacked), looking for a glow somewhere in the distance. Found it? That’s probably an outdoor pool of lava, which you can investigate when the sun comes up. (Another option for finding lava is by exploring caves.)
You scoop up lava just like water: Hold the bucket and right-click on the block of lava you want to gather (see Figure 4).
Figure 4 Scoop up some lava.
Unlike water, lava doesn’t flow together to fill intervening blocks, so you can’t make an unlimited supply of it. But using lava to power your furnace will let you smelt more items, as well as removing a hazard you might otherwise fall into or be pushed into by a zombie (or an obnoxious sibling).
Once you have a bucket of lava, put it into your furnace’s power source slot (see Figure 5). The bucket will empty, letting you reuse the bucket as many times as you want.
Figure 5 Placing the bucket in the furnace.