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A Simple Guide on How To Light Hookah Coals

Hookah coals are an often overlooked component of producing the best possible smoke session. 

The coals are the heat source for your hookah, and they play a large role in the burning of your shisha. The coals also play a much larger role in flavoring your smoke than many smokers know or realize.

Many novice and intermediate hookah smokers don’t give hookah coals their full weight when setting up a hookah, and even fewer take the time to understand how best to light and use their coals when smoking. 

MOB Hookah is here to help you figure out the best way to light your hookah coals and keep your shisha burning properly, evenly, and without burning.

Here is our simple guide to lighting hookah coals properly for a quality smoke session every time.

What Are Hookah Coals?

Hookah coals are exactly what they sound like — a specific type of coal that is used for smoking hookah. Coals are placed on top of your bowl, which is wrapped in tin foil, and they provide the heat that burns your shisha.

Hookah coals are often made of coconut husks that are compressed together. There are also quick-light coals, which contain some additional chemicals, and wood charcoals that are another natural option for smokers.

The kind of coals you choose has a big impact on your smoke session quality, length, and the flavor of your smoke. Knowing how to light and use hookah coals properly can help you get a solid smoke session and prevent burnt shisha.

How To Light Quick-Light Coals

Quick-light coals are mostly used by beginners and new hookah smokers. Quick-light coals are coated in a chemical accelerant that helps them light and burn quickly, as the name implies. 

The downside to these coals is that the chemical accelerant gives a chemical flavor to your hookah smoke, which can negatively impact your smoke session. Quick light coals also tend to burn faster and hotter than natural coals, which can lead to burnt shisha, hot smoke, and shorter sessions.

But, the upside is they light very quickly, so if you are in a rush or don’t have the resources to light natural coals, quick-light coals can be a good idea for your smoke session.

All you need to light quick lighting coals is a lighter or match — light the coals, and they should immediately start to spark and light, turning red, and then finally greyish. Wait until they have turned greyish to put them on your hookah, as they aren’t fully lit until they turn grey.

And, this is all you have to do for quick light coals. Quick and easy, quick light coals are a great option for beginners and travelers who don’t have time or equipment to light regular coals.

How To Light Coconut Husk Hookah Coals

Coconut husk hookah coals, also commonly just referred to as natural hookah coals, are made of compressed coconut husk. These are a traditional choice for hookah smokers, and they are the go-to for hookah lounges and experienced smokers.

Coconut husk coals take longer to light than quick light coals, but they don’t impart a chemical flavor to the smoke. They also burn less intensely, which can prevent burning shisha and harsh smoke.

Coconut husk hookah coals do require a more intensive lighting process when compared to quick light coals, however. You can invest in a hookah coal lighter, or if you have a gas stove, you can use the flame from that to light your coals as well.

You should place your coals on the heat source at a high setting if using a coal heater, or if you are using your stove burner, make sure that you don’t go crazy on the heat. Give the coals about five minutes, and then flip them to get the other side three or four minutes. You’ll know they are ready when they have turned grey all around. 

You will see the coals slowly turn from black to orangish-red to white, and once they have gone grey white and have that very light coat of ash, they are ready for your hookah. 

How To Light Wood Hookah Coals

And finally, we have wood hookah coals. Wood hookah coals are typically made from lemonwood, orange wood, or bamboo. Experienced smokers will tell you these coals can very subtly flavor your hookah smoke, adding an extra element.

Other than the slight flavor difference, however, they have very similar lighting needs to coconut husk natural hookah coals. 

You will need an external lighter to use wooden hookah coals, and you can follow the same process as lighting coconut coals. You will leave them on your stove or using your hookah coal lighter on high for about five minutes, then flip them with your tongs, and give them another few minutes.

Once the coals have turned orangish-red and then transitioned to grey/white, you know that they are ready to go. 

Wood hookah coals offer you the same slow and steady burn as coconut husk charcoals, as well as adding a little extra flavor to your hookah smoke, making natural wood coals a choice for many frequent smokers and connoisseurs.

Which Hookah Coals Are Best?

Well, the truth is, there isn’t really a right or wrong answer. Each kind of coal is useful under different circumstances, and that means they all have their place in the world of hookah.

If you are a novice, don’t have coal lighting equipment, or are taking your hookah on the go, then quick light coals can be a great move. Yes, it may not be the highest quality smoke possible, but it’s nothing you can’t deal with.

On the other hand, if you want a more traditional or longer-lasting session, and you have the equipment to light natural coals, they can be a preferred choice. Many experienced smokers love the quality that they add and the fact that they don't add any unwanted flavors to the smoke.

You should choose the hookah coals that you like the best and that make the most sense for your situation. Having coals you like and know how to use is the most important thing.

What About Using a Heat Management Device?

A heat management device is a special device that you can use on your bowl instead of tin foil to manage the level of heat that is transferred from your coals to your shisha. They can be a very effective way to manage the heat distribution and intensity for a solid smoke.

Using a heat management device, however, does not change how you light your coals. You still need to wait for your coals to reach the white/grey color of fully lit before they are ready for your hookah.

Hookah Coal Lighting: The Takeaway

Hookah coals are the heat source for your hookah that allows you to produce smoke. Having proper coal lighting can make your smoke session taste better and last longer.

There are three main types of coals used for hookah: quick light coals, coconut husk coals, and wood coals. All have their pros and cons.

Quick light coals can be lit with a lighter, and then are ready for your hookah once they turn grey.

Coconut husk and wood charcoal must be lit with a coal lighting device or stovetop. Give them a few minutes on each side to reach grey and they are ready for your hookah too.

There are no right or wrong choices for hookah coals, and you can get any hookah coals you desire right here at MOB Hookah. We have high-quality hookah coals to ensure that you get a solid smoke session every time. 

Explore all of our hookah-smoking accessories here



Hookah Coals - The Definitive Guide to Shisha Coals | Hookah.org

Hookah Heat Management and Coal Placement | Hookah.org

Research report: Charcoal type used for hookah smoking influences CO production | NIH

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