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A Simple Guide on How To Light Instant Charcoal

Ahh, hookah charcoal, we meet again. These mysterious, wonderful, and sometimes infuriating 

beauties are the key to getting a perfect smoke session. 

As the primary heat source for your hookah, your coals, how you use them, and how you light them, all have a major impact on what happens during your smoke session. 

At the end of the day, when you light your coals incorrectly, you’re setting yourself up for a less than ideal, even wasteful, smoke session. 

But by lighting your coals properly, you are well on your way to a perfect smoke session that will fulfill your expectations and leave you relaxed, happy, and looking forward to the next. 

So without any further ado, here is our simple guide on how to light instant charcoal for the best hookah session possible. 

What Are Hookah Charcoals?

Hookah charcoal is a specific type of charcoal that is used for hookah smoking, and they rest on top of the foil, on top of your bowl. They are typically square-shaped and sized so that about three or so fit comfortably on a standard hookah bowl.

There are two predominant types of hookah charcoal out there, natural coals and quick light coals. 

Natural coals are typically made of compacted coconut husks, and make for great options for the hookah smoker. Some types of natural coals for hookah are made from different types of wood, but you are most likely to encounter coconut husk coals in your day-to-day hookah adventures.

The other type of hookah charcoal, and the kind that we are primarily interested in in this article, is quick light coals. Quick light coals are a type of coal that is also often made of coconut husk but has a chemical coating that helps it light faster than natural coals.

How To Light Quick Light Coals

Lighting quick light hookah coals is passed off as an easy and simple task that requires limited supervision and is ready almost right away.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. You need to light your hookah coals properly. Even if they are quick light coals which may be easier to light on the go or in a pinch, they require no less finesse to harness the perfect smoke from your hookah.

To start, you are going to want to have a tray or plate that your hookah coals can rest and burn on for a few minutes. 

Then, you will want to lay your coals out on the plate, for one smoke session you are likely only going to need three pieces of coal to sustain a solid smoke and get through your bowl. 

Next, pick up each coal individually with your tongs, and light them one by one with a match or lighter. They should go up in flames pretty quickly and then go to a solid burn, at which point you can put one piece down and pick up the next piece to light. 

You must then leave your coals to burn for a full five minutes before they are ready to be used on your hookah. Why? Well, several reasons. 

First, leaving your coals to heat and burn for five minutes helps to burn off the chemical coating on your coals before smoking, which can help improve the flavor of your smoke and decrease the chemicals you are inhaling in your smoke.

The second reason is to let the coal reach a uniform lower temperature. This will help you later on with heat management, as you won't have coals that are at different temperatures, too hot, or with different heats at different sides of the coal.

Once you have waited five minutes you are ready to place your coals evenly on your foiled bowl to begin your smoke session. 

Benefits of Using Instant Charcoal for Hookah Smoking

Now that we’ve talked all of this through, we should discuss the particular benefits that present themselves when using instant charcoal for hookah smoking.

Firstly, instant charcoal is very easy to light. As we mentioned, you only need a lighter or match, or any other open flame, in order to light your hookah charcoal. When using traditional, natural coals, you may need a gas stove or hookah coal lighter in order to get your coals lit.

This makes instant charcoal great for hookah if you are traveling, or bringing your setup to a friend's house who may or may not have the right tools to light natural coals. 

Another benefit of instant charcoals is that they do light pretty consistently and stay lit very consistently. They are always going to work about the same way every time. Natural charcoal have some more individual outcomes that can require more attention to remedy, though they do usually result in a better smoke.

Drawbacks of Using Instant Charcoals

While there are certainly some upsides to instant charcoals over traditional natural coals, there are drawbacks as well.

The first, and most commonly cited, issue with instant charcoals is the chemical flavor that they can impart on your smoke. While if you are using heavily flavored shisha you may not notice it, seasoned smokers are sure to notice the chemical flavor that instant charcoal gives off.

Another issue with instant charcoals is that they burn at a much hotter temperature than natural coals. While instant coals may maintain a very consistent temperature when lit, they do burn hot, which can mean tricky heat management in order to avoid burnt shisha and hot smoke. 

Make sure you are turning and moving your coals frequently to keep the heat moving, and place coals on a coal tray to rest if your shisha gets too hot. 

Alternatively, you could use our MOB Hookah heat management device, which will handle the heat management for you and even distribute the heat from your coals across your hookah bowl for you.

Finally, the last drawback to quick light coals for your hookah is that they tend not to last as long as natural hookah coals. Quick light coals can give out after about 40 minutes, so if you are using quick light coals, it is better to pack a lighter bowl and then pack a second one if you need it, rather than pack a big bowl that you can’t finish and end up wasting shisha.

If you are going to be smoking a large bowl, or sharing amongst three or more people, you should probably opt for natural coals, which you can find right here.

Lighting Quick Light Charcoal: The Takeaways

Quick light coals can be a wonderful tool in your hookah arsenal, as long as you know how to light them properly for a great smoke session.

Quick light coals are typically made with compacted coconut husks, and then coated in a chemical accelerant that makes them much easier to light than traditional natural coals. 

To light quick coals, light them individually on a coal tray with a lighter or match while holding the coal with tongs. Once the flame has gone out and the coal is just burning, you can place it back down on your tray and move on to the next one.

You must then wait five minutes to ensure that the accelerant has burned off and the coals have reached a consistent temperature. You are then ready to place them on your foil and smoke.

If you are looking for the perfect place to get hookah coals, check out our selection at MOB Hookah — we have both high-quality quick light coals and natural hookah coals for your collection.

And if you want more blog and article posts like this, keep checking back here at our blog for all things hookah. 


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

Hookah Heat Management and Coal Placement | Hookah.org

The Definitive Guide to Shisha Coals | Hookah.org

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