When it comes to hookah charcoal, everyone has an opinion on what to use and how to use them. Whether you prefer Ring Coals on a Vortex Bowl or Natural Coconut Cubes on a Jumbo Mya Bowl, the most important thing is to make sure that your coals are properly lit.
Quick Lite Coals
Quick-Light Charcoal is great for travelling, or for use when a stove is not readily available. They are layered with accelerant which allows for this kind of hookah coal to simply be lit with a lighter. You will notice a spark, then in about a minute the whole coal will be cooking. Just because the sparks stop, DOESN'T mean that it is ready. Make sure that the coals have gone completely gray before you place them on your bowl, this should take at least 5 minutes. The black parts house the accelerant used to ignite the coal, and if it has not all burned off, then your hookah will taste bad and you will get a headache from inhaling the chemical fumes. Once they're gray, you're good to smoke!
Natural Hookah Coals
The other main type of coal is natural hookah charcoal. These coals are generally made of coconut or bamboo, and have no chemical accelerant on them. Because of the lack of accelerant, they take a little longer to heat, however they leave no aftertaste, and they provide a more consistant heat than quick-lights. The best way to heat these is on a coil stove top. Lay them on the coils for 5 minutes on high (or medium-high) heat, then flip them over for another 5 minutes. They are done when they are completely gray. If you have a gas or ceramic top stove, we recommend heating your coals in an old pan that you don't mind getting coal dust on. This method may take a bit longer to heat. You can also pick up a handy dandy single coil electric charcoal heater.
Now, go forth, heat your coals, and smoke away!