There are four types of hookah charcoal available in varying sizes. Every type of hookah charcoal warrants a particular stepwise approach. In this guide, we shall discuss the popular options and how you must use them for maximum efficiency.
Quick Light Hookah Charcoal
Quick light hookah charcoal is the most convenient option. Manufactured by several brands, quick light charcoal is so called because of its ability to be ignited in very little time. You do not need any heating equipment or special lighter. A typical cigarette lighter will do. You may even use a few matchsticks or a candle to light these.
The easy lighting up is facilitated by a chemical, which serves as the accelerant. This chemical is also the reason why quick light hookah charcoal tends to add some odor and unpleasant texture to your shisha smoke and flavor. The chemical accelerant also speeds up the burn. Hence, each briquette of quick light charcoal lasts for a much shorter period than other variants.
Silver Hookah Charcoal
Silver hookah charcoal is also a quick light variant. The difference lies in the type of chemical used as an accelerant and how it serves the purpose. A typical quick light charcoal has the chemical accelerant throughout its composition. This ensures a fast burn. Silver hookah charcoal has a coating of the chemical accelerant. Thus, the pieces light up quickly but the charcoal burns steadily after the silver coating is gone.
You can ignite silver hookah charcoal using a standard lighter. It does not lend as much unpleasant odor or texture to shisha smoke and flavor. It is widely considered to be a better option than the normal quick light charcoal. Silver variants tend to last longer than quick light charcoal, which means you will need fewer of them for a session.
Natural Hookah Charcoal
There are two types of natural hookah charcoal, one made from coconut shells and the other sourced from wood. Both are healthier alternatives to quick light or silver hookah charcoal. Natural hookah charcoal made from coconut shells, lemon wood, orange wood, or bamboo doesn’t contain any chemical accelerant.
The lack of any accelerant also means you will need a special burner. Most natural hookah charcoal variants require a heating device. A standard piece of such charcoal takes at least five minutes to start burning properly. You will have to place the pieces on a hookah charcoal burner for three to four minutes for one side to heat up adequately. Then, you must flip the pieces to let them start burning entirely. You must never use partly lit hookah charcoal, irrespective of the type you choose.
The Ideal Number of Hookah Charcoal Pieces for a Session
If you are using 33mm quick light or silver hookah charcoal, two pieces should suffice for small to midsize bowls. If the size of the charcoal pieces is larger, say 40mm, then you may consider breaking the second one into two. Since quick light and silver hookah charcoal pieces burn quickly, the heat generated and imparted is also higher, so you must limit its use to avoid scorching the shisha tobacco.
If you have a large bowl that is densely packed, you might need two to three pieces of quick light or silver hookah charcoal. Sessions longer than thirty to forty five minutes may need a change of charcoal. You must rotate the charcoal pieces, replace the blacked out ones, and replenish them for long sessions.
Natural hookah charcoal burns slowly and lasts long. You may use three to four standard pieces for a midsize or large bowl. If you have larger fingers or flats of natural hookah charcoal, then restricting the number to three or two is better. You can always add more if needed. Natural hookah charcoal must be rotated too, but a replacement may not be necessary unless you are aiming for two hours per session.
Expert’s Tips on How to Use Hookah Charcoal
Quick light charcoal will sparkle as it gets lit. As the pieces get red hot and thoroughly ignited, place them atop the foil or inside your heat management device. Do not place half-lit pieces or those that are already laden with ash.
Natural charcoal, be it coconut shells or wood, does not sparkle. It will turn bright red or orange when hot. As the pieces get thoroughly lit, you will notice the charcoal turning grey. Some pieces may also turn a little white. This is not due to ash. Place natural charcoal atop the foil or in a heat management device only when the pieces turn gray or white from bright red or orange.