Hookah charcoal comes in three major varieties. “Natural”, lump natural and quick light varieties.
Correct use of coals is very important for a perfect smoke and is called heat management. Read our complete guide to hookah heat management. Whatever kind of charcoal you us make sure that the coal is entirely lit. Nasty flavors and harsh smoke can result if the coal is not glowing red.
You can also make your own hookah coals at home.
Natural hookah coals contain no additional chemicals and require a prolonged heat source to light. These can come in two major categories. “Natural lump” has not been reshaped and still retains the shape of the original wood. Second is reformed charcoal which takes crushed charcoal and forms it into a standardized shape to make for a more consistent and controllable product.
- Pros: They do not add flavor to the smoke and burn very cleanly. Less smell when lighting. Long lasting.
- Cons: They take a long time to light and require a constant heat source like a campfire or stove burner.
Coco Nara is made from compressed, carbonized coconut shells. Fairly expensive but very high quality. Long lasting and very clean.
Coco Mazaya is a coconut charcoal made by Coconara. Cheaper than the original Coconara coals and in a slightly different shape in the form of a cube. Considered to be of the same quality as the original line but some people like one shape over the other.
Another coconut coal considered to be of mid range quality. Cheaper than some higher end coals but there is debate as to the ratio of quality vs cost.
A cube shaped coconut coal that is produced by Coconara. The cheapest of the coconara produced charcoals. High quality for the price. Rumors that these are being discontinued have been circulating. Considered to have a very high quality compared to their relatively low cost.
A coconut coal that has been released by Ultimatehookah.com. Similarly priced to Coco Naras. This area will be updated soon with commentary on their quality.
A new brand of coconut charcoal that has been released by Hookah-shisha.com. These just started shipping so reports on their properties have been scant.
A large, cube shaped coconut charcoal widely used in Europe. About twice as large as the more standard coconut charcoal found in North America. These coals are hard to find in the US and have only recently been picked up by a few vendors.
A brand of compressed wood charcoal that is the product of Exotic Imports LLC. These coals have a large bar shape that is meant to be broken down to the size you need for your bowl. Newer version have come pre-scored with lines to make the bars easier to snap.
Exotica also produces a Japanese silver tab style charcoal.
Another popular brand in Europe. Made from compressed coconut charcoal these are considered to be high quality. Now being distributed in North America.
A Japanese silvertab style charcoal branded for Socialsmoke.com. As with all silvertab coals you want to let these light fully and to the point where the silver coating is easily coming off.
Quick Light Coals
Coated in easily ignited chemicals so that they light very quickly.
- Pros: They start burning very fast in less than a minute. Some can easily be lit with a single match.
- Cons: They cost more than natural coals. Some of them add unwanted flavor to the tobacco. An unpleasant smell is released when lighting.
Belgian makes two kinds of coals. A reformed natural that comes in a 40mm disk and a quick light version that comes in 33mm and 40mm sizes.
Three Kings are the most commonly used quick light coals.
A very fast lighting charcoal best used outside because of how violently they light. Lots of smell when lighting but very clean smoking. A very coarse texture.
Golden Coals are quick light coals with a very fine texture.
Widely considered a bad brand that causes headaches and off flavors.