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Splitting Coconut Charcoal

Heat management is a tricky devil and matching the right charcoal with the right bowl can be a learning experience that requires the sacrifice of many grams of shisha tobacco. The heat is too low, too high or just right. Don’t you wish you could fine tune the heat and get it perfect for every size of bowl you use? Let’s do this.

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With traditional, hardwood charcoal it’s fairly easy to break apart the unlit chunks to get the right size and shape but that’s wasteful and extremely messy. Coconut charcoal is much denser and harder to break, so we need a slightly different technique. The best way to do this is with a small saw. I prefer a small coping saw with fine teeth. The blades are thin and make very fine cuts, which doesn’t waste too much charcoal. A coping saw is easy to handle, tough to hurt yourself with and accurate. It’s everything you need for this project and pretty cheap as well. I picked mine up for under 10 bucks on Amazon. Along with your saw you’ll need a couple pairs of pliers.

Sawing a hookah coal

Now that you’ve gathered your tools, lay your charcoal chunk on a solid clean surface that you don’t mind getting dirty. This is going to get dirty. Take a pair of pliers, get a good grip on the piece of charcoal and start sawing a line across the center. The pliers are there to keep your fingers away from the blade and, while not entirely necessary, are a nice piece of protection. You don’t have to go crazy and saw like a lumber jack because charcoal is relatively soft, so you can go quite slow but it’s nice to be extra safe. The more you cut through the brick the easier it is going to be to break but you really only need to saw maybe 1mm into the surface. You’re scoring it to make splitting easier and not cutting all the way through. You could just saw it in half but that would take a very long time and make a lot of pointless charcoal dust.

Splitting Hookah Coal

Now we take a second set of pliers, grab the charcoal on either side as shown above and snap that brick in half. It should break pretty cleanly along the line you scored earlier, but remember that you’re going to get some small pieces flying off. Do this in an easy to clean area or outside and make sure to protect your eyes. If you’ve never had a scratched cornea you should just trust me when I tell you it’s well worth taking an extra step of precaution. If you don’t have some safety glasses then close your eyes. Observing the break doesn’t make it any cleaner.

Split Hookah Charcoal

If you don’t have a coping saw you can achieve pretty much the same thing by using a serrated steak knife but it’s a little less accurate and a bit easier to hurt yourself, so make sure to take extra precautions and go slowly. Coconut coals cuts easily. Take it easy.

Split Hookah Coal

That’s it. The process is easy and can help you to really fine tune your sessions. The age of barely under heated bowls is at an end! Truth be told, I rarely use this technique but it’s a great option to have on mini-funnels and other tiny bowls. Try it for yourself. There is almost no way to screw this up but if you find a way then your only out a few pieces of charcoal at the worst. More likely, you’ll find a new level of control over your sessions.

Split Hookah Charcoal on Bowl


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Smoking hookah is an encompassing experience derived from your surrounding environment, the hookah you’re enjoying and your interactions with the people around you. A big part of sharing this experience with other people is observing proper hookah smoking etiquette.