• Shaman

A simple guide to Hookah Charcoal

Let's talk about coal. From the perspective of Mr. Shaman.


This is not the holy guide to hookah charcoal.

It may be that you do not agree with some things you will read in this guide.

I do not claim to be some sort of Hookah God, I'm just sharing my experience from my many years of experimenting.

The aim of this guide is primarily to help beginners, but also provide additional information to those wanting to explore other ways to smoke, and to seasoned smokers seeking solutions to problems they encounter during their sessions.

Finally, I want to comment that every smoker has their own way of doing things.

I invite you therefore not to follow each instruction that you will find in this guide, but to adapt it to your most comfortable way of consuming hookah products with your own hardware and tobacco.

Different Types of Hookah Charcoal

As the hookah industry developed, so did the various consumer preferences with charcoal.

Historically, self-lighting charcoal (quick-light) ruled supreme.

Nowadays, far more people prefer natural coal, which are of substantially better quality.

In this section, I will be listing the various types of charcoals and in what scenarios they will be useful.

1. Self-lighting Charcoal

Self-lighting charcoal, also known as instant-light or quick-light, was until recently considered the classic go-to charcoal for hookah excellence. There are several formats: round, cubic, and in several sizes. The best-known shape is the round charcoal, roughly 33mm diameter.

As an avid hookah connoisseur, I seriously do not recommend you to employ these types of coal because not only do they contain harmful chemical agents such as benzene, which produce a substantial amount of carbon monoxide during ignition, but they are also highly flammable. Lastly, these types of coals produce very low heat, lots of ash, and may affect the tobacco taste. Despite this, some smokers are fond of this coal for their speed of lighting, ease of preparation, and use.

If you are prone to use this charcoal, I recommend using them on a flat clay bowl, and a thick amount of aluminium foil. You can also use this coal as a heat-starter for your natural coals.

2. Natural Charcoal

Natural charcoal has experienced an enormous uptake in the recent years.

They are made from various wood or nutshell-based material, originally marketed as bamboo-based charcoal, and have recently been dominated by coconut-based charcoal.Natural charcoal come in various sizes and formats, adapted for various heat management devices (HMD), and produce various types of heat output.

Let’s explore the different formats in more detail:


Half-cubes coals, also known as "flats". Flats are basically half-cube charcoals. These are very handy, ignite fairly quickly, and may be even essential for smokers seeking a gentle heat output. The best-known brand in Europe are the Tom Cococha Blue. They come in