3 Ways To Light Hookah Charcoal

Apr 26 , 2022

3 Ways To Light Hookah Charcoal

You must always use thoroughly lit or ignited and burning hot hookah charcoal. Do not put partially burning charcoal on your hookah, whether atop a foil or in a heat management device.

Unevenly burning hookah charcoal cannot generate the required heat to extract the flavors from the shisha tobacco. Also, your hookah will not produce the voluminous smoke you want.

The process of lighting hookah charcoal depends on the type you use and the tools available. 

How To Light Hookah Charcoal

There are three types of hookah charcoal that most people use:

  • Quick or instant-light charcoal
  • Natural charcoal made from coconut husk
  • Wood charcoal (bamboo, orange wood, lemon wood, etc.)

Igniting an instant or quick-light charcoal is the simplest of all three available varieties. However, these charcoal pieces have a chemical accelerant. The chemical essentially facilitates the initial burn, so the charcoal lights up much sooner than the natural varieties. 

Natural hookah charcoal made from coconut husk, bamboo, orange wood, or lemon wood require more time and special tools to light and burn. However, these pieces do not have any chemicals. So, the smoke you draw out of a hookah is healthier and more flavorful. 

Natural wood charcoal is not identical to those made from coconut husk. The source of wood charcoal determines if it will lend anything to the flavor and texture of your shisha. In contrast, a natural charcoal piece made from coconut husk does not add any flavor or texture to the smoke. 

  • Lighter

  • You can use a regular lighter to ignite instant or quick-burning charcoal. Like some people, you may use a match. However, a cigarette lighter is more convenient. Despite the quick-light ability of an instant-burning charcoal, the pieces take some time to burn thoroughly and evenly. 

    The process of igniting an instant or quick-light charcoal is as follows:

    1. Take the pair of tongs that came in your hookah kit.
    2. Hold a charcoal piece firmly and safely with the tongs.
    3. Light the lighter or a matchstick and ignite the charcoal.
    4. Instant-light charcoal will sparkle as it starts to burn.
    5. Turn off the lighter when the entire piece is sparkling.
    6. Allow the charcoal piece to turn red and then gray.
    7. Place the well-lit and burning charcoal on the hookah.

    This method applies to all instant or quick-light charcoal. Also, you may use aluminum foil or a heat management device for your hookah. The lighting method does not change based on what you use to place and hold the charcoal atop the shisha bowl.  

  • Gas Stove

  • You can use a gas stove to light hookah charcoal, especially if it is natural. You do not need a gas stove or any such source of strong flames to burn instant-light charcoal.

    Here is how you can use a gas stove to light natural charcoal (coconut husk or wood):

    1. Light the gas stove and put the flame to medium or high. 
    2. Use the tongs to place hookah charcoal on the flame. 
    3. You can ignite multiple charcoal pieces using a gas stove.
    4. Place all the charcoal pieces and regulate the flame, if necessary.
    5. Wait for the charcoal to turn red from black, eventually gray.
    6. Some charcoal may look almost white instead of gray.
    7. Take one piece off the flame at a time as each burns thoroughly.
    8. Place natural charcoal atop a hookah only when the pieces are fully lit.

    You can use the same tongs that you have in your hookah kit to handle natural charcoal. Also, you can use natural charcoal, whether coconut husk or wood, on both aluminum foils and heat management devices. 


  • Charcoal Burner

  • Last but not least, you can use a charcoal burner to light the natural variants. However, you do not need a special charcoal burner to ignite the instant-light varieties. 

    Different types of charcoal burners and lighters are available today. Some electronic and other variants are specifically designed for hookah charcoal. Like a heat management device, you can consider a one-time investment in a burner, especially if you use natural hookah charcoal. 

    How Long Does It Take To Light Hookah Charcoal?

    An instant or quick-light charcoal takes a few seconds to start sparkling. A lighter may be faster than a matchstick. This ignition aside, you must wait for the charcoal to start burning completely, which could take a minute or longer depending on its quality. 

    Natural charcoal takes five to ten minutes to burn properly, whether wood or coconut husk. And this wait time is for gas stove and charcoal burners. If you use a regular lighter or matchstick, you may have to wait much longer than ten minutes.

    All types of hookah charcoal should be lit on all sides. So, you must flip these pieces to expose the different surfaces to the flame, regardless of the lighting method. 

    Also, hookah charcoal pieces are thoroughly burning when they begin to turn gray or whitish, not red or orange. Any orange or red hue is the transition phase from black to gray or white.