Heat Management is often a slightly overlooked part of the hookah experience, but also one of the most important things to get right. I have heard many different ideas as to what makes one hookah session better than the other. "The taller the Hookah, the more coals you need" "This Hookah doesn't make big clouds" " I only get good smoke with such and such charcoal." You name it, we have heard it. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misconception when it comes to Hookah and how it works. Once you have gotten a bit of experience with Packing techniques, and heat management, you should be able to get any Hookah set up smoking like a champ! The single most important part of what will give you good flavor, optimal clouds, without burning or being harsh is the bowl, how you load the bowl, and equally as import is the way you manage the coals and the heat. With the ever growing popularity of the more clean, longer lasting Coconut Charcoal in lounges and retail, it takes a bit of a learning curve to adjust from quicklights of old, but when done right, you'll never look back! We thought it would be a good time to go back to basics and talk about the optimal ways to manage your coals during your Hookah session.
Make sure to check out our tutorial for Packing or Loading an Egyptian Bowl if you are having trouble with the first steps. Once you have your bowl loaded, you are ready go!
Step 1. You're going to want to make sure your Coconut charcoal is lit up properly using a stove, a single coal burner, or another strong heating device.
Step 2. Once your coals are fully lit(glowing on each side without any black left on them) You are ready to place them on the bowl. How many coals you start with is going to be determined by the size of the bowl you are using. Generally for a standard Egyptian style bowl, 2-3 Cubes, or 3 Flat coconut coals is a good place to start.
Step 3. Start by placing your coals more towards the edge of the bowl, you don't want to set your coals in the center as it can shock or scorch your shisha and cause it to be rather unpleasant.
Step 4. Once your coals are properly placed on the bowl, give it a bit of time to heat up, or you can use the Hookah Starter Pro to get the bowl smoking right away.
Step 5. Now that your hookah is putting out smoke, you will be able to gauge the heat level more precisely. A lot of times people will start with an extra coal to get the Hookah going strong, then drop a coal off once the bowl hits the optimal temperature and smoke output.
Step 6. Once your Hookah is smoking well, try to do as little as possible to the coals as you can. After a layer of ash starts to form on the coals, usually 25-30 minutes into the session, you will need to ash them. Simply drop them in the tray to knock that layer off, then make sure to return them to the same spot on the bowl, otherwise you may lose some of the consistent heat the bowl is getting.
Step 7. As your coals are dying down and you go to add a second round, delicacy becomes very important. You don't want to just switch out the small coals for full sized bricks of fire. Doing so will surely roast the bowl and give a very unpleasant taste. When switching coals out I recommend adding 1 less than you take off. For example, if you had 3 going, take them off and replace them with 2 new coals. You want to keep them in a similar spot as the coals you are taking off, but keep the new ones even more towards the edge so you can ease the heat on and avoid frying your session.
This isn't exact science, but I hope this guide can help give you a good baseline as to managing heat with Coconut Charcoal.