In general, coconut coals are made of coconut shells. To be able to compress them properly, it needs certain ingredient to use it as a binder and this is where all the variants come : the smell, the longevity, the consistency and the heat output. If it is manufactured honestly, the statement of being 100% natural is true, but that’s not necessarily the case for every brands.
The only tips that I can tell you is by looking at the color of the ashes. I may not be a veteran of coals, because it’s the only thing I hate try. Usually, natural coconut coals tend to be gray-ish including their variant. Depending on the season, the quality of the soil of the coconut tree changes according to the concentration of potassium and calcium. Either way, the ash should be more gray-white or gray-brown. When it is brown, it must be filled with coloring or something else. When it is white, it’s because the coal is filled with woods. The reason white ash is prominent, is because it’s a color that we’re used too. It feels like they are more normal/natural. Coals filled with woods tend to have more ashes. The brown one is from MOB, the gray one is from Cocourth and the white one is from Genie coco by MYA.
As of the quicklight coals, they are made of ingredients that actually accelerate the burning process. Their purpose is to ignite incense as fast as possible, but they were not made for hookah. So the strong smell it is releasing is questionable. Either way, the quicklight should not be used anymore even if it’s convenient and opt for coconut coals which is less toxic. Coconut coal still releases carbon monoxide, so it’s suggested to smoke in a ventilated environment.
ANY SUGGESTION ?
Depending on what it is accessible for you, Cocourth coals are propably a trust worthy brand that I can suggest you in Canada. They are consistent on their batches, the coals doesn’t break easily, the quantity of ashes is decent, they offer many sizes to accommodate all the needs and the smell is bearable, but it is known to be slightly hotter than some other brands. The best way to recognize good coals is to ask other people and avoid trying random brands yourself :D.
WHAT SIZE SHOULD YOU GET ?
For the start, I would suggest to opt for the 25mm (also known as cube). It’s the standard size. It takes around 10 minutes to cook with a generic electric coil burner and they last about an hour and 15 minutes. And now it all depends on the layout and the gear you’re using to transfer the heat to the bowl.
When you are using a spiral spacer (or a flavor saver), it might requires more heat. If you’re using a heat management device, it might not need as much as you think. Either way, it’s all about managing the heat to your needs.
If you think it gets too hot, try flat coals (which are rectangular/thinner). If you’re lazy and want an option that last a little longer, but at the same time hotter, you might want to try large cubes (26mm). Anything bigger than that would not be recommended, because they require more times to cook and also more heat management.
As for myself, I simply like to use a heat management device like provost 2 from AppleOnTop, and use two 25mm cube. With that device, I have more opportunities to adjust the heat with the lid. When the lid is on, it can be very hot. If it’s too hot, you can space out the lid to reduce the heat (tilt configuration) or you can remove it completely and still enjoy the session with lower heat.
THANK YOU !
Please feel free to leave a comment below on what you’d like to see in this space or ask a question. If you need recommendations, you can ask directly to the team of Jinxhookah :).
Otherwise, I’ll be reachable on instagram for anything hookah related. Thank you !