Self Lighting Charcoal: Such as Swift-Lite and Three Kings brands have the advantage of lighting quickly and easily. The disadvantage is that they produce an odor during the lighting process, but this disappears as soon as the entire tablet is lit.
To Use: Place sand in the bottom of your incense burner, then place a charcoal tablet on top of the sand. If possible, take burner and charcoal tablet outdoors to light. Using a match or lighter, light the edge of the charcoal tablet. Tablet is ‘lighting’ when it continues to ‘crackle’ after the match or lighter is removed. Allow tablet to sit approximately 3 minutes.
Charcoal does not have to be lit outdoors. It is non-toxic and even safe for Hookah smoking. But all 'self-lighting' charcoal tablets produce an unpleasant odor during the lighting process. This odor will usually burn off completely once the tablet is fully lit, in about 3 minutes. Generally once the smell is gone, the tablet is ready. Place incense directly onto charcoal tablet when ready or see Tip below.
Note: charcoal may look cold when it is hot! When first lit an almost invisible flame will move across the tablet and begin the burning process. After this first burn, should the tablet be extinguished or go out, the flame will not move over the tablet a second time. This will allow it to be picked up and blown on if needed for relighting. Because of this...
Do not hold a new, self-lighting charcoal tablet in the hands during the first lighting!
Untreated Charcoal: Or 'nonself-lighting' such as the Easy Lite and the Japanese tablets - create no odor even during the lighting process but they all require holding a flame to them for a few minutes and blowing on the tablet to get them lit. Once lit they are used exactly like the self-lighting brands. Some prefer using a blow torch for lighting this type of charcoal as this speeds up the process. A propane blow torch can be purchased at any hardware store for about $10.00.
Once lit and allowed to burn for a few minutes, all brands (we carry) will burn very clean with no unpleasant odor and all are considered suitable for hookah smoking.
Tip: Lay a small piece of aluminum foil over the top of the burning charcoal tablet, then place the incense on top of the aluminum foil. This will make the incense last longer and will greatly decrease the amount of smoke produced.