This post was updated on 12/18/2018
Natural Hookah Coals are the cleanest way to smoke shisha and will let the flavor of your shisha really shine. The easiest way to light these coals is on an electric coil stove with an exposed heating coil or a single coil heater but you can also heat these coals using a gas stove. Never light natural coals on an flat top (ceramic) electric stove as they will crack your glass stove top.
Set your natural coals directly on the heating element and turn the burner on, flipping the coals after 3 to 4 minutes. You will know the coals are ready once all of the black surface of the coals has turned red / orange and they are completely covered in gray ash. This process usually takes between 5 to 10 minutes depending on the heat setting you use on the coal heater. If you do not have an electric stove, or you would like to know about an alternate method of lighting these coals, read this HookahLove post on how to smoke a hookah with proper hookah charcoal heat management
Quick-light Hookah Coals are easier (and quicker, hence the name) to light than natural coal. Simply hold a tablet of coal in the tongs above a source of flame, such as a lighter or struck match. Be careful, as the tongs may become hot! The coal will begin sparking and smoking when it ignites. Watch to make sure that the sparking spreads across the entire surface of the coals and after the sparking ceases, place the coal in the hookah's tray until there is a layer of ash covering it. Charcoal that still shows large sections of black (un-ashed coal) is not quite ready to smoke, as it is still giving off the combustion fumes that all coal gives off when heating up.