How To Light Natural Coals on a Flat/Electric Stove



The Problem
If you've ever tried to light a coco-mazaya, coco-nara, or other coconut-based coal on a flattop stove you know how futile the exercise is. Here at Sukit Hookah we use small single burner hot plates that use a coil system to light them. This type of burner allows for much greater air flow around the heat points which gives the coals the extra 'umph' needed to light fully. But what if you don't have a coil burner or similar device?
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The Solution
The answer is to use a heat diffuser. I tried this at home on my electric range and it worked like a charm! These are meant to 'diffuse' heat from flame sources or uneven surfaces onto your cooking pans in an even fashion. I tried a number of different diffusers and similar equipment and have listed three of the better solutions below. Each of these has it's own pro's and con's so there should be at least one to fit everyone's situation.
Disclaimer
We do not encourage anyone to try this without first consulting the manual and other manufacturer documentation first. Just because this worked safely for us does not mean it will be the same for you. Sukit Hookah is not responsible for any damage or injury caused from the misuse of your appliances.
Chemex Wire Grid
The Chemex Wire Grid worked best fo mer (pictured right). This got my coals up to temp really fast but doesn't have a handle and lets a lot of coal touch the stove.
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Chemex wire grid photo
Safety (for the stove): +
Cost Effectiveness +
Convenience: -
laboratory wire meshlaboratory wire mesh
Safety (for the stove): +
Cost Effectiveness +
Convenience: -
Laboratory Wire Mesh
The next best diffuser is actually a wire mesh used in laboratory equipment pictured left). These get up to temperature pretty quickly and provide a lot of protection for your stove. They can be a little tough to work with and you have to make sure they are perfectly flat but are super cheap.
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Norpro 144
has a handle which makes transporting coals a cinch but it does take the longest to get up to temperature. It's basically two pieces of stainless steel sandwiched together with both vents (transverse channels between the sheets) and ports through them to aerate the surface (exactly what coconut coals need).
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Norpor Heat Diffuser
Safety (for the stove): +
Cost Effectiveness -
Convenience: +
table-top fan
Other Accessories
One more thing you may want to consider is a small table-top fan (pictured left) to help circulate air.  We recommend waiting until one side of you coal is fully lit and bright orange and then flip it and turn on the fan.  The added air flow (after the coals have started lighting) will help accelerate the process.  If you turn it on too soon all you'll end up doing is whisking away the heat and adding more light time.
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