All beginners make a few common hookah mistakes that are entirely avoidable. However, some errors are inevitable as you experience the trial & error of perfecting your hookah sessions. People don’t use identical hookahs, whether the shape and design or capacity of every component. Naturally, you may have to tweak the standard practices to suit your setup.
In this guide, we discuss 7 common hookah mistakes beginners make, avoiding which will deliver you a delightfully delicious experience every time. Yet, you will need to adapt the thumb rules, depending on the hookah type & size, shisha tobacco flavor, number of users at a given time, and setting, as the immediate surroundings have an unavoidable impact on your session.
1. Excessive or Insufficient Shisha Tobacco in the Hookah Bowl
Excessive shisha tobacco in a hookah bowl reduces the space for hot air to pass through. Also, overstuffing restricts the volume and number of air pockets amidst the shisha tobacco. You won’t get sufficient smoke coming out of an overstuffed hookah bowl.
On the flip side, too little shisha tobacco in a hookah bowl means barely any flavor. You may have just hot smoke flowing out of the hose. Also, you should not pack the tobacco inside a bowl too tightly, irrespective of the quantity. You need air pockets inside the stuffing.
Find a middle path based on your needs. Pack light if you are alone or sufficiently for a longer session and when you have friends. Don’t pack a hookah bowl right up to its rim where it will be in direct contact with the foil, thus heat from the charcoals, because the tobacco will burn.
2. Too Little or Excess Heat from the Hookah Charcoal
The number of hookah charcoal you can use for a session depends entirely on the quantity and quality of shisha tobacco. A well-packed hookah bowl needs at least two and usually three charcoal pieces to get started. However, one may be inadequate for even a lightly packed bowl.
You will need to change charcoal pieces during sessions that last up to an hour. Thus, it is unnecessary to use too many at the start. However, you need sufficient heat at the outset so that the shisha tobacco inside the bowl is uniformly heated enough to generate flavorful smoke.
Don’t use charcoal pieces coated with ash. Use the hookah tray to get rid of excess ash and then replace the hot charcoal atop the foil. In most cases, you won’t be able to use a charcoal piece entirely because it generates very little heat in extensively diminished forms.
3. Poorly Wrapped & Saggy Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foils should be firmly wrapped atop and around a hookah bowl. A sagging foil will allow the charcoal pieces to touch the shisha tobacco inside the bowl and you will get a burnt flavor. Think of a steady tabletop surface when you inspect the foil before placing the charcoal.
4. Overfilling the Hookah Base for the Quantity of Shisha Tobacco
Like the quantity of shisha tobacco and charcoal pieces, you must fill the hookah base with sufficient water, not excessively or scarcely. You need enough water for the hookah stem to be submerged, with the diffuser at its down tip if you have such a feature in your model.
Also, you may have to change the quantity of water depending on how much shisha tobacco you use and its flavor. Bolder flavors usually demand more water because they are strong and your hits may have a choking effect. Milder flavors will get diluted if you overfill the hookah base.
5. Not Cleaning a Hookah After or Before a Shisha Session
Using an unclean hookah is a surefire way to impair your session as it will inevitably alter the flavor of any shisha tobacco you have. Always clean a hookah before or after a session, so you don’t have to worry about residual traces, altered smoke, and mold growth, in worse cases.
6. Unintentional or Advertent Air Leakage in the Hookah
Air can leak through any poorly connected or assembled hookah component, be it the base and stem port, bowl, hose, or the foil. Don’t poke large holes or too many in the aluminum foil as those will allow more air to flow in than necessary, leading to diluted flavors in the smoke.
You may have inadvertent air leakage in the purge valve and due to inappropriate grommets. Check the sizes of those rubber or plastic seals to ensure they are perfect for the respective connectors or ports to prevent air leaks. Otherwise, get a new set of grommets for snug fitting.
7. Mishandling a Hookah When Smoking and Otherwise
Don’t carry a hookah by its stem or neck, especially when the base has water. Also, don’t smoke a hookah when it is placed on an unsteady surface. These mistakes can cost you the hookah if it breaks accidentally. You may also have scattered hot charcoal and shattered glass.