Hookah is not complicated. But beginners may be a tad perplexed about the various parts, what the components do, and how to smoke hookah.
Also, there are different types of hookahs, shisha tobacco flavors, and charcoal. So, beginners may need a simple yet complete guide to understand everything about hookah. Well, here it is:
What Is Hookah?
Hookah is a smoking apparatus, also known as a water pipe. You use the apparatus to smoke various types of tobacco-based flavors, albeit not all have nicotine. Also, hookahs do not burn tobacco, unlike cigarettes and cigars. Instead, hookah uses convection heat to produce smoke.
Before we get into how a hookah works, let us quickly understand the different parts that make the entire apparatus.
All hookahs have a base, also referred to as vase. This base is made of glass. Different types of glass and shapes are used by all the major manufacturers. However, all glass bases serve the same purpose.
Hookah stem is a pipe that you fit into the glass base. The stem or pipe hosts the other parts and also serves as the conduit for the smoke. This stem is made of different materials, subject to the manufacturer, including steel, brass, etc.
The hookah bowl sits atop the stem. Made of clay, which could be earthenware or stoneware, the bowl holds the hookah tobacco that you will smoke. The common types of hookah bowls are Egyptian, vortex, and phunnel.
The hookah tray sits at the neck of the stem, just below the bowl. This part is an ashtray and charcoal holder. The tray may be metal or an alloy, but it has to be resistant to high heat.
The hookah hose is what you use to draw the smoke out from the apparatus. Some people may refer to this hose as hookah pipe, while many refer to the stem using the same word. The best washable hookah hoses are made of silicone.
The grommets are basically seals, typically made of rubber or plastic. A standard hookah kit has 3 grommets for the base, bowl, and hose. The largest grommet fits the stem to the base. The 2 other grommets fit the bowl and hose to the stem, respectively.
Hookah tongs are used to handle the charcoal. Some people also use these tongs to toggle the hookah tobacco, but you can always use a fork or other similar utensils. The tongs are handy because you need to rotate and move the charcoal at different stages.
The purge valve is a one-way air outlet featuring a ball bearing or similar mechanism. You can get rid of stale air and also blow out smoke when the entire apparatus is assembled using the purge valve. This valve is usually next to the hose port on the stem.
Hookah charcoal is the heat source. There are instant-light charcoal variants that ignite quickly because of a chemical accelerant. Natural hookah charcoal is made of crushed coconut shells, which is a tad expensive but much better than the quick-light types.
Aluminum foil is used to wrap the hookah bowl. Also, the foil hosts the charcoal unless you use a heat management device for the same purpose. Foils aren’t included in hookah kits.
- Heat Management Device
A heat management device is a separate tool or accessory for hookahs. A hookah kit doesn’t include this piece, but standard packages also don’t have charcoal and aluminum foil.
In any case, a heat management device is better than foil as it can prevent the influence of the ambient breeze or wind. Also, such devices facilitate easier charcoal management.
How Does Hookah Work?
Here’s how a hookah works:
- The hookah base holds water and the bowl has the tobacco.
- You place hot charcoal on the foil or heat management device.
- The foil or heat management device is atop the hookah bowl.
- The charcoal heats the tobacco in the bowl, producing smoke.
- This smoke flows through the stem, into the hookah glass base.
- The water in the hookah glass base filters and cools the smoke.
- You draw the relatively cool and filtered smoke through the hose.
How To Smoke Hookah
Here are the steps to smoke hookah:
- Buy a hookah kit or the various parts separately. If you buy individual components, ensure all of them are compatible.
- Fill the glass base with water and set it on a flat, steady table. Use the large grommet to fit the stem into the base.
- Slide the tray down the stem and it will stop at a ridge. Fit the hose using a grommet into the stem.
- Pack the hookah bowl with tobacco, wrap aluminum foil around it, and poke holes. Or use a heat management device.
- Fit the bowl atop the stem using the third grommet. Light the charcoal and place the pieces atop the foil or in the device.
- Let the heat work on the tobacco for a few minutes, take a few trial draws, and gradually start smoking your hookah.