Beginners have two options while purchasing their first hookah. You can choose a hookah kit that includes all the essential parts and a few accessories. Alternatively, you may buy the parts separately. However, these parts should be compatible with one another for your hookah setup.
Whether you buy a kit or hookah parts separately, you ought to know about the essentials and accessories. This guide explains everything you need to know about hookah parts.
The Base / Vase
The base, also known as vase, is the foundation of a hookah. Usually made of glass, the base or vase holds water and houses the stem.
A hookah base has a flat bottom, but the rest of the shape can vary. There are dozens of unique designs available today. Some hookah vases have lights and other features to make them more alluring.
Also, hookah bases have various sizes, generally proportional to how small or large the overall setup is.
The Stem / Pipe
The stem is a pipe or tube. The cylindrical stem's lower part or down stem goes into the base or vase as you assemble a hookah.
The hookah stem is usually made of stainless steel, brass, or other materials. Many stems are coated and polished. Some are decorated with embellishments.
A few modern hookah stems have a diffuser at the lower end or tip. These diffusers create a bubbling effect when you draw smoke through the hookah.
The hookah bowl is where you pack the shisha tobacco, which is then mounted atop the stem. Traditionally, hookah bowls are made of clay, and glazed to make the material waterproof.
Today, you will find a variety of hookah bowls, especially designs and colors. The standard bowl has one sizable or several tiny holes at the center so that the smoke can pass through to the stem. A problem with such bowls is the shisha tobacco juices dripping down into the pipe.
Thus, most shisha enthusiasts prefer alternatives, like a vortex or phunnel bowl. A vortex bowl’s center is slightly raised compared to the base. The holes are on this raised feature and not at the base of the bowl.
A phunnel bowl is like a funnel, so a central spire has a hole. Since the spire is raised from the base of a phunnel bowl, you do not have to deal with any juices dripping into the hookah stem.
The hookah tray is essentially a charcoal holder. Also, you can ash the charcoal on the tray. In most hookahs, the tray slides down the stem from the top end, and sits a little below the bowl. These trays are usually metallic or steel, and they can hold burning hot charcoal.
The hose is your smoking pipe. The inexpensive hoses are usually made of plastic with a metal coil inside. These hoses are unwashable. In contrast, silicone hoses are washable.
A typical hose has a wand at one end that you hold while smoking shisha. You may use plastic mouth tips when sharing the hookah with your friends. The other end of a hose is the connector that goes into the port on the hookah.
The Ports and Grommets
A basic hookah has one hose port. Some hookahs have two or more hose ports. These ports are generally on the connector of the down stem or pipe. Also, hookahs have at least three grommets.
One large grommet is used for the stem to fit snugly with the base. A medium sized grommet is used for the bowl fitting onto the stem. And the third grommet, usually the smallest, is used to fit the hose into its connecting port.
The Purge Valve
The purge valve is near the hose port. Also known as the pressure release valve, this feature allows you to blow hot smoke or stale air out of the hookah. In time, you will learn to use this purge valve to check for leaks in a hookah as you assemble the parts.
Hookah charcoal can be synthetic (quick or instant-light) and natural, made from coconut shells. Natural charcoal is costlier but also healthier. Instant or quick-light charcoal is more affordable and easier to use. However, the synthetic variants have a chemical accelerant.
You can use aluminum foils to wrap your hookah bowl. There are standard and heavy-duty foils available. Heavy-duty aluminum foils are more suitable for hookah.
Charcoal / Wind Cover
A charcoal holder or wind cover is an accessory. You can use a wind cover to protect the charcoal atop the bowl. Or, you can use a charcoal holder that serves both purposes. Generally, such parts are not included in hookah kits.
Heat Management Device
A heat management device is not exactly a wind cover or charcoal holder, but it does both. Heat management devices allow you to house the charcoal pieces, move them inside the tool, and regulate the hot air that goes into the bowl, thus heating the shisha tobacco inside.
Tongs and Brushes
A pair of tongs is used to handle burning hot charcoal. Brushes are used to clean the hookah parts. A standard hookah kit includes tongs and two cleaning brushes, one thick and another slender. The thicker brush is for the glass vase or base, while the slender one is for the stem.