Lay out all the cleaned components of your hookah on a table. New hookahs, fresh out of the box, must also be cleaned before the first session. Use a checklist to ensure all parts are ready for use. The typical checklist is hookah base, pipe or stem, hose, bowl, tray or plate, grommets, tongs, aluminum foil or heat management device, charcoals, shisha tobacco, a lighter or burner, a fork or toothpick. You may want to use a tip for the mouthpiece of the hose.
- Hookah Setup
Fill up the glass base of the hookah with sufficient quantity of water. You can use normal tap water. It can be at room temperature. Those who prefer a bit denser and milkier clouds or cooler smoke can add two ice cubes. Don’t use cold water straight out of the fridge. The glass should not be abruptly exposed to extreme cold or heat.
Insert the pipe or stem inside the base and check if the water level is appropriate. The lower end of the stem must be around an inch deep into the water inside the base. Adjust the water level till you have enough, neither more nor less. Take the large grommet and fit it onto the pipe. Insert the pipe and ensure a snug fit with the base.
Neither the base nor the pipe should wobble post installation. If the grommet is not ensuring a perfect fit, use some tape or rubber band to facilitate the process. You need a steady base and stable stem when you start smoking and move the hose around.
Take the tray and slide it down onto the stem from atop. Take the hose and its corresponding grommet. Fit it into the hose port or connector. Check the purge valve once, to ensure it is functional. Inhale and exhale a few times through the hose to check if air is passing without any obstruction.
- Bowl Setup
Take the bowl, recheck if it is absolutely clean, and start filling it with your shisha tobacco. You can use your hand or a fork. Do not squeeze shisha tobacco. There is absolutely no need to dry the tobacco. All the juices or apparent moisture in the tobacco must go into the bowl. Do not use any paper or towel to dry the material before putting it into the bowl.
Pack the bowl densely if you want a long session and bolder smoke. Opt for a light pack otherwise. When you put the tobacco inside the bowl, try to use a sprinkling action. You must not stuff the tobacco in. Do not press the tobacco as it will form a sticky pulp. You need an aerated sprinkling of the tobacco throughout the packing process.
There should be enough tobacco inside the bowl, and sufficient air. Too much tobacco and excess air are undesirable and will have an adverse effect on your smoking experience. Ensure an even or uniform spread of the tobacco throughout the bowl, all the way from the circular edge to the center. The surface of the filling should be more or less flat. Use a toothpick to poke the tobacco so there are air pockets for the heat to evenly work its way throughout the stuffing.
- Charcoals Setup
The charcoals setup depends on whether you are using a foil or a heat management device. For foils, you must first wrap the bowl with one or two pieces and poke an adequate number of holes. Use a toothpick but only its tip to create tiny holes. Use the third grommet to fit the bowl atop the stem.
Light the charcoals using a lighter or burner. Wait for two to three minutes so the entire pieces of the charcoal start to burn. Ash the pieces and then place them around the bowl, or as required in the heat management device. Do not put all charcoals at the center on a foil. The heat must be distributed uniformly.
- Begin Smoking
Let the charcoals work for up to four minutes, depending on their sizes and type of hookah you are using. Take a few puffs and see if you can draw some smoke. Wait for a while as the tobacco gets adequately heated to produce flavorful smoke. Take a few puffs once in thirty seconds or so to speed up the process if you want.
You should have enough smoke to draw within three to five minutes after placing the hot charcoals. Keep changing the placement of the charcoals on the foil. Don’t forget to ash them now and then. Get fresh charcoals if needed for a longer session.