Hookah is a type of water pipe that can be used to smoke various herbs and tobacco, but most people use the apparatus to enjoy a plethora of shisha flavors. Modern hookahs have a few additional features than the original versions from circa four to five hundred years ago.
What Is a Hookah?
Like all water pipes, hookah uses the universal solvent as a coolant and filtration medium. The basic concept is you heat some tobacco, herbs, or shisha flavors in one part, the smoke flows through water, and the filtered and relatively cooler smoke is delivered through a mouthpiece.
Unlike cigarettes, a hookah does not burn the tobacco. The apparatus uses convection heat and not combustion, or even conduction. Hence, a hookah does not produce the byproducts of burning tobacco like a cigarette or cigar. Essentially, hookahs extract the flavors from the substance that you choose to smoke without literally igniting and burning the material.
Components of a Hookah
Contemporary hookahs have a base or vase, stem, bowl, tray, hose, valve, and essential accessories. Let us get familiar with these parts and their respective functions.
A hookah base, usually made of glass, is the foundation of the entire apparatus. The base sits on a table or stable platform and you assemble the other pieces atop. Also, the glass base is the water chamber. This base hosts the hookah and accumulates, cools, and filters the smoke.
The stem, also referred to as pipe, is the spine of the hookah. A hookah may have one stem or two connectable parts to form the whole upright spine, depending on the design or model. Irrespective of that, a hookah stem is installed into or onto the glass base or vase.
A hookah stem may be stainless steel, aluminum, silicone, wood, bamboo, brass, or a combination of different materials. The bottom end of the hookah stem is fitted to the base. Some hookahs have stems with diffusers at the bottom tip to create a bubbling effect.
A hookah bowl, usually made of clay, sits atop the stem. There are regular designs and variants, such as vortex and phunnel bowls. The bowl is where you will pack the shisha tobacco or herbs to smoke. Like all other components, hookah bowls have various sizes and glazed colors.
The hookah tray sits below the bowl and is fitted to the stem. This is basically a placeholder for burning charcoal and also a literal ashtray. Also, you can keep the pair of tongs and other small components like grommets on the tray when they aren’t in use or if you have pieces on standby.
The hookah hose is a coiled pipe that you use to draw the smoke out of the hookah. In most hookahs, the hose is fitted into the stem. All hookah stems have a dedicated hose port. Some models have multiple hose ports. Contemporary hookah hoses are generally made of silicone.
Most hookahs have a purge valve. This valve serves the function of flushing out smoke and air from the hookah. The purge valve is usually on the stem, a protruding feature on the panel that also has the hose port. You can exhale air through the hose to blow smoke out of this valve.
All hookahs have at least three grommets, usually of plastic or rubber. The grommets are for the stem, bowl, and hose for their respective assemblies. Also, hookahs have a pair of tongs to handle charcoal, two cleaning brushes for the different parts, and other optional accessories.
How To Use a Hookah
You need two more essentials to use a hookah that won’t be included in the box unless you purchase a combo or there is a special offer. These essentials are charcoal and aluminum foil, or a heat management device as the latter’s alternative. If you use instant or quick light charcoal, a regular lighter or your stove may suffice, but you need a burner for natural charcoal.
Here are the simple steps to use a hookah:
- Assemble clean hookah parts starting with the base partially filled with water.
- Choose your preferred shisha tobacco and pack it in the hookah bowl.
- Wrap the hookah bowl with aluminum foil or place a heat management device atop.
- Light the charcoal, let them turn hot, and place two or three pieces atop the foil.
- Wait till the shisha tobacco is sufficiently and uniformly heated to produce smoke.
- Draw a puff or two using the hose to test, start smoking, and make necessary changes.
Start with just enough water in the base to submerge the bottom tip of the stem. Pack the hookah bowl lightly with the shisha tobacco. Use bright red hot burning charcoal to generate sufficient heat to produce the flavorful smoke in your hookah.