Hookahs produce harsh smoke due to excessive heat generated by the charcoal. Lack of adequate airflow, excessive tobacco in the bowl or stuffed packing, poor wrapping of the aluminum foil, scorching heat management device, and improper handling of the charcoal are the common reasons for harsh smoke from your hookah. This guide discusses three simple ways to prevent harsh, burnt, and choking smoke from any hookah, irrespective of the brand or model and the shisha tobacco flavor you choose.
Avoid Overstuffing the Hookah Bowl with Shisha Tobacco
A standard hookah bowl has a diameter of three inches at the top. The height is usually around four inches. The maximum capacity of such clay bowls is forty grams of shisha tobacco. However, there is no rule that says you must use the maximum capacity. Forty grams of shisha tobacco in a standard hookah bowl leads to overstuffing. The optimum capacity is twenty to thirty grams for one typical session.
A fundamental requirement for hookah smoke to be expectedly flavorful and desirably cool is adequate aeration inside the bowl. The shisha tobacco must be packed in the bowl while ensuring there are sufficient air pockets. It is the air that enables uniform heat distribution inside the bowl. Aeration is crucial to generate voluminous flavorful smoke. Don’t press the shisha tobacco down into the bowl. Use a foil poker or a fork to make air pockets inside the bowl after you have placed the tobacco. The best way to pack is sprinkling some shisha tobacco and gradually filling up the bowl to just below the rim.
You can use less than twenty grams of shisha tobacco in a standard hookah bowl. Do not exceed thirty grams. Never dab or dry the shisha tobacco to get rid of excess juices. The tobacco is supposed to be moist or mildly wet and juicy so it does not burn swiftly. Drier shisha tobacco flavors tend to burn very quickly and you will get harsh smoke if you do not reduce the number of charcoal or quantum of heat.
Use an Optimum Number of Charcoal Pieces
Charcoal is the heat source for your hookah. Use too many pieces to heat the shisha tobacco and you will have harsh smoke. Using fewer pieces than the optimum requirement will not generate enough smoke. You have to strike a balance. This takes a bit of practice as people have varying experiences.
There are quite a few variables at play: the type of bowl, the quality of shisha tobacco, the flavor you choose, the size of the charcoal pieces, and the use of aluminum foil or heat management device, among others. Let us focus on the best practices. A standard hookah bowl loaded with twenty to thirty grams of shisha tobacco needs two and three 25mm charcoal pieces for heat management device and aluminum foil respectively. If you are using larger pieces, then reduce the count by one. If you are using smaller charcoal pieces, then increase the number by one. Aluminum foils require more pieces than heat management devices.
If the smoke gets hotter than usual, remove a piece of charcoal from atop the bowl. If there isn’t enough smoke, add a piece of hot charcoal to the heat management device or on the aluminum foil. Do not use too many charcoal pieces simultaneously. Use the tray at the neck of the hookah stem to temporarily place the extra charcoal pieces on standby. Also, use the tray to ash the charcoal pieces when needed.
Practice Proactive Heat Management to Prevent Harsh Smoke
Do not put a scorching heat management device atop your hookah bowl. The shisha tobacco inside the bowl should be gradually heated and not immediately burned. Always use red hot charcoal pieces but in moderate counts.
Place the charcoal pieces at a distance on the foil or in the heat management device. You can place two pieces around the edges on opposite sides and one near the center. Do not let the pieces be too close to one another. Keep changing their positions during a session. Take blacked out pieces off the foil or heat management device. Add fresh pieces when needed.
Do not make large holes in a foil. This will lead to faster heating up of the shisha tobacco, harsh smoke, and a much shorter session. If you aren’t drawing puffs for a while and the smoke/air inside the hookah has gotten uncomfortably hot, blow out through the hose and let the purge valve get rid of the heat.