The Ins and Outs of Hookah: An Overview

The Ins and Outs of Hookah: An Overview

Posted by S. Wyatt Price on Dec 23rd 2021

[Intro]: Hello again and welcome to the exciting world of hookah! This smoking system has been around for about 400 years after originating in India around the year 1600. A cultural and social sensation in the Middle East and Europe, hookahs became popular in the United States only recently. In the lesson below we’re going to take a look at building a hookah, packing a bowl, and more, but in order to do that, we must first dissect the anatomy of a hookah.

[Getting Started]: In order to begin your hookah adventure, you’re going to need a few things other than the hookah you just purchased. You’ll require foil, shisha, and charcoal, but we’ll get into that after we explain what the different parts of a hookah are. Most of the time hookahs are bought as a set, but pretty much every item on a hookah can be upgraded as long as the parts fit, which can vary by brand. In order to get the desired cloudy effects from your hookah experience, you’ve got to be paying attention to airflow, packing method, heat management systems, and the type of charcoal you’re using. All of these factors dictate the sort of sesh you’re going to have.

[Anatomy]: first and foremost, let’s start with the bowl.

[Bowl]: the bowl sits on the very top of the hookah and cradles the shisha, which directs vapor down the hookah stem and ultimately through the hose and into your lungs. Bowls come in ceramic, glass, and silicone varieties and some come with a special lip in order to fit a heat management device instead of foil.

[Ceramic]: Ceramic bowls are great starter, functional bowls, but can be prone to staining, which is what happens when shisha juices leak through and stain their flavor inside the bowl.

[Glass]: Glass bowls are more prone to breaking, but produce the cleanest flavor possible, as glass bowls feature the least staining.

[Silicone]: Silicone bowls are best for durability and travel, as they’re incredibly difficult to break. Silicone bowls also feature low staining, as it is not a porous material.

[Ash Tray]: An ashtray is the cup like object that sits around the shisha bowl. It’s used to catch any free falling ash from the charcoal, as well as providing a spot for the charcoal to rest when there’s too much heat. You’ll know there’s too much heat when the smoke is extremely harsh and the taste is significantly charred.

[Bowl Grommet]: A rubber grommet is used to secure the hookah bowl to the stem for an air tight fit.

[Stem]: The hookah stem is the main portion of the hookah that directs smoke down into the case,Stems can be made of many materials including stainless steel, brass, and aluminum. They’re also available in many different styles and heights, but primarily divided by country of origin.

[Egyptian Hookahs]: Egyptian hookahs are usually brass and hand crafted. These can last a lifetime, but make sure you’re cleaning it because brass is prone to rust.

[Russian Hookahs]: Russian hookahs are usually crafted from stainless steel and shaped in an elegant, modernistic design.

[German Hookahs]: German hookahs are known for their high quality stainless steel and simplicity.

[Pressure Release Valve]: The pressure valve us usually opposite the hose port on the base of the hookah stem. It contains a ball bearing that closes when you are smoking and opens when you blow into the hose, which allows you to clear harsh smoke stored in your hookah.

[Vase Grommet]: A rubber grommet is used to secure the hookah stem to the vase for an air tight fit which also stabilizes the hookah.

[Downstem]: The downstem is connected to the bottom of the hookah stem and it reaches down into the vase. It often features muffler-like holes or slits that allow for more effective smoke diffusion.

[Vase]: The hookah vase is the base of the hookah. It holds water for cooling and filtration. Vases are usually made from acrylic, glass, or crystal.

[Acrylic]: Acrylic bases are efficient, though not the first choice for experienced smokers, as glass and crystal are less porous and offer a cleaner taste.

[Glass]: Glass is a high quality and relatively durable material that barely stains and provides a clean flavor use after use.

[Crystal]: Crystal is a high budget material that is extra durable and resilient. Crystal will not stain because it’s not porous at all.

[Heat management system]: Heat management systems are used to regulate the air on your bowl in order to burn the shisha faster or slower. Heat management systems do not come with every hookah set, but can be purchased individually. These are utilized in place of foil.

[Hose]: A hookah hose attaches to the stem using a hose grommet and allows you to inhale filtered smoke from the hookah. Hoses usually come in leather, plastic, and silicone varieties.

[Leather]: Leather is more for the traditional hookah set up and a rare sight in night clubs or otherwise out in the wild.

[Plastic]: Plastic hoses are often used at social functions because they are easily replaced and cleaned.

[Silicone]: As with plastic, silicone is often a favorable choice for bars and places planning social events because they’re easily cleaned and cheaply replaced. They’re also relatively durable.

[Hose Port]: The hose port is at the base fo the hookah stem and is where you secure the hookah hose.

[Hose Grommet]: A rubber grommet is used to secure the hookah hose to the stem for an air tight fit.

[Tips]: Hookah tips come in tons of different variations that range from disposable plastic covers that are used for sanitary purposes to frozen tips and even flavored tips! Non specialty tips are made from plastic, silicone, metal, and wood.

Charcoal: Charcoal is an essential ingredient to the hookah equation because it’s what’s burning your shisha inside the bowl. The two main types of charcoal are quick light and natural coals.

[Natural Coals]: Natural Coals are crafted from their namesake and usually feature coconut husk as the main ingredient.

[Quick Light Coals]: Quick light hookah charcoals are the coals of choice for hookah smokers that prefer the ease and convenience of lighting their coals quickly with the flick of a lighter. ... The hookah coals in this section are easily lit in seconds with a cigarette lighter or torch lighter and will stay lit for up to 45 minutes.

Charcoal is also graded by quality with A being the highest, longest burning and D being the lowest quality and shortest burning, though there really isn’t a huge difference in numbers when comparing the A quality to the D quality.

[Shisha]: Shisha is molasses, glycerin, or honey-soaked tobacco that is packed into the bowl of your hookah and enjoyed. Each shisha is effected by heat differently depending on how it’s packed, as well as the saturation of the tobacco, and quality of tobacco itself. There are hundred of brands and flavors of hookah, but here at Cloud 9 our most popular are

[Al-Fakher]: Al Fakher is the most popular hookah brand in the world and for good reason! This shisha is known for it’s high quality and wide range of flavors from fruity to mentholated blends.

[Starbuzz]: Starbuzz is our second most popular variety behind Al-Fakher. Starbuzz is known for its intense flavors and icy menthol varieties.

[Eternal Smoke]: A Turkish tobacco with a dense juicy consistency for huge clouds.

[Trifecta]: Trifecta is primarily a brand for aficionados and taste makers that enjoy in your face flavors.

[CBD Shisha]: TKO also makes a cbd shisha blend that’s enormously popular.

[Packing a Bowl]: When packing a bowl of shisha, there are three different styles or ways that you can do it, each providing a different type of burn and a different smoking experience.

[Fluff Pack]: a fluff pack is a light pack with plenty of room for shisha to breath. This style will allow for a quicker, lighter smoke

[Semi-Dense Pack]: a semi dense pack will allow for a middle of the road burn rate and cloud density

[Dense Pack]: and lastly, a dense pack will be the slowest burn with the most smoke density.

[Accessories]: As I previously mentioned, most hookahs come in a set with all of the accessories you need, but there are often aftermarket upgrades and changes that may pique your interest the deeper you get into the hookah experience.

[Coal Burners]: Coal burners are electric coal starters that slowly start the burn on your coal in order to have a cleaner burn and a clean taste.

[Tongs]: Tongs are used to take coals from the coal burners and place them onto your foil or HMDs.

[Molasses Catcher]: Rare to find on many hookahs and stop the molasses from dripping into the stem of the piece.

[HMD]: A heat management device is a metal cover that goes over a hookah bowl in place of foil and allows the to control the airflow, which in turn also controls the heat output and retention of the device.

[Foil]: Foil is relatively basic and simply features aluminum foil with various holes in it to allow for the coals to effectively burn the shisha.