May 12 , 2021
Nearly all types of hookah have similar components. Once you are familiar with these parts and how they should be assembled, you can practically set up a hookah in fewer than two minutes. Handmade hookahs are a little tricky because the connectors may not be perfect. Machine made hookahs generally have perfectly crafted connectors and parts assuring a snug fit. Before we discuss the best way to set up a hookah, let us quickly list the typical components and the purposes they serve.
Anatomy of a Hookah
Let us begin from the bottom. There is the hookah base, usually made from glass. This is the chamber that holds water. Then you have the stem, often known as pipe. You may have one single piece as your stem or two parts that need to be connected depending on the model of your hookah. The lower part of the stem is known as down-stem. This end goes into or onto the base.
The stem has several features and ports. It may have a diffuser depending on the model. A diffuser basically breaks the bubbles and facilitates a quieter session. Diffusers may be fixed or removable. The stem has a heart, which is the bulky portion with ports. There is a hose port. You will also notice a release section containing the purge valve. Some models have more than one hose port.
The upper part of the stem, often referred to as neck or bowl stem, has provisions for you to place the tray to hold charcoals. Atop the stem goes the bowl, which houses the shisha tobacco. You will have a hose, either in the package or bought separately. Most hoses come with a handle and mouthpiece.
A hookah has at least three grommets. These are rubber, metal, or plastic connectors. The largest grommet is meant for the stem heart that should be fixed onto the base. The other two grommets are for the hose port and the tip of the stem where you would perch the bowl. These two grommets may be of the same shape and size depending on the design of the connecting ports.
The Heat Setup
There are two types of setup you can use for the charcoals. Aluminum foil is more widely used to cover the bowl. You poke holes into the aluminum foil wrapped atop and around the bowl. Light charcoals and place them atop the foil to heat the shisha tobacco inside the bowl. The alternative is to use a heat management device. You do not need aluminum foil. Instead, you place the charcoals inside or on the heat management device.
You should only place the charcoals atop a foil or in a heat management device when the pieces are well lit and burning. You can use a lighter or a burner to get started. Do not place partly lit charcoals or ashen pieces. You must also rotate, move around, and ash the charcoals throughout the smoking session.
Stepwise Guide to Setup a Hookah
- Clean all the hookah parts and lay them out on a table. Have everything handy so you do not have to interrupt the setup process, including any accessory you need, such as a lighter or burner, a pair of tongs to handle the charcoals, and a sharp tool to make holes in the foil.
- Place the base somewhere at the center of the table. Fill it up with water up to a level so only an inch or so of the down stem remains submerged. You may have to fill the base a little more if the stem has a diffuser.
- Fix the down-stem onto the base using the largest grommet. Make sure the seal is tight. Connect the hose through the port and blow out some air to see if it is working fine. You may cover the open hole atop the stem and blow again to check the purge valve. The ball bearing inside the valve should be pushed upward and air will flow out without any obstruction. Slide the charcoal tray down the stem from atop.
- Get your shisha tobacco and pack the bowl. Wrap the bowl properly with aluminum foil. Poke holes in the foil. A heat management device doesn’t require a foil. Light the charcoals. Wait for them to be red hot, and place them on the foil or in the heat management device. Start smoking in three to four minutes.
Don’t overfill the base with water. Do not overstuff the bowl with shisha tobacco. Use three to four standard pieces of charcoal. Add or remove charcoals depending on the heat generated.