A hookah is a time honored traditional smoking apparatus composed of a large glass base for water (or any liquid), a tall attached stem with either one or multiple hoses and a large bowl on top which holds the shisha (tobacco in a fruit molasses.) Hookahs date way back to the persian empire and is still commonly used today. Shisha comes in many flavors such as fruity, creamy, or minty. It is also really easy to mix flavors.
How to set up a hookah
- First, make sure you have all of the pieces to your hookah. Your hookah should have a base, a shaft and downstem, a grommet for the shaft, a hose connector and hose grommet for each hose, release valve equipped with a ball bearing, a tray for ash, a bowl grommet and bowl, tongs, coals (quick light or natural), a bowl screen or tin foil to make your own bowl screen, and of course your shisha.
- Pour water or liquid into the hookah base. There should be enough water to cover an inch above the bottom of the downstem once it is attached.
- Make sure the downstem is screwed on or attached to the shaft and that the shaft has it’s grommet before attaching it to the base.
- Attach your hoses to the hose connectors. Make sure the hose connectors have the grommets in them to fit the hoses snug. You can apply any mouthpiece tips to the hose mouthpiece if you want.
- Attach the tray. With most hookahs, you must first unscrew the bowl connector at the top of the shaft to fit the tray on, then screw the bowl connector back on top.
- Fit your bowl grommet onto the bowl connector then gently but snugly fit your bowl over the grommet.
- Using your hands or tongs, gently apply your shisha into the bowl. You do not want to squish the shisha down and you do not want to over-fill the bowl either. Make sure the shisha does not go over the top of the bowl. We recommend getting wyw-level with the top of the bowl to make sure you did not over-fill it.
- Fit your hookah screen over the bowl and make sure it is sealed tightly or if you do not have a hookah screen, you can use a 4×4″ square of tin foil and tightly apply it over the top of the bowl (shiny side down) and around the sides. Poke holes in a circular manner all over the top for air flow.
- If you use your tongs to apply the shisha, make sure you clean them off well and dry them before using them to hold your coal/s. Hold your coal with the tongs to light it. Quick-light coals are easiest to light, though are not as healthy and leave a different chemical taste to your shisha. Using a torch or gas-light stove is the easiest way to light your coal/s. Natural coals take longer to light but last longer. Once your coal is lit all the way and glowing red, you may place it on top of the bowl screen.
- It takes a bit of time and effort to get your smoke going well and thick once you set the coal over the bowl. It is best to take several long deep drags off the hose to pull the heat into the bowl and get it rolling.
how to take care of a hookah
You really want to thoroughly clean your hookah every day after you have finished all of your sessions. Make sure your hookah has completely cooled down first. Take your hookah completely apart. Dump out all of the ash and leftover charred shisha into the trash and dump the water into the sink. You want to rinse each part out (except for the hoses) with hot water – the bowl, the stem, the body, the bowl, and all the grommets – and scrub all the parts with a different sized brushes.
Unless your hose was advertised as a “washable hose” you do not want to rinse it with water because most hoses are made with a metal coil on the inside, which can corrode or rust if it gets too wet. The best thing to do is simply hang it up in a cool dry place to prolong its life as much as possible. If you did happen to purchase a washable hose, either made or lined with plastic, you really only want to run hot water through it a few times and then hang it up to dry overnight in a cool dry place.
If your hookah has been heavily used and needs a deeper cleaning, you can definitely use vinegar, lemon juice, dish soap, or cleaners such as Formula420 to help you get stubborn grime away. If your clay or ceramic bowl is stained black, it can be tricky to clean and you may want to get a cleaner to help get that residue off. Just make sure you gently scrub the residue off with a softer brush so you do not wear down the glaze on the bowl.
Once all of your hookah parts are scrubbed clean, lay the pieces out to completely dry overnight. Cleaning your hookah often and letting it dry completely every day that you use it will prevent transient shisha tobacco flavor residue, which can cause all of your flavors to taste the same. It also prevents mold build-up.