How to Setup a Hookah

how to set up hookah. mya - paragonIt is quite a challenge to setup a hookah (shisha/ sheesha/ water pipe/ nargeela/ nargile/ narghile/ nargileh/ argeela/ arghileh/ okka/ kalyan/ ghelyoon/ ghalyan/ goza…) correctly – in a way that it will produce a maximum taste, smoke, length of the session and overall human pleasure. Biggest problems usually come from a lack of experience. But there are very and ultra experienced Earth Beings that can help.

Today I had a pleasure to talk to Kyle from who is one of ultra hookah people. Kyle was very forthcoming and gladly shared the correct recipe of preparing the hookah. Here, I give the microphone to Kyle:

“Regarding your taste question, I’ll walk you through how I load my bowls and see if this helps a bit. Generally, you really want to use as high a quality shisha as possible, as this really plays a large role in the overall taste that you experience. So, assuming your hookah is airtight and you have clean water in the base to just above the bottom of the downstem (about 1″ above the bottom of the downstem is good), you should be able to proceed with loading the bowl as I describe below.

Start by breaking the shisha into small clumps and drop them into the bowl loosely. I prefer to load my bowl to just below the rim, so the tobacco will not be bulging or overflowing when you put the foil on. Try not to pack the shisha into the bowl too much. A little packing is okay, but you want the bowl to breathe well so all the air will be getting to the shisha. I put the foil on, shiny side down, and make sure it’s pulled nice and taught over the rim of the bowl. I take extra time to smooth out the foil that’s been folded over the side of the bowl so everything is nice and clean and as air-tight as possible.

I then poke a whole bunch of really small holes using something fine like a safety pin, or a really sharp toothpick or something of the sort. The idea is to have as many holes as possible so the foil will breathe really well, but make sure the holes are not so big that ash falls through them as your coals burn. Once you have the holes poked, you should take the bowl and put your mouth over the opening at the bottom, blowing through the tobacco and foil, then gently sucking back in. You’ll want to keep your hand tight over the rim of the bowl while doing this so your foil stays nice and tight. This is a pretty important part of the process, as it helps you determine how well the bowl breathes. The better the airflow, the better your smoke quality.

At this point it’s time to put the bowl on the hookah and get your coals ready (if you haven’t already had them warming up). When using the Golden Coals, I usually suggest using 2 x 33mm coals or 1 x 40mm coal. Shisha varies from brand to brand as to the amount of coal needed to get a perfect smoke, and you will need to experiment with the amount of coal you use. In general, I say that a little more coal is a little better than too little… and if the flavor gets harsh and makes you cough, that’s an indication that the heat is too strong and the shisha is burning. At that point, you want to take the coal off the bowl and let the shisha rest a little. You should also be moving the coal around the outside of the bowl as you’re smoking.. maybe move it every 10 or 15 minutes.

As long as you’re following the instructions above, you’ll be loading your bowl properly and your hookah should smoke well.”

Thank you Kyle,

Happy Hooking Everybody! :)


  1. very nice guide. thank you for sharing!

  2. I am not a big Hookah smoker, smoke it every once in a while. But it does seem true that if you have a good air flow, the smoking experience is way better!

  3. This article is quite good. Glad I found it.
    You should post this on, so many more people will see it, as “how to setup a hookah” is, I guess, the most frequent question there on a forum.

    Thank you,

  4. If you want to check out a hookah lounge near you check out this website under lounge directory.

  5. The other obvious use of a “valve-ball” is forcing the smoke out of glass base when needed. When there is a taste problem, or just too much smoke than desired, blowing into the hose will result in a pressure within a glass base that will open up a “ball-valve” and let the smoke out.So that blog is very useful for us.

  6. Smoking out of a hookah is amazing for a group of friends, but setting it up seems difficult to a beginner. Your how to setup a hookah guide is a great help.

  7. I am not a hookah freak, but will surely look into your techniques.

  8. wow ))
    its very reasonable article. I do smoke hookah pretty often, but you just opened my eyes on something really awesome I did not even think trying before..

    Good post.
    realy good post

    thx :-)

  9. The blowing through the bottom is new to me and I will try it tonight when we hookah. One “secret” i have learned, and it works, is to take 5 small square pieces of paper (2.5″ x 2.5″) and roll them into tight cones (I place tape on the ends to they can be used more than once), so that the small end fits into the holes in the bowl. Place one paper cone in each hole and pack your tabacco all around it (you can pack it pretty tight). Once it is all packed, pull out the paper cones and now your tobacco can breathe while still having a nicely packed bowl. I learned this secret from the new liquor store owner down the street and use it every time.

  10. Hey Barb,

    Thanks for the tip – it make sense. But it seems to me you’d have to use natural coals for that, since the coal aftertaste would be more obvious. Will try it anyway :)

    – Toly

  11. i love u Ghalyaaan

  12. Hookah Cleaner

    WoooooW!!!!!!!!! Really a great idea regarding Hookah… I am not a regular hookah smoker but i like to read such a nice article for my own improvement.

    Thanks a lot for sharing with us…………

  13. Very informative thanks. I’m also going to try blocking the holes with toothpicks instead of paper.

  14. This was the first time I set one up for myself and man, you had me blown tasty phat CLOUDS!!! It was like as if i was a pro. Hell, you mad me a master of my first try ever..

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