Jan 08

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 Hookah-Shisha.com 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! 🙂

May 07

Hookah Review: “Mini Night Light” from Hookah Town

Not that long after I published my hookah tips, I received an e-mail from Hookah Town guys asking me to review one of their hookahs on my blog. They offered to ship me a hookah to keep in exchange for this very review. So here it goes..

 a "mini night light" hookah kit I received

here is a "mini night light" hookah kit

    It was very well packed and arrived the next day, after I agreed to review it. As it is seen from the picture, this is a "double hosed", small, travel hookah. It is very light and easily fits on my small kitchen table, while me and my guests are drinking tea.

    First thing I noticed when I unpacked everything was that, compare to some other vendors I dealt with in a past, all the "nuts and bolts" of this hookah were in brand new condition. It is also very neatly done, having no slipshod spots – all the parts match and are screwed to each other, which provides a good seal. The only part that has no threading (to screw in) is the glass base which is sealed through a rubber around the pipe.

    What I found interesting about this hookah is that both inputs for hoses are enhanced with bearing balls.hookah filter bearing ball    These balls work as valves and filters at the same time, and here is how. Firstly, when two people are smoking there is no need to cover a "non-smoking" hose with a finger, because it is always closed by this bearing ball unless smoke is inhaled. Secondly, when there is no inhalation, it keeps smoke from going out of the glass base, which helps to maintain the amount of smoke during session, and also it keeps the hose cleaner. 

smoke through bearing ball filter

     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.

     This hookah is very easy to clean since practically everything is "unscrewable" and washable. Here is what it looks like completely disassembled:

hookah disassembled

    The overall smoking experience was nice. One thing to notice is, however, since this is a small-travel hookah, the pipe is short and it does not filter necotine and tar as it would in full-blown hookahs. The hoses are short as well making "lying on a sofa" smoking impossible – but it can be easily fixed by buying longer hoses.

    The bowl for tobacco, that was shipped with the hookah is large and deep which allows to pack a lot of tobacco in to enjoy the richer taste and amount of smoke.

    There is also a switch that turns on a blue light around the pipe that is a part of that "new chill" that Hookah Town guys are talking about. 🙂

hookah setup

The above is my final "mini night light" setup

Mar 07

10 Hookah Golden Tips

Here is a quick reference to what was learned during years of practicing hookah/ shisha/ sheesha/ water pipe/ nargeela/ nargile/ narghile/ nargileh/ argeela/ arghileh/ okka/ kalyan/ ghelyoon/ ghalyan/ goza…

Here are the “golden tips” 🙂 that were collected, followed, tested and confirmed from different places (hookah bars, web sites, people) including personal experience.

The strategy was split into three sub-goals:

  • Get as much taste/flavor as possible
  • Get as much smoke as possible
  • Get one session to last as long as possible

The taste is a very unique creature – several different things need to be setup right and work smoothly with each other to produce a rich and strong taste.

A lot of smoke can be reached easily (just make a fire in a room 🙂 ) but a quality of smoke and a session itself may suffer.

The longer session, the more relaxing the experience is, but it needs to be done the right way, so that this experience is truly relaxing.

Here they come – no assumptions, no stories, just “golden tips” 😉 …

1. A coal should NOT touch tobacco while smoking. This is a very important thing to notice, since the “peak of the taste” comes about 5-10 minutes after the beginning of the session, and if a coal touches tobacco, the taste will no longer be pure tobacco taste, but will also have a burn flavor, since the top of the tobacco will be burning.

2. The deeper the bowl – the better. This just supports the point above, since if a bowl is deep, enough tobacco can be packed into it allowing an air buffer between a coal and tobacco.

3. Have tobacco sit for about 20-30 minutes before packing into a bowl. This is sometimes called acclimatization, where tobacco is unpacked, sprinkled on a piece of paper/foil, and let to be sit there (opened to the environment’s air) for some time before packing it into the bowl. This gives tobacco a stronger flavor, since its substance balances out with a room/outside temperature.

4. Sprinkle tobacco into a bowl instead of put it in as one piece. When tobacco is sprinkled into the bowl, it has a better chance to get a hit from a coal, as well as it lets hot air to pass better, which makes the smoke richer and the taste/flavor stronger.

5. Go with a lot of small holes instead of a few big ones. Instead of making several big wholes in the foil, take a needle or a simple staple and make a lot of small holes in the whole foil’s surface. These will allow more air to pass (if the whole surface is covered), as well as an even distribution of the hit.

6. Move that coal around. By moving a coal around a foil/bowl’s surface every so often (5-10 min) more tobacco will be engaged in a session, making the session longer and the taste/flavor stronger. When the coal is there on the same place for the duration of the whole session, tobacco, right under the coal “goes” pretty fast, and other tobacco is “not utilized”, which makes it fast and tasteless.

7. Clean the hookah periodically – all the parts. Cleaning is not always pleasant and the best time spent, but it pays off really well, especially if strong flavors (like mint or any citrus, etc.) were used, or the burn effect occurred. Make sure to clean not only the bowl and the glass part, but get a special long and narrow brush to clean the pipe itself. The hose(s) needs to be washed as well. Things to note: if a “filter ball” is made out of metal, make sure the water does not get into it.

8. Different hose for different effect. Get a “heavy” leather hose for a huge amount of smoke, and get a “light” hose winded up with metal stripe (to cool off the smoke) for the richer taste/flavor.

9. “The more coal the more smoke” – the more chance of burning and shortening the session. A lot of places advise more coal for more smoke – this is true, but there are “consequences”.. More coal is more hit – higher chance to burn the tobacco. More coal is shorter session, since tobacco is “gone” faster.
Alternative solution for more smoke is to use different hoses, as described in the point above, as well as to make sure the hookah is well sealed.

10. Green tea is the way to go! Green tea along with the hookah makes flavor/taste richer, and the overall experience healthier and simply magnificent!

More tips to come..

Leave you comments – to create a discussion 😉

P.S. Here is a very good place with a lot of useful information: hookah forum