This Is How to Set up a Hookah the Right Way

Since the late 17th century, smoking hookah is a popular passtime in the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia.

Smoking hookah is a fantastic way to unwind, catch up with loved ones, and try a delicious array of flavors. Perhaps you’re eager to enjoy hookah but you’re unfamiliar with the components and setup.

Sounds like you? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here is how to set up a hookah. 

What Is a Hookah?

Before you buy a hookah pipe, it’s important to know the answer to the burning question “what is a hookah?”

This is the name given to a large water pipe through which you smoke flavored tobacco. Traditionally, hookahs were reserved for men but nowadays, it’s acceptable for women to enjoy smoking hookah too.     

What You’ll Need

Hookah pipes are made from multiple components.

The hookah stem is a crucial element as it connects to the port and your hose. You can find a hookah stem in many materials but stainless steel is the most popular as it prevents corrosion and promises a crisp taste. 

Note, the hookah pipe only works if you have a pressure release valve, a tiny plastic ball that plugs the airway so you can enjoy the smoke. It releases harsh smoke from the base so you receive fresh shisha vapor. 

It’s also crucial that you get a hookah base that looks like a flower vase. This holds the stem and water which cools and filters the smoke before you inhale through the mouthpiece. 

You’ll also need a hookah bowl to hold the tobacco. It’s usually made from clay and it sits, on foil, at the top of the stem with hot coal.

Another important component is the hookah hose which comes in a huge selection of materials depending on your preference. This slides into the hose port in the stem so you can inhale the tobacco. To ensure that the hose stays in place, you’ll need rubber grommets to seal the airflow. 

How to Set Up a Hookah

You know the different parts, so now you’re ready to start preparing a hookah for your friends.  

First, fill your hookah base with liquid. You can add cold water but there’s a risk that it will dilute the tobacco flavor, so go with room temperature instead. Make sure you fill the base one inch above the downstream, otherwise you won’t be able to draw on the tobacco. 

Feel free to experiment with other liquids to discover new flavors. You could try adding wine, fruit juice, and even add several breath mints for a fresh smoke. But make sure you never drink the contents afterward, as it will contain harmful chemicals. 

Then, attach the stem to your base. Use the rubber grommet to ensure the seal is airtight so you have good airflow. Once done, attach the hose and the main part of setting up a hookah is done. 

Packing the Bowl

Open your shisha packet and stir until there are no clumps. Sprinkle the tobacco into the bowl so it is 3/4 full, making sure it doesn’t clog any of the holes. Then, press it down so there’s an even layer, but avoid packing the shisha too tight as it’ll be difficult to take a draw.

Next, stretch aluminum foil over the bowl so that it’s taut. But ensure that the shisha doesn’t brush against the foil otherwise your tobacco will taste burnt.

Then, grab a toothpick to poke at least 20 holes so there’s enough hot air flowing through the shisha. If you aren’t receiving enough smoke, add more pricks. Using tongs, place two small coals onto the bowl and wait for them to burn until they’re caked in gray ash. These should be on the foil, near the edge, and space them out so you get an even pull. 

How to Smoke a Hookah Pipe 

Unlike smoking cigarettes, there’s an etiquette when smoking a hookah pipe. For instance, you must grab a fresh mouthpiece and take several deep pulls on the hose, before passing to the next person. 

Newbies may feel lightheaded, which is a normal sensation, so take it slow until you adapt to it. It’s important that your group consistently smokes so that the coals stay alight and the shisha burns properly. You may need to adjust the charcoal during the session. 

Want to learn how to blow smoke rings? 

First, take a long draw but don’t inhale the smoke. Instead, hold the smoke in your mouth so it makes a thick ring. Keeping your lips shut, slightly shift your tongue back so that it presses against the bottom of your mouth. 

Pretend you’re enjoying a sucker so your cheeks form an “O” shape before clicking your lower jaw to blow a smoke ring. 

Cleaning Your Hookah Pipe

You’ve had a relaxing time, and you’re ready to pack the pipe away. To extend the pipe’s lifespan, make sure you clean it after every use to avoid grime building up inside the base and stem. 

Once you’ve removed the bowl, mix dish soap with warm water to clean each component. Wash the hose, but don’t leave it to soak as it will rot. Instead, thoroughly dry each piece before storing it away.  

How to Set Up a Hookah

Hopefully, after reading this article, you know how to set up a hookah with confidence. 

Make sure you have the right equipment so you have a stress-free setup. It’s important to learn how to correctly pack the bowl and use the charcoal so that your group can enjoy a steady smoke session. Have fun! 

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