Basic Necessities for Your Hookah Cabinet
Just like someone who is serious about cooking dials in their kitchen, it’s beneficial as a hookah smoker to have everything you need at hand and readily available. Sure, the title says “cabinet” but everyone with a hookah stores their hookah supplies differently [and there’s one way that’s optimal which we’ll get into].
There’s nothing more annoying about setting up your hookah and then discovering you don’t have enough shisha for a bowl. The same can be said for not having enough coals. Many things can be irritating while setting up a hookah if you’re not organized and/or prepared. Use this guide to make sure that all of your hookah necessities are ready to go before the next time you want to have a hookah session.
Basic Hookah Necessities to Always Have on Hand
First & Foremost...a Hookah!
We have a guide on how to pick out a hookah to help you if it’s your first hookah purchase. Understanding where you’ll be smoking and with how many others is good to know.
- Smaller hookahs are great for anywhere: tabletop sessions, while gaming, and traveling.
- Medium to large hookahs typically stay at home.
You may also want to consider a hookah with the ability to use more than one hose when smoking with others. Multiple hose hookahs can be smoked solo as well, so they’re a great option overall for your hookah cabinet!
The first step is to know what type of shisha you prefer to smoke. You have three options here: blonde leaf, dark leaf, and herbal.
- Blonde leaf shisha is the most popular used by most hookah smokers. It’s easy to use in any style hookah bowl and simple to load and smoke. Just a heads up, blonde leaf tobacco often times is dyed red with a food-safe dye which is why you may see differences in color across different brands. There are many different brands with tons of flavor options! Popular blonde leaf shisha brands include Al Fakher, Fumari, Social Smoke, Starbuzz, and Azure.
- Dark leaf shisha is typically smoked by experienced hookah enthusiasts. Due to the unwashed and various dark leaf tobacco used, this type of shisha has a higher nicotine level for a bigger buzz. It also requires a different type of packing method when loading your bowl. Heat management also takes a higher skill level to get the best results.
- Herbal shisha contains no tobacco therefore it also has no nicotine. The ingredients used to hold the flavored molasses can vary from sugar cane pulp, tea leaves, or apples. Herbal shisha smokes the same way as “regular” shisha when it comes to the packing method, heat management, and what bowls you can use.
It’s also important to have enough shisha on hand at all times! This varies from smoker to smoker. If you’re just starting out, you may want to begin picking up shisha in smaller sizes such as Al Fakher 50g boxes, or Azure and Fumari 100g pouches. This way you can test out many different flavors without breaking the bank to determine what flavor profiles you enjoy the most! Buying shisha in this way is also useful to have several different flavors on hand at any given point; which is nice if you plan on smoking with friends often to make sure everyone is enjoying the flavor in your bowl.
If you’ve been smoking for a while and you already have your favorite shisha flavors chosen, then it becomes easier to buy larger sizes in 200g, 250g, 1kg, or even cases of your go-to flavors. Purchasing shisha in larger sizes is also more economical in the long run.
Like with shisha, having plenty of hookah charcoal on hand is optimal! On average, a hookah will last you anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. In most cases you’ll be using at least 1-3 pieces of charcoal at a time, depending on the size of your hookah bowl and type of shisha you’re using. Most bowls can handle a second round of charcoal towards the end of the bowl which means replacing the coals that have gone out with another 1-2 pieces of coal. So all-in-all you can estimate using at least 2-5 pieces of hookah charcoal per session.
There are also two types of hookah charcoal to be aware of. The first is quick-lighting hookah charcoal. They are common for beginner hookah smokers and when you don’t have the ability to light natural hookah charcoals. Quick-lighting coals like those from Three Kings or CocoNara can be easily lit with any open flame, such as a lighter, because they contain an accelerant to light them. They are round disks typically available in 33mm, 35mm, and 40mm sizes in rolls of 10.
Natural hookah charcoals are the second type and are the most beneficial. They give off more heat for a longer amount of time, they produce little-to-no smell when lighting, and are made entirely from condensed coconut shells. The other benefit of natural coals is that they are available in many different sizes. You can find them in small cubes, medium and large cubes, flat pieces, and specialty cut pieces designed to be used with heat management devices. They are also available in many different box sizes including 45 pieces, 72 pieces, 102 pieces, 2kg boxes and more. Some of the most popular charcoal brands are CocoBrico, CocoUrth, Al Fakher, and Tom Coco.
Similar to shisha, once you discover your favorite type of charcoal to use you can also purchase hookah charcoal in bulk cases for optimal savings.
One thing to note when it comes to natural hookah charcoal is that you need a specific way to light them. If you don’t have an electric coil stove (no not the glass top kind - you’ll destroy it) then you’ll need a hookah charcoal burner. Unlike quick-lighting coals, this means you’ll need to have electricity available.
A Hookah Bowl...or Two or Three
Most hookahs today will come with a traditional or a phunnel style bowl. Either of these are great with a phunnel style bowl being better than a traditional. Phunnel style bowls have a raised spire to contain the shisha molasses once it heats up.
It’s always best to have a couple of hookah bowls on hand for those unforeseen accidents. Having a few different styles of hookah bowls on hand is also helpful. For example, if you’re smoking a dark leaf shisha a phunnel bowl is going to provide you with the best possible performance compared to the fact that blonde leaf shisha can be smoked in any type of bowl.
A Hookah Hose (or a Few)
Just like your hookah will most likely come with a bowl, most hookahs will come with a hose as well. Today most hookahs will come with a washable hose - the best type of hookah hose. There are some hookah brands that still ship with a traditional style [non-washable] hose with their hookahs like those from Khalil Mamoon and MYA Saray.
It’s always best to upgrade to a washable hose if you don’t already have one. Nearly all of them break apart into individual pieces for easy cleaning. Because of this, you can also swap out the handle of the hose for something like an AO Bazooka Ice Hose Tip or a Sheeshaya Hose Handle for more customization.
Disposable hookah hoses are something to consider to keep in your hookah cabinet as well. They’re inexpensive and great for hookah parties. While the name suggests a one-time-use, they can be washed and reused. Because of their inexpensive price point, you can grab a few at a time to have on hand just-in-case. The Al Fakher Disposable Hoses are the most popular and are available in 1, 5, 10, or 100 at time!
Foil, Tongs, & Grommets
You’ll need foil to rest your hookah charcoal atop of. Sure, you can use regular kitchen foil in a pinch, but it’s super nice to have pre-cut and/or pre-punched foil like that from Amira or AO. You could even pick up an entire roll of hookah foil that’s already cut down to the right width! We can thank AO for that!
Tongs are usually included with most hookahs, but they can be pretty small or not that durable in the long run. Picking up a nice pair of hookah tongs that are longer and have a better grip can prevent your hand from getting too close to your coals or accidental coal drops (which sometimes goes hand in hand, pun intended).
Grommets, grommets, grommets! You can never have enough on hand. You’ll get a set with your hookah, but grabbing a few extra bowl and hose grommets is a great idea. They always seem to grow legs and walk away when you’re not looking. Having a spare base grommet on hand is also something to consider. When in a pinch, you can always use the all-mighty “Paper Towel Trick” to get you by.
Where Are You Keeping Your Hookah Stuff?
While some hookahs come with a bag or carrying case like the Sheeshaya Hazard, Smokezilla Soran, and MYA Bambino that you can easily put your hookah components in and toss it into a cupboard, what about your other hookah stuff? You could pick up a Fumari Gallivant bag or you can get more creative.
We’ve seen a lot of different ways over the years on how hookah smokers store their hookah supplies. Part of figuring this out depends on where you’re smoking the most often, how often you’re smoking hookah, and your available space.
For me, most of my hookahs are over 28” and I’m limited on storage space. My hookahs and hoses go into a closet, and all of my shisha, charcoal, bowls, and accessories go into a spare cabinet in my kitchen because it’s near where I’ll be smoking hookah 90% of the time. Here are some other suggestions based on what we’ve seen over the years.
- A dedicated hookah closet: If you have the space, this is a good idea; especially if you have an entire closet available. That hanging bar intended for your clothes? It makes a great place to hang your hoses. Some people have even installed inexpensive shelves for their other accessories when shelves aren’t already available. This is a cool way to keep all of your hookah things in one spot and out of sight.
- Bookcases or stand alone cabinets: If your collection is small or you want to display your hookah things in all of their glory, you may want to consider this a cool DIY project. If you have spare shelves in a bookcase your hookahs can sit out on display, and it’s easy to find decorative enclosed boxes for everything else to not mess up your home aesthetic. Take it one step further with a dedicated stand alone cabinet. You can use one you already have, or get one that fits the size of your hookah collection, and you can also get one with solid doors to keep your hookah stuff out of sight. This method is great to use in a space you’ll be smoking frequently.
- A dedicated hookah kitchen cabinet: You know that one cabinet that doesn’t get used for much, or anything? This idea is solid for just that. If your hookahs are small enough, or break down enough, you could easily get all of your hookah stuff in one place. Using available space in your kitchen in this way makes it easy when preparing a hookah. You’ve got all you need for your setup right next to counter space, a sink, paper towels, and outlets for a burner for your coals.
- A spare room: This sounds odd, but we’ve seen it! Some dedicated hookah enthusiasts will use a spare room for just hookah smoking, and therefore all of their hookah supplies. This could also be a gaming room that’s already set up. I would consider this a way of creating your own in-house hookah lounge that you can do anything with.
The main takeaway here is that having all of your hookah supplies together in one spot is ideal. Make your hookah life easier by not running to the kitchen for your shisha and bowl loading, running upstairs to grab your hookah out of a closet, and then carrying your entire hookah setup outside or to your game room.
KEY POINT: No matter where you are storing your stuff, it is important that your shisha and charcoals are stored in a room temperature setting with low humidity. Shisha storage containers are best for when you have opened shisha. You can also use any sealed container like old tupperware or sealable bags. Hookah charcoal just needs to stay dry and away from collecting moisture in the air for it to light, and stay lit, properly. You can find out more information on shisha and charcoal store on our blog here.
Are You Paying Attention to Your Hookah Inventory?
To ensure all of your hookah sessions are stress free, keep an eye on your hookah inventory when it comes to shisha, charcoal, and grommets. If you’re running low on shisha or coals, and you don’t have a hookah supply near your home, plan accordingly on shipping times when ordering online.
If you’re putting together a party, a get-together, or just a game night, plan accordingly based on what shisha and charcoal you have available. You may have just enough shisha for one bowl but your guests may be expecting a reload, or even a third bowl.
There we have it folks! Everything you need for a basic hookah cabinet. Sure, you always expand! You may want to make the switch from using hookah foil to using a heat management device. If you’re planning on smoking with friends most of the time, having mouth tips for your guest smokers is an easy and affordable accessory to add to your regular inventory rotation.
Let us know in the comments what your basic hookah necessities are and where you store them!