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How to Prepare and Maintain a Hookah Bowl

How to Prepare and Maintain a Hookah Bowl

By christophanes / January 30, 2009

Many ask us for the 'secret' behind a great smoking hookah. As your resident hookah ninjas, we're happy to pass down a hint, one of the most simple things you can do to improve your smoke. This age-old advice has been hidden deep in hookah lore, passed down from generation to generation of neophyte hookah masters, and now - for the first time ever - is available in a handy, convenient blog.

The mysterious suggestion? Simple: keep your eye on the bowl! The setup and tending of the hookah bowl is the most important factor determining how well or how poorly a hookah smokes. Even the highest quality hookah will deliver little or harsh-tasting smoke with an overheated, underheated, or improperly setup bowl. Conversely, a poorly made hookah can still deliver a full smoking experience with quality shisha tobacco, good coal, and an experienced technique.

How To Load A Hookah Bowl - The Basics

In this blog, you'll find basic guidelines for setting up and attending a bowl for a classic, cloud-pulling smoking session.


Your average hookah bowl is designed to hold around 20g to 25g of shisha tobacco. This is equivalent to roughly 1/2 a 50g box, or 2 to 3 tablespoons of tobacco (for the "culineratti" out there).

You'll want to break up the tobacco, so that there aren't many large clumps. Broken-up shisha will heat more evenly as the hot air will pass through it, because more of surface area of the tobacco leaves is exposed to the heat. Maintaining an even heat level through the shisha in the bowl is the key to a great-smoke.

The level of shisha in the bowl should fall just below the rim. Ideally, there will be a small space between the foil and the tobacco, although don't worry if smoked shreds of tobacco stick to the foil - this is very normal and will happen on almost every bowl you smoke.

After the bowl is loaded with tobacco, decide on what heat management device you want to work with and smoke. The heat management department offers several options but here at the office we tend to use the Kaloud Lotus or Hookah foil.

When using foil, the size and number of holes in the surface will control the amount of heat and hot air that transfers into the tobacco. Most of the heat management devices will usually contain vents, you can have these airways open or closed to control the heat output during a session. Generally, you'll want the heat and airflow dispersed as uniformly as possible through the bowl and across its surface.

Poking Holes In Your Hookah Foil

By poking as many of the smallest holes possible in the foil, the hot air is diffused throughout the tobacco more gently; when larger holes are used, punch fewer of them with more space between each hole. Larger, fewer holes allow more concentrated hot air into the bowl for a greater overall temperature.

Some tobaccos, such as dense, sticky tobaccos, may perform better at a higher temperature than a wetter, more leafy tobacco cut. Discovering the ideal heat for each brand can take some time. We advise beginning with less heat and adding more as needed - it is easier to add heat to a cool bowl then cool down and rejuvenate a burned one.

We're not done yet! Stay tuned for the next topic - managing bowl heat and hookah coal rotation.


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