Hookah Terms: The Ultimate Hookah Glossary
The hookah glossary has been updated as of March 23rd, 2022
Base - One of the main parts of a hookah. It is responsible for holding the water that shisha smoke is pulled through and can be made of glass, acrylic, or ceramic in some rare cases.
Blonde leaf shisha - A type of shisha tobacco that is characterized by its golden-brown color and low nicotine content. It is the most common type of shisha smoked today.
Bowl - A ceramic, glass, silicone, clay, or metal dish that is used to hold and smoke shisha flavor. It is one of the main parts required for a complete hookah setup. It is sometimes referred to as a “head.”
Buzz - The feeling caused by consuming nicotine. It is often characterized by slight dizziness or a lightheaded feeling.
Chamber - The internal section of a hookah hub that leads to the hose port and that shisha smoke travels through when inhaled through a hose. Most hookahs feature either a dedicated chamber or a common chamber.
Clouds - A common slang term for shisha smoke
Coconut charcoal - Hookah coals that are made from compressed coconut husks.
Common chamber - A type of hookah chamber that is characterized by being completely open with all hose ports and purge valves connecting to one large internal cavity in the hub. Many multi-hose hookahs feature this type of chamber.
Dark-leaf shisha - A type of shisha tobacco that is characterized by its dark-brown, almost black color and its high nicotine content.
Dedicated chamber - A type of hookah chamber that features dedicated air pathways to each hose port and purge valve. You can find this type of chamber on many traditional Egyptian hookahs like Khalil Mamoons.
Dense pack - A hookah preparation technique most commonly used for dark leaf tobacco in which the shisha is firmly pushed down into a bowl and packed tightly. It is the opposite of a “fluff pack”; see: fluff pack
Diffuser - An accessory filled with several small holes that sits at the bottom of a hookah’s down stem and stays submerged in water. The small holes break up the smoke into smaller bubbles as it travels through the water and results in a quieter, slightly smoother draw.
Dokha tobacco - A type of pipe tobacco that was originally popularized in the Middle East and features an extremely high level of nicotine. It is traditionally smoked out of a “medwakh” pipe, however, it has been infused into some shisha brands like Nirvana.
Down stem - A long, internal tube that runs from the top of a hookah stem down to the very bottom. It is most commonly used to refer to the section of tube that extends down into the hookah base and is submerged in water.
Draw - A term to describe how it feels to inhale from a hookah or hose. This is most commonly described as “open” or “restricted,” and can be affected by a variety of factors including choice of bowl, water level, hose, and more.
Egyptian hookah bowl - A traditional style of bowl that is characterized by having several small holes in the bottom of the dish. Egyptian bowls can be made from a variety of different materials but are most commonly made from clay, and come included with Egyptian-made hookahs such as Khalil Mamoon.
Fluff pack - A shisha preparation technique in which the shisha is gently packed into a bowl without being pressed down too firmly. The shisha should feel “sponge-ey” to the touch It is the opposite of a “dense pack”; see: dense pack
Freeze hose - A style of hookah hose that features an ice tip or ice capsules in the handle. These ice attachments can be placed in the freezer and are used to further cool shisha smoke as it travels through the freeze hose.
Gauge - The width or size of the opening of a hookah down stem, bowl, or hose that can affect the draw when smoking. For example, Amira and BYO hookahs feature a “wide gauge” down stem that offers minimal restriction when inhaling.
Harsh - A term used to describe the feeling of inhaling burnt shisha smoke.
Heat management device - A hookah accessory that acts as a replacement for aluminum foil and delivers more even heat transfer to the shisha. They also act as a protective wind cover for coals and provide a cleaner, better-tasting flavor than traditional foil.
Heel tip - The small tip at one end of a hookah hose that is plugged into a hookah’s hose port.
Herbal shisha - A type of shisha made using tobacco alternatives such as sugar cane or fruit. It is completely free of both tobacco and nicotine.
Honey - A sweet, syrupy substance created by bees that is a common ingredient in shisha
Hookah charcoal - Specially formulated charcoal that is designed to burn at a temperature that will not combust shisha flavor. It serves as the sole heat source when smoking hookah. See natural charcoal or quick-light charcoal.
Hose - One of the main parts of a hookah setup that is characterized by a handle, heel tip, and flexible tubing. It connects to a hose port and, when inhaled on, transports smoke from the hookah to the user’s mouth and lungs.
Hose handle - The part of a hookah hose that is held and inhaled upon by the user. It is commonly the second largest section of the hose, however, this may vary.
Hose port - A part designed to connect a hose to a hookah. It is most commonly attached directly to a hookah's hub through either welding or threading. In some cases, additional hose ports can be added to a hookah through the use of hose adapters.
Hose spring - A spring included with some types of hookah hoses that is placed around the outside of the hose tubing and sits right above the heel tip. It acts as a support mechanism to prevent the hose tubing from “pinching” or restricting airflow.
Hose tubing - A long, flexible tube that connects the hose handle and heel tip. They are made from a variety of materials such as silicone, plastic, and synthetic leather.
Hub - The “heart” or midsection of a hookah stem that commonly houses the internal chamber, hose port, and purge valve.
Inside fitting - A term to describe when certain accessories, like mouth tips, bowls, or hoses, fit on a hookah by being inserted “inside” a port or hose. For example, “inside fitting” mouth tips are inserted inside a hose handle.
Molasses - A rich form of refined sugar that is used as an ingredient for shisha flavors
Mouth tip - The very end of a hookah hose handle where the user places their mouth when inhaling. It also refers to a hose accessory that attaches to the very end of the handle and is commonly used to avoid putting your mouth directly on the hose when sharing among multiple people.
Narguile - An Arabic term for hookah
Natural charcoal - A type of hookah charcoal that does not contain any type of chemical accelerants used to speed up the lighting process. They deliver better-tasting flavor than their quick lighting counterparts and are preferred by most hookah experts, despite requiring a charcoal burner to light.
Outside fitting - A term to describe when certain accessories, like mouth tips, bowls, or hoses, go around the outside of a port or handle when attached. For example, “outside fitting” mouth tips are placed over and around the outside of a hose handle, rather than being inserted inside.
Phunnel bowl - A type of hookah bowl that is characterized as having a raised center spire with one large hole at the top. This design prevents the shisha flavoring from escaping the bowl and results in stronger flavor and longer-lasting smoke sessions.
Purge valve - A valve containing a ball bearing that is built into the hub of most hookahs and allows for harsh or stale smoke to be cleared from the chamber by exhaling directly into the hookah hose. Also referred to as a check valve.
Quick-light charcoal - A type of hookah charcoal coated with a chemical accelerant that can be started using a standard flame lighter.
Semi-dense pack - A hookah preparation technique in which shisha is pushed down into a hookah bowl but is still left relatively fluffy. It is in-between a fluff pack and dense pack; see: fluff pack, dense pack
Shisha - A type of flavored tobacco that is designed to be smoked from a hookah and typically consists of tobacco leaves, honey or molasses, glycerin, and flavoring. Tobacco-free, herbal shisha alternatives are also available.
Stabilizer ring - A plate or ring that supports the hookah tray and keeps it stable
Stem/shaft - The main body of a hookah that each accessory attaches to. They are made from a variety of materials such as metal, silicone, or acrylic and are considered one of the main parts of a complete hookah setup.
Super pack - A custom Hookah-Shisha bundle that allows you to easily buy shisha in bulk by selecting three or four 250g flavors at a time at a discounted price.
Threading - A type of hookah connection mechanism that resembles a screw and allows pieces to be removed or attached through twisting motion.
Unwashed tobacco - A type of tobacco that has not been washed in the production process. This results in a shisha that is more robust and provides a stronger nicotine buzz.
Vortex bowl - A type of hookah bowl that is characterized as having a raised center spire with several small holes in the side. This design prevents the shisha flavoring from escaping the bowl and results in stronger flavor and longer-lasting smoke sessions.
Washed tobacco - A type of tobacco that is rinsed in the production process to remove nicotine. This results in a shisha that provides a very mild nicotine buzz.
Water level - The amount of water poured into a hookah base and the level at which it sits
Wind cover - A protective metal cover that is placed over a hookah bowl and shields the charcoal from wind or excess airflow. They can be used to prolong the burn time and increase the heat output of hookah charcoal.