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How To: Set up a Hookah

How To: Set up a Hookah

By smokeorpass / March 26, 2014
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For our visual learners please use this video as your go-to guide for setting up your first hookah session.

Step One: Fill The Base

Hookah base filled with water

Fill the base of the hookah with water. Make sure you don't fill it with too much water. For more detailed instructions, check out our How Much Water Should I Add to My Hookah Base? guide, which leads us to step two.

Step Two: Connect The Hookah Shaft To The Base

Connecting hookah stem with the base

Place the hookah shaft over and into the base, so that the bottom of the shaft is submerged 1-2 inches under the water. Make sure the shaft fits snugly and is airtight. There should usually be a rubber grommet between the glass/crystal base and the metal center piece to make the shaft fit tighter.

Step Three: Apply The Charcoal Tray

Place the circular tray on top of the hookah shaft, this will be used to hold unlit/lit charcoal and excess charcoal ash.

Step Four: Test Your Hookah Bowl Connection

Hookah bowls

Attach the hookah bowl to the top of the metal mid-section. Again, there should be a plastic or rubber grommet between the metal mid-section and the clay bowl. We're going to do this step before any tobacco or charcoal is added to our bowl so you have less to worry about when testing the seal.

Step Five: Attach Your Hookah Hose

Hookah hoses

Place the hose into the metal mid-section (once again with the grommet) making sure the connection is air-tight.

Step Six: Test Your Hookah Airflow

Test that your setup is airtight by placing your hand above of the hookah's bowl and then sucking in through the hose. If everything is okay, you should feel a pull at your hand and see bubbles in the water. If either of these two things don't happen, then in all likelihood, you have air escaping from somewhere. Carefully check to find the source.

Step Seven: Start Lighting Up Your Hookah Charcoal

If you're using natural coals, place them onto your stove and let them heat until they glow red and have a thin layer of gray ash on all sides (see How to Light Natural Coals). If you're using quick lighting coals, go outside and light them using a lighter. Make sure you use tongs to handle the hot charcoal.

Step Eight: Put Together Your Shisha Bowl

If your setup is airtight, then place some shisha tobacco in the bowl, making sure it is level with the rim of the clay bowl. Make sure you sprinkle the tobacco versus packing it in so that the air flow isn't restricted. Don't let the tobacco level reach over the bowl or overflow.

Step Nine: Apply Your Hookah Foil OR HMD (Heat Management Device)

Place your foil over the top of the bowl (use precut foil or cut out a round or square piece of foil about twice the diameter of the bowl), making sure it is flat and air tight. Then take a tooth pick or a sharp object and punch tiny holes all along the top.

Step Ten: Grab Those Hookah Coals & Get Smoking!

Hookah pipes

When the charcoal is lit, place it on the foil atop the hookah bowl (again, using tongs). For a longer smoke, place the charcoal on the edge of the bowl and work it around the outside. The center of the bowl is the last place to be touched by the coals.

Gently pressing down on the charcoal, suck in using the mouthpiece of the hookah hose. You should notice smoke building up inside the base and eventually (after a few strong puffs), you should feel the taste of the tobacco in your mouth. It's important to be patient and let the charcoal heat the tobacco.If you have gotten this far, you are on your way.

If you are having problems getting setup, feel free to contact us. We will definitely be able to help.

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