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Romancing the Smoke: Bowl me over!

Romancing the Smoke: Bowl me over!

By Katie / July 11, 2012
If you’re just tuning in to Romancing The Smoke, this is a blog following my journey to becoming a hookah know-it-all. If you’re also a beginner, or a pro who wants to offer some advice, then I hope you’ll follow along!

Bowls, bowls, everywhere but which one should I pack? As a noob, I didn't think that the type of bowl even mattered. But I dare you to take a small Mya ceramic bowl to a Tangiers session with some pros - you will be booed out of the room. In order to save us both from public ostracization, let's take a look at a few different bowls, and how to pack them. This is a more in-depth guide to all of our bowl options.

Traditional Ceramic Bowl

This is the bowl that I got with my first hookah, and it is totally fine. I'm easing into different types of shisha, so it works just dandy with the Romman I've been smoking. For detailed bowl packing instructions check out this blog. The downside of these bowls is that the juices from the shisha can leak out through the bottom holes, and ooze down the top of your stem. Not only does this leave a bit of a mess, but you lose some of the flavor.

Phunnel Bowl

Phunnel Hookah Bowl This was the next generation up from the traditional ceramic bowl. In order to help house some of those juices, the designer put a hollow spire in the middle of the bowl, allowing the shisha to be nestled in a little bed around just one, large hole. This is the bowl that the hardcore Tangiers lovers prefer. When packing it - load the shisha to the lip of the internal spire toward the middle and pack the outer ring of shisha towards the outer lip. With the Phunnel Bowl, the shisha needs to be packed tighter than normal. It seems to work more efficiently. Tightly affix foil over top of bowl. While holding foil in place, poke at least 50 tiny pin-sized holes in top of foil but steering clear of the center. The holes should be in a donut formation – you can put your thumb on the middle spire while poking the holes. It is extremely important that you hold the foil taut when poking the holes for the Phunnel bowl – if the foil collapses, it will not work. The biggest issue that any have had with this design is that if the center hole is blocked - by shisha or the foil - then the lack of air flow will really mess up your session.

Vortex Bowl

Vortex is a Phunnel love-child, and it knows what it's doing. (EDIT: as far as I know, the Phunnel came before the Vortex, but there is some speculation as to which came first. It's a chicken or the egg scenario - doesn't matter all that much!) Vortex mimicked the center spire, but instead of having one large hole at the top, it has four equally spaced holes around the spire itself. This eliminates the issue of the foil blocking the only air passage, and minimizes the likelihood of the shisha clogging the hole. Vortex users swear that their sessions last longer and are more flavorful. I've heard that using 3 coals for the Vortex and Phunnel is ideal. You must be very diligent about rotating the coals, though, as the higher heat can burn the shisha quickly if left to sit too long. The biggest complaint that I've heard about the Vortex bowls is that the middle spire breaks off fairly easily. You have to be really careful when cleaning it and clearing out the holes so as to not pop off the middle part.
New to hookah? Not sure how to load a bowl? Let us help you!
Hopefully this helps to answer some questions. If you have anymore wonderings, or if you want to share your knowledge, feel free to leave a comment below! Until next time, happy smoking! -Katie
To see tutorial videos on this subject, and others, check out our How-To Playlist on YouTube!

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