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We didn't start the fire! After the shisha burns...

We didn't start the fire! After the shisha burns...

By Christophanes / April 6, 2009

Burning Hookah Bowl

It happens to the best (and worst) of us. First the ashy taste, then the prickly heat in the back of your throat and acrid smoke; don't worry, it's just a burned hookah bowl. Since humans began smoking hookahs, they've burned bowls. Do you really think the first person to drive reeds or bamboo into a coconut loaded a perfectly smoking first bowl? Burned bowls are as much a part of your lifetime hookah experience as water lines in the base and worn-down grommets. Fortunately, there are several things you can try that may help revive a lightly to moderately toasted bowl. Naturally, if a burning bowl is caused by too much heat, an immediately apparent solution is to cool the bowl, most easily done by removing the heat (the charcoal) for a few minutes. Simply knocking the burning coal from the top of the bowl to the tray and letting the hookah rest for a few minutes might allow it to recuperate from the heat. When you place the coal back on, try placing it on a new part of the bowl, or opposite where the coal was when you knocked it off. You may even find that resting the bowl after the first round of coal will help you coax several more hits than usual out of it. This trick, borrowed from old hookah lounged in the Middle East, should be executed with caution. If you're well into a session and the bowl burns, the tobacco and bowl itself will be extremely hot. Knock the coal off of the bowl, and leave it either in the tray or - even better - a charcoal holder away from the hookah if possible. Using either an oven mitt, and old towel, or numerous paper towels you've folded until they're quite thick, grip the bowl around the neck and gently twist it off of the hookah. Holding it above you, slowly blow a stream of air up the neck of the bowl, out through the foil or screen at the top. On very burnt bowls, you'll see smoke leaving the bowl as you blow. Continue to blow softly until no more smoke exits the bowl, and return it securely to the top of the hookah. Place a fresh coal on the bowl and voila - you may have saved your session! Don't forget the release valve, if your hookah has one. Stale or burned smoke can be cleared from the hookah periodically by blowing through the hose. Sometimes, simply clearing the smoke will help if the bowl tastes like it might be burning. In any event, once you're pulling smoke out of the hookah, feel free to move the coal about as often as you see fit!

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