Hookah bowls are an important part of the hookah smoking experience. The bowl is the part of the hookah that holds the tobacco. These bowls are typically made out of clay, ceramics, or glass. The tobacco is placed inside and then heated with charcoal to combust the flavored molasses that is on and within the tobacco leaves. Once the bowl and tobacco have enough heat to cause this reaction smoke is produced. This smoke is drawn through the hookah stem, through the water in the base and finally through the hose and into the smoker's mouth.
There are many different hookah bowl types available on the market. Although there are very unique bowls out there, the most common you’ll come across when you shop by hookah bowl style include:
- 1. The “standard” bowl: This option is the most common type of hookah bowl and the simplest design. These types of bowls are traditional and are the most common style included with hookahs. They have three to five holes in the bottom of a normal bowl shape.
- 2. The vortex bowl: These bowls start with the same basic shape but have a raised spire in the middle to lift the holes higher as to prevent molasses from leaking into the stem of the hookah.
- 3. The phunnel bowl: Phunnel bowls are the most popular type of hookah bowl today. These are similar to the vortex style but instead of several holes punched into the spire, there is one main hole on the very top. Again, these are used to help prevent molasses from leaking into the hookah itself. There are several variations which may have a larger or smaller hole, cuts into the spire, various widths and depths, lips to hold HMDs, and sometimes dividers to assist in mixing different flavors.
Most hookahs will be packaged with a “standard” style bowl. These bowls have two to five holes in the bottom of a bowl shape. These are great to begin with to familiarize yourself with packing shisha as well as managing the heat with your charcoal. Standard bowls are generally used with foil and hold about 15 to 25 grams of shisha.This is a great starting point for beginners because you will not waste a lot of shisha in your trials starting out and will not have to stress over another element of accessory like a heat management device.
If you are smoking shisha with a lot of molasses you may want to begin with a phunnel bowl. Phunnel bowls are intended to prevent excess molasses from leaking down into the stem of the hookah which may cause harsh smoke. Phunnel bowls can be used with foil as well.
There is no one perfect answer to this question, as there are many different types of bowls available on the market, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. However, there are a few things to consider when you shop for a hookah bowl that can help you make the best decision for your needs.
The first thing to consider is the material that the hookah bowls are made from. Most bowls are made from either clay or silicone, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Clay bowls are porous, which means they can absorb the flavor of shisha tobacco over time. This absorption can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your preferences. Consider it a type of “marinating” flavor into your bowl. Silicone bowls are non-porous, so they do not absorb the flavor of the shisha but they can be easier to clean.
Another thing to consider is the size of the bowl. Some bowls are small enough to be used with a single session of shisha, while others are large enough to be used for multiple sessions. If you're someone who likes to smoke multiple bowls in a single sitting, you'll want to choose a bowl that's large enough to accommodate your needs. Larger bowls are also useful when smoking in groups as the shisha will not be smoked through as quickly.
Finally, you will need to consider the shape of the bowl. There are many different shapes available, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. Consider what types of shisha you are smoking, whether blonde leaf or dark leaf. Also take into account how juicy the shisha is that you prefer to smoke. Blonde leaf tobacco can be used in nearly any bowl while dark leaf shisha tends to perform better with a dense back in a phunnel style bowl. Shishas that have a lot of molasses will do much better in a phunnel or vortex style bowl.
Cleaning a hookah bowl is simple. Use room temperature or warm water and a sponge or cloth to give the bowl a thorough rinse.
Over time, especially if you use one bowl repetitively, a build up of black “char” will collect on the top rim. This is completely normal. A good portion of the heat from the charcoal is transferred at this part of the bowl. Any shisha that may be touching this area will end up as the black “char”. You can simply use a rough bristle pad to help scrub this away.
The answer to this question is based on personal preference as each individual will have their own opinion as to what bowl is “best”. Things to consider when choosing a hookah bowl are what type of shisha do you primarily wish to smoke, will your smoke sessions be mainly short, and are you going to be smoking with friends or family often?
If you usually smoke blonde leaf shisha tobacco, you can use any type of bowl. For dark leaf shisha, you’ll get the most benefit by using a phunnel style bowl. This goes for shisha brands that have a lot of molasses as the phunnel style bowls will keep the excess juices from running into the hookah stem.
For quick smoke sessions and/or solo smoking, a smaller bowl may best suit your needs. If you will be smoking for longer periods of time, or if you will be smoking with friends the majority of the time, a larger bowl should be considered.