Hookahs Hookahs

Comparing hookah foil and hookah bowl screens: different smokes for different folks.

Like the Butter Battle of Dr. Seussian lore, the dispute over screens and foil for one's bowl gives no indication of decisive conclusion.  Fans of foil are as deeply entrenched as supporters of screens on the means to separate ones shisha from one's coal.  In this Better Bowl blog, we'll examine the more specific details of foil usage and screen usage, so you can make a better informed decision on how you smoke your hookah.

Hookah Bowl Screens - Reusable and sturdy, screens feature holes of a set number and width.  While their standardization and construction makes screens more handy and reliable - you'll never run out or tear one - these limit the ability to adjust the heat flow by varying the hole size and spacing.  Larger holes should always have more space between them than smaller ones, and will permit more hot air through in more concentrated areas than smaller holes.  This can mean, in some situations, more heat into the bowl: ideal for especially "sticky" tobaccos, though you may want to pay closer attention tending the coals if using a screen with shishas that respond better to more gentle heat.  While a screen will become discolored with use, it will continue to operate without impairment.  Even if you prefer foil, it isn't a bad idea to keep a screen in your hookah kit as a backup and never have your session 'foiled' again!
Hookah Foil - For the expert bowl pilot who likes ultimate control over heat management, foil presents the ability to permit more or less heat through than a screen.  By creating numerous small holes instead of fewer large ones, the heat will dissipate more evenly over the top of the bowl, and the tobacco will heat more gently.  Unlike hookah foil, kitchen-grade foil commonly has chemical non-stick coatings and a percentage of nickel (a metal that breaks down at lower temperature than aluminum).  Additionally, as the extra foil hanging off of the bowl will seal nicely against the underside, you'll have a more air-tight seal around the edge of the bowl than screens, which may leave tiny gaps between the metal of the screen and the edge of the bowl.

Comments (15) -

  • Regarding the fact that "kitchen-grade foil commonly has chemical non-stick coatings and a percentage of nickel (a metal that breaks down at lower temperature than aluminum)", does anyone have any scientific knowledge about why using such foil for hookah would actually be harmful to health?
  • Hello, I'm writting from Spain to tell you my own solution, realy it's something hybrid... I have a screen with the "handles" bended to match my bowl and I put a foil on top, so I can make smaller holes and i have a stronger suport for the charcoal to have an efective separation between tobaco and charcoal. Please excuse my English wich is not very good. Try it, its a good solution.
  • I have heard (not sure how true) that if you smoke with that kind of foil (chemicals and nickle) you greatly increase your chances for getting Altimers disease.  Please excuse the spelling.
  • It is not hard to use spell check.
  • good evening hookah fans,

    I personally have always been using foil and havent had any health issues yet (even though im asthmatic) Smile
    It just smokes a lot better then the screens do, so I preferre it... If i were to watch for my health I wouldnt be a smoker in the first place now would I? Besides, every time I used the screen it got harsh a lot quicker which cant be good for you either.

    Although it makes me think, unless you use new screens every time which would up the cost a little bit, you would build up residue on the screen fairly quickly, which increases the poisons you  put in you as well which you dont have when you use new foils every time right?
  • I've only been smoking a hookah for about 2 years now and started with the screen as provided by Hookah-Shisha Central.  I had tried foil before, but never found much of a difference.  When I bought my Leila last year, it came with a package of foil.  Since the bowl is much smaller and the screen wouldn't fit, I started using the foil.  After much trial and error, I've switched over to only using foil and still play around with hole size and location.  If you're a newbie, the screen are nice and convenient.  However, I would recommend trying the foil.  It offers much better control and has GREATLY increased our smoking experience.
  • So the first hookah I bought was the 3 hose mya vortex.  It came with a normal bowl and a screen.  I never once had a problem with a screen, and people who I smoked with, were surprised that a screen can do that well with hookah.  Foil for the most part is just a pain to deal with.  Its easy to just throw on a screen.

    I ran into problems when I purchaced a funnel bowl.  I have yet to figure out a way to use a screen with it.  If any screen lovers have an idea hit me up.  Laughing

    Im trying to figure out a way to use a screen for my Mya Leila but have yet to find one made for it.  I might just make one and let you guys know how it works out.
  • Has anyone tried using a screen made with mesh? I bet that would work really well. And research has supported that there is no direct link between aluminum and Alzheimers Disease.
  • I use nothing but glass screens when I smoke. I will never use foil. I'd kill for this site to start offering them. I'm only able to find a local place that makes them by hand.
  • I'm with brian.  This debate about foil vs. screen is a waste of time and energy.  A glass screen is the best way to go, end of discussion.  The only drawback is that they break, and you need to clean them after use so they dont get dirty.  
    And if you have a funnel bowl, you need a mod to cover the hole(s) at the top.  that should help.
  • I like the idea of a glass screen, I never heard of them before!

    I found that an amazing way to go about it is to use both the screen and then the foil over it.

    It allows for a fine space between the shiesha and coal so you NEVER have burning. Also, you have all the abilities to control the heat and air distribution by poking the holes (size, amount, location) by personal preference.

    However, I wish I knew how to tell which foil brands contain which elements and additives.
  • I'm fairly new at this but I love the foil.  I tried teh screen with so-so results; I get a much better smoke with foil.

    I'm with Chris though, I would like to know if there are chemicals in foil that I should be wary of.  I switched to the foil from this site hoping that since it is marketed for hookah smoking it may not have any additives that I would find in house hold foil.
  • I have to say that if the question is a matter of health, then look into it.  Fantastic web site to look into is the Alzheimer's society, believe it or not they discuss aluminum at length, http://alzheimers.org.uk/factsheet/406
    but if your deciding on preference of smoking pleasure, I'd say aluminum is the most convenient and adds a sort of ritual to the preparation, making the experience more hobby than habit hahaha.
  • Hey guys, I've been smoking hookah for quite some time now and have always used foil. I personally always put a layer down in the bowl then poke holes into the inlet holes at he bottom then add my shisha cover with pre-punched foil that I've set aside and roll. never fails I really don't see what all the fuss is about.