|Everyone has that friend that can blow massive hookah smoke rings and makes it look easy, and I know some of you have tried with unimpressive results. In this post I hope to give you a quick science lesson and provide proper hookah smoke ring instructions so you can puff like the pros!
First, let’s talk science. What exactly is going on when hookah smoke rings form? Smoke rings are an atomic dance. The air we breathe is, to put it simply, an invisible floating "soup" of atoms, with nitrogen and oxygen composing about 99% of the soup. Hookah Smoke is composed of atoms as well (particulate matter), mostly water vapor and other uncombusted hydrocarbons. When hookah smoke molecules are propelled through the soup in a circular shape, they interact with the air molecules, creating a vortex in which the outer molecules of the smoke ring are dragged backwards while the inner molecules are dragged forwards. This concept is demonstrated visually in the below animation. The black dots represent air molecules and the red dots represent smoke molecules.
So how do you make the perfect hookah smoke ring? The first and most crucial step is to perfect your “o” face. You have to shape your lips into the closest you can possibly come to a perfect circle. Yes, this takes practice and yes, you will look silly doing it. I recommend using a mirror. There are several ways to achieve this, and every expert “smoke ringer” has their own method. Some purse their lips forward making a “duck face,” and some open their jaw up wide with their lips covering their teeth. You can experiment with different methods, but just remember that the inner rim of your lips must be circular.
Now comes the tricky part, and that’s getting the “bursts” of air through your lips. There are various means for doing this, so based on an informal survey of our staff here are the 3 most popular methods:
1. The “Zoolander Cough”: You’re not going to need your tongue for this, so get it out of the way by pressing it to the bottom of your mouth. You’ll want to take a deep drag off of your hookah hose, then open your throat and try to make your mouth as cavernous as possible. Slowly (and I mean slowly) exhale until just your mouth is filled with dense smoke. Next, you’ll want to stop continuously exhaling, make your “o” face, then produce the tiniest utterance with your throat - almost as if you’re whispering the shortest monosyllabic word possible (“a”, “oh”, “eh”). You’ll want to maintain a sort of exhalation equilibrium: just the right sized “burst” of air. Too much air will cause the ring to collapse; not enough air will produce a non-ring. This is the hardest method, and this takes a lot of practice.
2. The "Pop and Lock": This method is more muscle control than breath control. Follow the same steps as above until your mouth is as cavernous as possible and filled with dense smoke. Make your “o” face and then pop your jaw forward while simultaneously using your tongue as a springboard, mechanically producing a short burst of air. This is a little easier than the first method, however each successive ring will be less dense than the previous due to a dwindling supply of smoke in your mouth. Again, this takes some practice to perfect.
3. The “Tap”: This is the easiest method and won’t produce any record-breaking rings, but if you do it correctly you can make a succession of small smoke rings that look really neat. Simply fill your mouth with smoke, make your “o” face, and tap your cheek with your index finger while pushing air out of your mouth with your jaw (don’t exhale).
So do you think you're a pro at blowing hookah smoke rings? Earlier this week we asked our Facebook fans to post their best hookah smoke rings in one of our photography contests, and I'm proud to present the winners. These guys are talented!
1st Place - Jon M.
2nd Place - Hieu T.
3rd Place - Marley M.
Honorable Mention: Lucas S.
How do you make the perfect smoke ring? Please leave us your tips and suggestions in the comments. Thanks, and Happy smoking!