Hookahs Hookahs

Romancing the Smoke: You Did WHAT?!

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!
Think back to a more innocent time. A time before the wonderful world of billowing smoke clouds, sweet smelling shisha, and Egyptian-made, glass bases. Now, think back to the glorious first time you smoked a hookah - when you overloaded the bowl, burned the crap out of your carpet, chose the worst tasting tobacco, and finished it all off by thoroughly washing out that non-washable hose. Ah, memories.
There’s been a lot of talk around here about what TO do with a hookah, but I wanted to know about the most common mistakes. I scoured the forums, asked around on Twitter, and I came up with a list of the top five newbie errors. There were a few that didn't make the official list, but definitely deserve a Darwin Award in their own right. The most deserving honorable mention goes to one gentleman who decided to give his base grommet a little extra lubricant to ensure a good seal. So, naturally, he grabbed hand lotion, buttered up the grommet, and slid it right into home base. Well, it worked. Until the lotion caused the grommet to rot, and left a lovely sludge around the base. Dear sir: lotion has many purposes, many of them are unexpected, but this is not one of them. Too much time watching Skinemax.
On to the list!
5. Sheesh, Shisha!
- Over packing bowls - Using cigarette tobacco instead of shisha - Forgetting to poke holes in the foil
4. Dude. Where's the water?
- Forgetting to put water in the base was surprisingly common - Over/Under filling the base
3. Coal Play
- Trying to catch falling coals with your bare hands - Not letting quick light coals turn ashy before placing them on the bowl. Mmmmmm, the sweet taste of accelerant. - Trying to light natural coals with a disposable lighter - Placing coals directly on to the shisha without the foil barrier
2. What's with your carpet?
- New user, or old, everyone seems to have issues keeping their coals from meeting their carpet
1. Purge-atory
And the winner of the most common mistake that occurs when hookahing: not realizing that the ball bearing is stuck in the purge valve. It's time to push out that stale smoke, so you give a blow through the hose...but nothing happens. So you blow a little harder, and a little harder until KA*POW! Well, you purged it. But instead of exiting out the purge valve, the water, air, and smoke shot through the top of the hookah. Now you're looking at a tragic scene akin to a battlefield - hot coals are flying through the air, landing willy-nilly, igniting the Burger King wrappers that litter your floor. The bowl of shisha is soaked and ruined. Maybe in the shock of it all, you've tipped the whole hookah right into your friend's lap where that last coal landed right in their pocket but luckily their lap was dowsed with used hookah water.Party. Foul.
Let's learn from our fellow brethren and not let history repeat itself. Especially that lotion guy. Seriously.
Until next time, happy smoking! -Katie
To see tutorial videos on this subject, and others, check out our How-To Playlist on YouTube!

Comments (14) -

  • One mistake I have made with my Myas is forgetting to screw on the downstem. Assemble it all, put on coals and start inhaling, wondering why it is so harsh and there is no bubbling sounds. Frown
  • One thing that you're never supposed to do from an etiquette standpoint is to light a cigarette off of a hookah coal.  In certain cultures, this is SERIOUSLY tacky stuff, so heads up!
    • That is actually really good advice, I would never have known that! I'm going to write an etiquette blog soon, and I'll be sure to add that to the list. Thanks, Matt!
  • My most common mistake is not getting the seals tight.  I'll pack a fresh hookah, start pulling, and pulling and pulling, then tighten her up and get a hacking lungful of stale smoke.  

    The biggest hookah-foul I've heard of was from my sisters friends.  They smoked using charcoal from their grill and almost died. Didn't help that they loaded it with whacky-tobacky either... They're both fine now and have a good laugh about it, but damn...
  • just started smoking about 2 months back and so far havent made any of these mistakes smells like common knowledge to me but i also read abit on how to set up right
    • You were smart to read up on the details before you started. It seems like most people just get so excited that they forget to do a little researchSmile
  • I've been smoking for about two years and when I first moved out to Australia I went out and bought a hookah and all the gear and some (not very good) molasses.

    Finally got it home after an hour on the bus out to Indo (about 25mins walk from any shops) and realised I had no foil!!

    Gutted, but resourceful when in need of a smoke, I punctured some holes in a baked bean tin lid and used that haha. Suffice to say it was a terrible idea.

    Awful thin weak clouds and no flavour (cheap tobacco) probably all kinds of terrible baked bean tin chemicals, plus I cut my hands to bits on the edges of the lid haha.

    • Haha, this definitely made me laugh! The tin can lid seemed like it totally had potential to work! I bet you'll never forget the foil now, thoughSmile
  • Been smoking since 2006 off and on, got my own set up in 2010. And I've become innovated to say that the "TIN CAN" idea can work. Why you ask? Because I have gotten tired of using foil one day while having a hookah session during a BBQ with some friends of mine. We ran outa foil cause we were Bar-b-queing. More friends came and wanted to smoke, the bowl we had was near done. So what did we have to save the day? empty soda cans. Yup that's right, grabbed a couple empty soda cans, measured the bottom, grabbed my Dremal, cut the bottom off, switched to the drill bit (used the smallest)made a bunch of tiny holes through the bottom of the can. Sanded it off so you couldn't get cut. Did a final clean, packed a bowl, used the can top instead of foil. Success!! The thing also is the can is Concave so you had to pack just the right amount of shisha otherwise the top would teater-toter. And I use a 2ft round wooden table to set my hookah on top of, thus saving my carpet. Only had one fail when i chose to move the hookah with two hot coals from the table to another part of my room.
    • Wow, that is definitely innovative! However, a coworker of mine sent me the following link, talking about the dangers of using aluminum cans in this way. BPA - ruining our good time! www.reddit.com/.../
  • Ahh mad, great link Katie. Pretty scary stuff like. I didn't feel crook after using the tin lid but I reckon if I'd used it more than once I could have done some serious damage. Lets hope more people see this page before they try the tin lid of death too hey!!
  • No Horse Play around the hookah! come on guys, this should be common sense... lol
  • Worst hookah foul I've had: we were smoking in my living room with the hookah on my coffee table. My friend was sitting by the fire place and the hose was just quite not long enough to reach her. She pulled on it, the hookah toppled over, and the coal fell of and went right into my brothers shoe. We were looking for the coal for a minute or two before we saw smoke coming out of the shoe. It burned a hole through the insole, which sucked because it was his work shoe.
  • I have only drop a coal on carpet once. Sadly it was in my truck. Over packed bowls and over filled bases were always something I did simply because nobody ever told me how to do it properly. Same with the quick lighting coals. Had no clue just always wondered why I got a quick headache when i started smoking. Hell for a year I didn't even know what natural coals were.