This blog was updated on 02/06/2019
What Causes Big Hookah Clouds?
In this blog post we are going to share some science and some tips for getting the biggest clouds when you smoke hookah.
We're going to break this down in a few sections. First we'll take a look at what shisha ingredients cause clouds. Next we will look at proper bowl packing techniques, then heat management, and finally the water level in your base.
Follow all of these tips and with a bit of practice your clouds will be massive.
What is Glycerin?
The reason why you get big clouds when you smoke hookah is all thanks to our little buddy, glycerin. Glycerin is one of the main ingredients in shisha (next to tobacco, molasses, and flavoring), and it creates dense vapor when heated. It is a chemical compound similar to alcohol, and it is used in every day products like preserving fruit, as a base for lotions, in cake and candy making, and many more.
This chemical compound draws moisture out of the air, helping to keep your shisha moist, and helping you blow some big smoke clouds! The more glycerin in your shisha, the bigger the clouds. However, you want to make sure to get the correct balance because glycerin can detract from the flavoring - so don't go overboard if you're experimenting with shisha making!
How To Pack Shisha For Huge Clouds
Different shisha brands will have different packing requirements so if you have a new brand be sure to check our product pages for some basic guidelines before starting. We'll cover some basic shisha tobacco preparation techniques below.
The Fluff Pack
This is the most common shisha packing technique and works great with most modern shisha brands such as Starbuzz, Fantasia, Fumari, and Social Smoke. We use this style of pack when we test new brands and adjust to our desired smoke preference. This is also a great way to enjoy Al Fakher shisha flavors.
Using the Fluff method will require you to fill your bowl up to the rim line but letting your shisha fall into the bowl with a sprinkle pattern. The fluffy look to your shisha will allow heat to pass through easily to deliver nice clouds quickly.
The Dense Pack
The dense pack is your best bet when you are smoking Tangiers shisha, and it can be used for Starbuzz Vintage or Trifecta Dark Tobacco. If this is your first time attempting this method you might not believe that this bowl will smoke right with the amount of pressure that your apply to the tobacco, but give it a go and enjoy.
A dense preperation can be achieved with a Shisha Fork or your super handy hands. You should have a phunnel style bowl ready because the pressure applied to your tobacco would block your air channels in any bowl that contains holes on the underside like an Egyptian bowl.
The Over Pack
The overpack is perfect for brands that like a ton of heat. The most common brand which we recommend the over pack for is Haze. Check out our Haze Bowl Packing Guide for tips and a video from the founder of Haze on how he likes to pack his bowls.
Allow For Proper Air-Flow
All of the packing expertise in the world will get you nowhere if there is no airflow in your bowl. The hot air from your coals must be allowed to mingle with your whole bowl if it's going to smoke well for a long time. We recommend that once your bowl is packed, and before the foil is applied, that you take a toothpick or a foil poker and poke a bunch of holes into your shisha to allow for better airflow. This is especially important if you are using a Kaloud Lotus.
Best Hookah Bowls For Huge Clouds
If huge shisha clouds are your goal, you'll want to make sure you have the proper bowl. An Egyptian bowl will work fine for a lot of brands, but if you really want the best clouds, we recommend a Phunnel style bowl or a Vortex bowl. A couple of our favorite Phunnel bowls are the Alpaca Apache and Rook hookah bowl.
Best Hookah Bowl For Use With The Kaloud Lotus
If a Kaloud Lotus is part of your daily setup then we highly recommend adding a Kaloud Samsaris bowl to your arsenal. This bowl is easy to load, only takes two coals, and works perfectly with the Lotus. The key to loading this bowl would be to load into the fan blades, never load on top of the blades without filling them first.
Patting Your Shisha Dry
One other thing you can experiment with is patting your shisha a bit with paper towels before loading it to remove some of the excess juice. This is not 100% required but it can lead to a smoother bowl as heavy amounts of juice in the bowl can cause your shisha to heat up improperly. Don't dry it out too much, just a quick pat to remove excess.
Hookah Heat Management For Huge Clouds
Not all coals are created equal and some coals will offer better performance than others. Heat is essential to a great smoking bowl so follow these tips below to get the biggest clouds during your next hookah session.
Best Natural Coals For Tangiers Shisha
Tangiers shisha likes a coal with a medium range of heat. Too much heat and you will scorch the shisha and ruin a good session. We recommend using Titanium Coconut Coals when smoking Tangiers. Their heat output is perfect for a great Tangiers session.
Use Cube Coals For Bigger Clouds
Lots of hookah enthusiasts and hookah cloud chasers have made the switch to cube coals lately as they offer longer sessions and more heat when smoking. If you are using foil, we recommend trying out two cube coals at a time. If you want to really go for some huge clouds, try using 3 at a time, but be sure to add a little extra shisha to the bowl to prevent scorching if you do so.
Using Cube Coals With A Kaloud Lotus
2 cube coals should fit in a Kaloud Lotus with the cover on and will create some monster smoke clouds. If you are really chasing those big clouds, try adding a 3rd coal. You won't be able to get the lid on at first, but as the coals burn down you can add the lid back on. With three coals you can get huge clouds for 1.5-2 hrs regularly.
Always Use a Diffuser With Your Kaloud Lotus
Lots of folks use hookah diffusers when smoking to quiet their hookah down and improve smoke quality, but did you know that using a Heba diffuser will make your Kaloud Lotus work better too? It's true!
The key to proper Lotus use is to keep your coals towards the outside of the bowl near the vents. If you smoke without a diffuser, as the coals burn down, the rumbling of your hookah will force the coals towards the center of the lotus and away from the vents. By smoking with a diffuser, your coals will stay in place and your Kaloud Lotus will work more efficiently.