Hookah Myth #1: Foil Shiny Side Down
The first time someone taught me how to pack a proper hookah bowl they told me to always make sure to place the hookah foil over the bowl with the shiny side down. I asked why and my instructor just shrugged his shoulders and said "It's supposed to help" with no further explanation offered. Over the years since, I've asked many other smokers about this, and while some offer some basic reasoning about better heat retention, no one was able to convince me this was necessary.
Here at Hookah-Shisha HQ we have tested this over and over and we can report that it makes no consistent and noticeable difference over having the shiny side up. Just make sure your hookah foil is wrapped tight as a drum, poke some holes and smoke away. Don't waste your time figuring out which side is the shiny side.
Hookah Myth #2: Milk In The Base For Bigger Clouds
Another common hookah myth is that by adding milk to your base instead of water, you will get bigger smoke clouds. This is one myth we don't even recommend attempting. From a health standpoint, adding milk to your base is a really bad idea. Milk froths up a lot when air runs through it. The milk will likely get into your hose, into up into your stem, in the heart of the pipe, the purge valve, etc.
Unless you are sterilizing your hookah rig between each session, this milk could cause bacterial growth and if inhaled, could cause nasty respiratory or lung infections. In our, limited, experience with milk in the base, we never got larger clouds, and with the health concerns that come with it, we do not recommend even testing this one out.
Hookah Myth #3: More Juice = More Flavor
The modern hookah smoker is cloud crazy and because of that, more and more modern lines of shisha come to you dripping in juice. This juice is mostly glycerine/honey/molasses which all cause those monster clouds you love so much. The problem is that those juices are also really easy to burn which can ruin the flavor of your shisha smoke. With some of the wetter brands such as Fumari or Fantasia, we often pat the shisha ever so slightly with some dry paper towel before loading our bowl to remove some of that excess juice.
If you are using proper packing and heat management techniques you will still get monster clouds, but the shisha will burn more evenly and with better flavor. Remember, more juice equals more clouds, not necessarily more flavor.
Hookah Myth #4: You Have To Acclimate Tangiers Shisha
Back in the day, smoking Tangiers shisha was a very frustrating experience for many novice smokers. The pros knew to always acclimate their shisha, and exactly how to do so, but the beginner struggled and because of that a lot of people missed out on their amazing flavors. Nowadays the Tangiers batches do not require acclimation as long as you know what you are doing.
When you get your new bag of Tangiers, take a few minutes and use your fingers to massage the shisha in the package. You want to just squish the package around enough so that the juices and shisha properly mingle together. After a few minutes of squishing in the package, open it up and give it a smell. Does it smell just like the flavor on the package? Then you are good to go. If it smells funny, get back to squishing. Acclimation still works, it's just no longer necessary.
Hookah Myth #5: Tall Hookahs Smoke Better Than Short Hookahs
We have covered this myth many times before and if you want a quick tl;dr on this topic, here it is; It's not the height of the hookah that matters, it's the size of the base. There are some inherit benefits to a taller hookah over a smaller one. Taller hookahs tend to have wider stems for better airflow, but a lot of smokers really enjoy a bit of a restricted draw. Smoke also takes a bit longer to travel down the downstem of a tall hookah vs a short one, but again, this makes a very small difference in the smoke quality of your hookah.
Here's what really matters - having a well packed bowl with the proper amount of heat and having a big enough base to hold both a lot of smoke, and a lot of water. The water cools the smoke, making it enjoyable to inhale, and the more smoke your base can handle, the bigger clouds you get. Want to learn more about all of this? Check out our previous blog, including a video of a test we did between tall and short hookahs.