There are many different opinions as to the ideal way to set up your hookah, so the best thing to do is to follow the basic guidelines and then experiment on your own to find what suits you and your friends the best. It is important to remember that there are many variables, such as the type and size of your hookah, what type of shisha or mu’assel flavour you are smoking right down to the type of coals you prefer.
Here are the basic steps:
- Fill the bottom vase with water so that the water level sits 1-2 inches above the tube that goes down into it. Later on you can also experiment by adding ice or cooler water to the vase instead as this will produce a cooler and thicker smoke.
- Assemble the hookah stem onto the base by pressing down and ensuring the gaskets (rubber seals) are on so they are air tight. You can also place the ashtray/coal tray on the top of the stem. This is used for holding the tongs, extra coals, and for catching any coals or ash that may fall off the bowl.
- Sprinkle your shisha of choice into the clay bowl. The key here is to ensure that it is loose enough to allow air to pass through it. A common mistake people make is packing too much shisha and packing too tightly. Fill the bowl to the top but make sure you don’t go any higher than the rim as you do not want it to make contact with the foil or screen as doing so will burn the shisha making it harsh to smoke.
- Wrap the metal foil over the bowl with the matt side facing upward and wrap the edges around the rim of the clay bowl. Focus on wrapping the edges and making it as air tight as possible. Use a toothpick, or the poker which is often supplied with the tongs to poke holes in the head to allow air in from the top. The number of holes determines how much air is drawn in and how the coals burn. You can vary the number of holes to experiment with what works best for you. As a general rule, most people do 10-20 holes (this also depends on how thick your poker is).
- Place the bowl onto the hookah stem ensuring that the gasket is in place to create an air tight seal. Be sure to hold the hookah firmly with your other hand as it is easy to knock over in this process.
- Insert the hose into the opening near the vase. Once again, there should be a rubber seal here to provide a nice snug and air tight fit.
- We recommend using quick-lighting charcoals. Use the tongs provided to hold the coal while lighting it. Wait for the coal to finish sparking as you want the igniter to burn out. Blow on the charcoal until is red hot and glowing all over and then place on the foil covered bowl. Depending on the size of the coal or the bowl you may need to use more than one to provide adequate heat.
- Take a few draws to get it going. When it is set up ideally it should draw easily, taste smooth, and produce a thick white smoke. Maintain the hookah by moving the coals to avoid burning or charring the foil and shisha.