Re: Frequently Asked Questions? (WIP)
Since no one else is going for it I guess I will start. Keep in mind I smoke other people's hookahs so I speak from research more than experience here.
-What is a good beginner's hookah?
Any reasonably inexpensive medium sized hookah will work to get you started. Something in the 24" to 30" roughly. Smaller and larger will work fine but the mid range will allow you to play around with more accessories and let you learn a little about the advantages and disadvantages of some of the features of some of the parts.
I want to get a quality hookah, what should I get? Look for good seals cover all the holes and blow in it to check for significant leaks. Look for a base with a good sized smoke reservoir (the part of the base not filled with water). Look for an aesthetically pleasing hookah. You are more likely to smoke it if you like how pretty it is. Check the width of the stem pipe the wider it is the easier smoke will flow through same with the hose. Typically hand made will hold up better longer than machined or poured parts so look for the tale tale seam. Not the end of the world if it is a poured pipe from a mold but don't expect considerable longevity from it. If you get it great if not replace it.
Basically if you get it from a reputable dealer that you have checked out and read all the feed back on then they will carry great smoking hookahs. Ask them for advice before you buy and pick out something you will want to smoke.
What kind of tobacco is good for a beginner?
Samples are great. 50g samples of whatever you can get your hands on. Read the review section on this website for ideas of what is a must have and what is a must not have. If there are places near you that sell tobacco then lean more towards those brands and flavors in your sampling at least at first. Again the more convenient your go to tobacco is the more likely you are to keep on enjoying it. If you run out a couple of days before a big party and your go to tobacco has to be ordered from across the country or across the world then you are screwed but if you can pick up a 250g pack at the market down the street its just a small bump in the road. Dig.
My friend doesn't want to smoke tobacco, is herbal a good alternative?
Most of the people here don't have much to do with the herbal alternatives. My best advice is pick a few that have good reviews and try them out yourself. If you like it chances are they will too. However, it must be stated that it all depends on why your friend doesn't want to smoke tobacco. If it is health reasons then all I can say is there is no such thing as a healthy smoke. Or as I like to put it there is no better only less bad kind of like picking a political candidate. If it is allergies to tobacco then herbal may just be the way to go. Give Saalaam a chance. Even if it sucks the box smells wonderful so you can leave it in your car as an air freshener. LOL.
What is the best kind of coal?
The one that gives you the heat you need in a reasonable amount of time for you. My consideration is to start with Quicklights because starting out you don't have a pattern or program down for managing the times. Quicklights will let you catch up as you figure out set up and poking holes in foil and all that. You can just light them up at the end of your set up and in less than a minute you will be puffing away. Check the reviews section but about the only ones that got consistent avoid scores were Rollands. If you have been smoking a while or just know how to set the pipe up and want to just jump right into developing a program get naturals. They are apparently night to day better but they take about 4 to 5 minutes to get properly lit. Start them first and then go set up everything else they should be done when you get back.
If you are still in doubt pick up ******* hookah's coals in either quicklight or natural.
What is the difference between Quicklite and Natural?
Quicklights are fast but have a starter built in them that burns off clean but can smell pretty strongly during the lighting process. They generally produce decent heat and have ok longevity. There seems to be some quality difference in smoking but no one really quantifies in what way. Naturals usually are lit on a stove burner or with a torch and take about 4 to 5 minutes to get good and lit. They burn clean and smoke well and usually last a long time. The material, size, and shape will all affect the heat, duration, and quality of smoke.
How many coals should I use?
This has many factors and is best answered with experience. The size of the bowl, the depth, girth, and set up can affect it, as well as the size, shape, and material of the coals. In general it is a matter of if you are heating the tobacco enough to get good thick smoke without getting burned flavor (which apparently is sometimes bitter but usually tastes kind of like you lit some sugar on fire). If you burn it then remove the coals for a few seconds open the purge valve a little and blow the excess smoke out then close the valve and put one less coal back on in a different spot from where it was and see if that makes a difference.
What is so special about Phunnel/Vortex bowls?
They are designed so as to keep the molasses from dripping through the bottom of the head as they become more viscous with heat which may or may not be a problem depending on how and how often you deep clean your hookah, how often you smoke it, what kind of tobaccos you use, and simply whether or not you have a big problem with it. The idea behind this is it keeps the flavor in the bowl throughout the entire session so you have flavor to the end no matter what you are smoking. Nice upgrade but one that is most definitely optional.
What's the deal with these multi-headed bowls?
they are supposed to make mixing easier. Really though mixing is as simple as putting two flavors in your bowl together. Apparently some tobaccos don't mix all that well but again there are other ways around it. What it really all boils down to is that these are simply novelties and about the only advantage is you can use them on multi-hose systems to get more heat on more tobacco giving more smoke to draw from or if you want to go on a marathon smoking session and just go bowl to bowl without repacking. Beyond that you are just trying to impress your friends.
What kind of foil should I use, and what's this screen all about?
Kitchen aluminum foil torn into a square about twice the diameter of your bowl should work. Maybe a little smaller even would work. Be sure to pull it tight.
How many holes should I put in the foil, and what kind of pattern?
There are about as many answers to this as there are people smoking hookahs but try starting with a 2 or three ring pattern beginning at the outter rim of the bowl and moving about a quarter of an inch in each ring. The idea is to get enough air flow to keep the coals lit and get the heat down in the bowl with out too many holes to let the heat escape too much. Experiment cause different people using different tobaccos on different pipes get different results doing different things. There are a few kind of standardized ways to do it some better than other depending on what you want and what you are smoking and on what bowl. Play with it a little and it will be fine.
6. Hookah/Pipe/narghile Setup
How much tobacco should I put in the bowl?
loosely let it kind of fall into the bowl until the bowl is filled to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the rim. Depends on the size of the bowl as to how much that is. Other bowls have different packing methods but I don't know much about that.
How many holes should I put in the foil, and what kind of pattern?
How much water should I put in the base?
Until the tip of the stem is about 1 inch under water or so.
Can I put other liquids in the base besides water?
Yes but be careful about how much because if it bubbles too much it will go up into your hose. If it is washable not the worst thing that can happen but if it isn't it can ruin your hose. Milk by itself seems to be a bad idea.
I'm barely getting any smoke, what's wrong?
Not enough heat or other set up problem, leaks, or clogged pipe. Try adding more coal or making sure the one you have is good and lit and if you put more than 3 and you still don't get much or any smoke then give your pipe a good cleaning and check the seals.
When I try to take a puff, it's very hard, what's wrong?
No air holes in the foil or too few, clog somewhere in the pipe or hose, kink in the hose, or mouse in the stem. Check for clogs and kinks and give it a really good scrub down.
My hookah/hose smells funny, should I clean it, and how can I?
Clean your hookah every time you use it by running watter through the stem and rincing out the vase and bowl really well. Also blow the excess smoke out of your hoses. Every so often use a little lemon juice and baking soda and kind of scrub that in really well then rinse extra well to get it all washed out. You can also boil your bowl and let some lemon juice water and baking soda sit in the base for a while overnight is good then rinse it.
7. Miscellaneous Questions
Is buying a new hose really that important?
You can get by with a standard hose. For many people it is all they ever knew. I have known many people who have smoked for years without buying another hose except for one for each flavor. The reason buying a new hose is so advocated is because a wider hose makes for a much easier draw and bigger richer clouds. Also a washable hose helps to keep the flavors from collecting and mixing in your hose and eventually making it to where all your tobaccos taste the same. These days washable hoses can be bought for close to and sometimes less than a new more traditional hose. Generally though when you buy a hookah the hose that comes with it is a wrapped leather or imitation leather non washable hose most of which will have a little bit tighter draw but that depends on the individual hose. Those are great but eventually need to be replaced either from wear and tear or from flavor saturation.
How can I make my own hookah?
The best way is to buy piece mill parts and put it together but if you are industrious and do some research the hookah is pretty simple. You will need a reservoir something that will hold water and yet leave headroom for smoke to build up and is wide enough to fit your stem and hose pipe through the top. You will need a stem something that will hold the bowl or head it can be fairly long and as simple or complex as you want. you will need something to fix a hose to that will allow you to suck the smoke out of the base. You need seals to keep air and smoke from escaping. Then a hose and a head. Make sure the stem goes deep enough to allow head room and go under water about an inch then smoke. The basic physics of the hookah is beautiful simple and complex all at the same time. when you suck on the hose you create a difference in pressure between the hair in the base and the air outside. The base has to fill it and the only way it can do that is drawing air through the head. That draws heat into the bowl and keeps the coals going good and strong.
What is a good online store to order my hookah supplies from?
Check out the vendor section and read the reviews. There are several all over the country. Each one has a different mix of product and different pricing and shipping options. Find the one that has what you need and can do what you need best. Then enjoy.
Where can I find discount codes for online stores?
Vendor deals and offers section it is a sticky. The front page has an up to date list of vendor codes for vendors who are part of this community.
How can I become an elite member, and what do I get for being one?
I just learned that you become an elite member by donating at least $25 to keeping this fine establishment going and in turn growing. You get access to some elite sections of the site, special deals, and some enhanced features like larger in-box and stuff like that. Mostly you get to know that you are helping make this place better and you are keeping it going.
AF - AL Fakher
HH - Hookah Hookah
SB - Starbuzz or strawberry depending on context (obviously Nakhla SB isn't going to be Nakhla Starbuzz and SB apple isn't going to be strawberry apple nine times out of ten)
AW - Al Waha
CH - ******* Hookah
QL - Quick light
3k - 3 Kings
CN - Coco Nara
Nattys - Natural wood Coals
Km - Khalil Mamoon
MZ - Magdy Zidan
Last edited by Fezzik; November 6th, 2008 at 04:16 PM.
Reason: add more info