This post was initially created to answer the age old questions of what hookah should I get and who should I buy it from, but has evolved to provide a more comprehensive source of information. This post will be updated as needed. At the end I have supplied a mini glossary of terms to help with understanding what was written. Please feel free to PM your suggestions. All comments on the existence of this thread are being handled here: (click me
) (PS: Pictures were taken from the websites of all the major vendors)
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Let me begin by answering the question, where should I buy from?
If you check out the vendor section of the forums (Click Here
), you will find Vendor Introductions, Vendor Reviews, and best of all, Vendor Deals. If a vendor has been known to deal unfairly with customers, they will not be featured on this site. That is to say, if they are on this site, you can trust them. Also, there are tons of video reviews that will even show you how they package their goods for their customers.
Now let me begin to attempt to answer the biggest question.
What hookah should I get?
Most importantly, there are many preferences in hookahs. At the end of this post please try to avoid posting one hookah vs another threads. Feel free to share you experience with your purchase by all means. Remember that this is to help educate you on your new purchase, not decide for you. The final word is on you
Let me begin to address what you may notice from the general types.
These are considered to be among the best made hookahs in the world. *Generic*, Khalil Maamoun (KM), and Magdy Zidan (MZ) hookahs are most of what you will see available in the international market outside of the Middle East. Most of these hookahs will be steel hookahs, but you will find the occasional brass hookah, mostly from Khalil Maamoun and the rarer *generic* hookahs. They tend to have a variety of smooth shapes that rib the stem in their stylings. The pull of these hookahs are usually good and a lot of times effortless. They also tend to purge very well. The glass is usually of decent to great quality with little to no imperfections.
These hookahs rival the Egyptian hookahs in quality. The craftsmanship of these hookahs is something to be desired. Nour, Al-Fakher, and Al-Nawras are among the known brands of these hookahs. You will find that many of the *generic* hookahs are actually made by one of these companies. Odder enough is the fact that Al-Fakher stems are really made by Nour. These hookahs tend to be primarily made out of brass. The brass comes in a gold color, a silver color achieved through nickel plating, or a mix of the two. They tend to have shorter downstems than other hookahs, however this does not take away from functionality; one simply has to fill the water higher in the base. They have excellent purge qualities and pull qualities like the Egyptian hookahs. The stems tend to be shorter than Egyptian ones, however because of the solid brass construction they do tend to significantly heavier making the durable. Because of the brass construction however, they should be polished every once in a while to keep their original brilliance. The stems are known for their unique traditional etchings and straight or teardrop shapes. Although originally the stems were female and the bowls where male, most new hookahs coming out of Syria have adapted to the Egyptian trend of having a male stem and a female bowl. This accommodates most of the aftermarket bowls.
These hookahs tend to be the rest of what is seen on the market. They tend to be made out of aluminum and acrylic materials, although it is possible to find them in steel. The most notable brand is Mya Saray, almost always referred to as Mya, that are considered to be far superior than any of the other Chinese hookahs. These hookahs tend to mostly have modern designs and tend to be shorter hookahs. They are much lighter and feel much cheaper when held, however many of these hookahs still smoke excellently. Most of these hookahs feature a common chamber which is a feature that is less desired in hookahs because of the difficulty in maintenance and purging. The good thing about these hookahs is that they tend to be significantly cheaper and available in many different styles. These hookahs are also very easy to modify to allow up to 4 hoses smoking off of one smaller stem. Mya hookahs are almost always offered with outstanding glass bases, although some are offered with acrylic bases.
These hookahs are very rare in the international market, however Turkish goods stores do carry them. They tend to be very similar to Syrian stylings.
These hookahs are seen in a variety of lesser known shops and many Indian goods stores. They tend to have either all metal or all wood stems as well as very large bowls made for Tombak, not the tobacco that most people are accustomed to smoking. The bases are almost never made out of glass, making it slightly hard to determine how much water to add, although they still smoke quite well. The Indian/Mogul design tends to lack purge valves as well.
True persian hookahs are a rare find online. The stems come in a variety of materials, brass, steel and wood, and are usually traditionally but attractively decorated. Many of these hookahs also come with a Tombak bowl, which again, is not meant for smoking the tobacco that most people are used to today.
From my experience here, I will subjectively list the “better” hookahs and the ones people tend to recommend in this community.
These hookahs are small, inexpensive, and work like a charm. They do not purge as well as their Syrian and Egyptian counterparts, but they do the job. For a first time buyer with not much money to spare, this hookah comes highly recommended. They are also very easy to transport and make for a good “party” hookah. They are sold with Mya hoses, which people often replace for more desirable hoses due to the pull restriction on Mya hoses.
Most all of these hookahs smoke the exact same, regardless of their basic design and height. They smoke as well as their counterpart, Khalil Maamoun, however the overall quality of these hookahs is considered to be less that of KM. They do however, tend to be less expensive, sometimes even half the cost, of KM hookahs. A great buy for someone looking into a mid-sized to tall hookah with a little bit of money to spend. They do tend to come with generic or chinese hoses.
The name has many different spellings, although this one tends to be accepted everywhere. These hookahs are favored by many in the American market and by a good portion of the HookahPro community. They are of very high quality, they smoke excellently, they come with an attractive pull with a wide pull, and the glass tends to also be of a higher quality than other hookahs. The stylings of these hookahs greatly vary, although they tend to remain close to traditional Egyptian designs. This hookah, however, tends to be for those with a little more money to spend. Most of these hookahs will be no cheaper than 80 dollars, and some of them sell around 140 dollars or so. When you buy this hookah, you will not be disappointed in the quality, pull, or purge, however it is argued that they are still not the best hookahs out there. The brass varieties tend to be considered of a higher quality than their steel counterparts, but are significantly harder to find. It is, however, easier to find steel/copper/brass hybrid stems.
Nour and Al-Fakher
Known for their solid brass stems and quality, the demand for these hookahs is increasing. They purge well, although some models do purge slower than others. The pull varies from wide open to slight restriction, which is sometimes desired more than a wide-open pull. These hookahs tend to be sold with generic hoses, however, many of these hoses are still excellent. The price varies, but usually these hookahs can be acquired for around 80 to 90 dollars, however one pays a premium on the Al-Fakher hookahs which cost up to 125 a rig. There exists a never ending battle between Nour and KM smokers on these forums on how well they smoke, however, it is hard to deny the overall craftsmanship superiority that these stems do have. Remember its your decision in the end.
These hookahs are sought after for being highly customizable, however its the vases that many people prefer. The stems are mostly aluminum or steel, and tend to be very generic in styling, however, the bases come in a variety of modern designs and colors. The hookahs are considered to smoke decently but not as well as their Syrian and Egyptian counterparts. These hookahs tend to cost almost if not as much as MZs and KMs, however they are often sold at discount for factory imperfections.
Please note that these were only a handful of suggestions for hookahs and that your decision should be yours and yours alone. Research the market heavily before you make your choice.
Once you have narrowed down your search, consider what comes with your hookah. Are the tongs cheap or are they nice? Will you need to replace the hose for something with a larger gauge or something that is washable? Do you like a fixed ashtray or a loose on? Does it come with a brush? You’ll want one to clean your baby! Will your hookah be a personal smoker or a party hookah? Do you want something that will be portable with either a bag or a hard case? How much will you pay for shipping? Most importantly, remember to consider how much tobacco and coals you will be getting with your purchase!
Features to Consider
Most hookahs these days come with Egyptian style bowls, that is to say, female bowls that fit on a male stem. The majority of hookahs are sold with some sort of Egyptian Clay bowl or a Mod bowl these days, however, some websites do offer options to add a non-traditional bowl to your new hookah purchase.
These bowls are usually handmade claw bowls that have between 4 and 5 holes in the bottom. These bowls usually come glazed and colored brown, however they are occasionally colored. The smaller varieties tend to be shallow and hold between 10-15g of tobacco while the larger ones are deeper and wider and hold up to 25-30g of tobacco.
Almost the exact same as Egyptian bowls save for a male bowl design that fits on a female stem. Modern bowls made in Syria today are practically no different from the standard Egyptian bowl. Syrian mainly refers to the sex of the bowl these days.
Mod or Modern bowls (aka Mya bowls) tend to be wide bowls with many large holes. They are manufactured uniformly in a variety of colors. These are also known as Mya bowls, because Mya is one of the largest producers of this style of bowl. Most of these bowls are made in China. These bowls are known to carry up to 25g of tobacco.
Tangiers (aka funnel / phunnel)
These ceramic bowls have an inverted funnel design in the center so the tobacco does not fall thought the hole and the juice of the tobacco stays in the bowl. Because cannot drip to the bottom of the bowl, some believe the flavor intensifies and the session can be extended. These bowls come in a variety of sizes and tends to hold more tobacco than a standard bowl.
“The bowl, instead of leaking precious flavor down your stem, holds in all of shisha [tobacco] taste and pulls through the spire in the middle. This allows the shisha [tobacco] packed to smoke longer and stay moist, so it's near impossible to burn. The Vortex Hookah Bowl holds around 25 to 30 grams of shisha [tobacco].” -- SaharaSmoke.com. Much like a Tangiers bowl, there is a funnel inverted in the middle of the bowl, but instead of a hole on the top, there are 4 holes on the side of the spire.
When a hookah is larger than 13” or so, this really becomes an issue of preference over functionality. The heat from the bowl would not disturb the temperature of the water any more than normal. Hookahs between 20-36 inches tend to smoke better than the rest. The taller a hookah is, the harder it is to clean. You may just need to clean it in the bathtub if its bigger than 30 inches.
Comes only in a silver color, is lightweight, yet strong.
Comes in either silver or gold, is heavy, extremely durable, but requires occasional polishing.
Many hookahs come with their own brand name hoses, some are good, some are bad. Consider the gauge of the hose.
Nammour/Razan/Caravan/Grand hoses are washable varieties that are often sought after, however there are several other inexpensive washable hoses available.
Nonwashable hoses will rust when washed, however are great for acquiring flavor. KM hoses are ones that are sought after while Mya hoses tend to be desired less. Syrian hoses (pictured below) are also sought after for a traditional design.
Multiple Hose Feature
Many people desire this, however, the smoke session is drastically hindered. When multiple people inhale at once, they fight for the smoke. This also burns the tobacco out quicker, and requires more coals to use.
Some hookahs are available with rotators which allow the hookah to swivel when passing the hose. It is not a popular feature as there is rarely a problem when passing the hose. In addition there are separate rotators available, however they are for the most part, unnecessary. The more hoses on the rotating hookahs, the less of a need to rotate.
The restriction when inhaling smoke. Many people like there to be no restriction, although many prefer a slight restriction. Most everyone frowns on moderate to heavy restriction.
The ability to blow smoke out of the purge valve. This is done when maintaining your heat to clear harsh smoke. Many hookahs purge poorly because of their chamber design.
The bottom of the stem that fits on top of the glass is called the chamber. In a common chamber, this section is hallow with a hole at the top for each hose port and purge valve. Some hookahs are sold as plated common chambers where a plate is welded on the bottom. Holes are drilled in the plate under each purge valve and hose port. The downside to this method is that the chamber tends to be harder to maintain and the hookah as a whole is harder to purge. These hookahs, however, tend to be less expensive than others.
These chambers have a hole at the bottom of the chamber that leads directly to the hose port or purge valve without sharing smoke with any other component in the chamber.
For more information on chambers, check out HippieMama's video: Hookah Pro How-to: Identifying Common & Traditional Chambers
Acronyms(Thanks to TheGirlfriend
for most of the list)
HS - Hookah-Shisha.com
SS-Sahara Smoke (more rarely Shooting Star)
WTB-Want To Buy
WTS-Want To Sell
WTT-Want To Trade
Common Questions (95% by FusionX
Properly packing the bowl
Remove all stems from the shisha. Break the shisha apart then sprinkle it into your bowl. Do not underpack or overpack the bowl. Have the shisha sit just below the rim. If the foil ends up touching the shisha, it may result in a harsh smoke (burning shisha). Use 1 layer of HD foil, or 2 layers of regular foil. Make your hole pattern with something equivalent to the size of a toothpick. Make sure the foil is “tight like a drum” around your bowl.
Smoke is getting harsh
Remove 1 less coal from your bowl. Rotate the remaining coals and purge. This should fix the problem most of the time. If it doesn’t, make sure your foil isn’t touching the shisha (when you packed the bowl) because the shisha might be burning. Also make sure the holes you poked in the foil aren’t microscopic. Smaller holes = more heat!
Keep yourself hydrated with liquids when smoking. It is a good idea to also have a hefty meal beforehand. Another reason a headache may occur is because the “gunpowder” used to ignite quick-light charcoals. Make sure your coals are RED HOT before placing them on your bowl.
Applies to Tangiers only, it only dries out the rest.
Contribute to the scene. Participate in contests/drawings and throw up those video reviews. This is the best way to get recognized by vendors. Be sure to promote them in your videos! They will come to you. Do not beg for freebies.
Use more heat and allow more airflow.
Add your favorite juice into your base or experiment with flavors resembling your shisha. If your liquid of choice is highly concentrated (like pure cranberry juice), it is a good idea to dilute it with some water.
Water shooting up into the hose
Make sure the purge valve isn’t stuck. Clean the ball bearing and its adapter after each use. A good practice is to fill the base up with water an inch above the end of your stem. This method should always be practiced.
BB keeps getting stuck
Clean your purge port after every use including the BB itself. Some users have purchased replacement BB’s from airsoft or BB guns and reported that they get the job done.
Foil enters phunnel hole
Chinese phunnels have more of an extended hole piece than tangiers. This may cause aluminum foil to get sucked into the hole part. I would consider sanding this piece down or simply purchasing a tangiers phunnel bowl. Remember to cover the bowl head “tight like a drum” with your aluminum foil.
Choosing a Vendor
Out of respect to the community, it is recommended to purchase from a paid advertiser on the HookahPro.com forum. This will help in the long-run meaning more contests/giveaways (free shisha) and help our community grow as a whole. Also who can forget about our lovable discounts? *wink wink*