Which Hookah Bowl Is Best?
When you are looking to add to your hookah equipment collection, or just getting started with hookah and trying to assemble all of the necessary equipment, it can easily feel overwhelming.
There are tons of options for every aspect of your hookah, from hoses, to hookah types, to shisha, and yes, even the bowl. The bowl is one of the most important aspects of your hookah setup, as it is the piece of the hookah that comes into direct contact with your shisha tobacco.
Choosing the right bowl has to do with both styles of design and the material used to make said bowl. These combine to change the way that your shisha is heated, and how the smoke travels down the stem and into the base of your hookah.
If you are new to hookah and don’t know where to begin, or are an experienced hookah smoker who just needs a refresher, here is the MOB Hookah guide to choosing the best hookah bowl for you.
What Does the Bowl Do?
The bowl is the primary holder for the shisha and is the most important area of your hookah for heat management.
The bowl is where you pack the shisha when you smoke. You place your foil or heat management device directly on top of the bowl, so the bowl is where the coals make contact with the hookah setup. Having a high-quality bowl in the correct style can help make sure that you get the experience you want out of your smoke session.
When your bowl gets too hot, it will burn your shisha too fast and too harsh, leading to unpleasant-tasting smoke, and this can ruin your smoking session.
If, on the other hand, your bowl is too cold, it will not promote an even heating of the shisha, leading to cold and hot spots, burning some shisha and leaving other areas perfectly cool and unsmoked. This will also give you a strange tasting smoke and make a longer session difficult or even impossible, and can waste a lot of shisha, too.
What Are My Hookah Bowl Options?
If you have ever been shopping for a bowl before, then you probably realized there are far more options than you ever thought possible.
When choosing a hookah bowl, you will be presented with two variables: the style, and the material. Each has an impact on the smoking experience, so we will tackle each separately.
First, let's take a closer look at the bowl styles that you might encounter, and how each of them differs.
Hookah Bowl Style Guide
When dealing with hookah bowl styles, you have a few options. The most common hookah bowl styles are:
- Fruit Head
These five make up the most popular types of bowl heads that you will find on the market today. We’re going to give you the lowdown on each one and the pros and cons that come with them.
Egyptian Style Hookah Bowl
The most common type of hookah bowl that you will find is the Egyptian style hookah. If you have ever smoked hookah before in a hookah bar or lounge, it was almost certainly using an Egyptian style bowl.
The Egyptian style bowl is respected for its simplicity, ease of use, and its traditional use in hookah.
You will recognize an Egyptian style hookah bowl because it will have four to six relatively large holes in the bottom of the bowl, which allows smoke to enter the stem.
Some of the benefits of the Egyptian hookah bowl are that it is very cheap and easy to find, so if yours breaks, it will be very easy to get a replacement. They also come in a wide variety of colors and sizes, so you will always have a bowl that is the right size for you and your friends.
But the downsides of Egyptian bowls are also plentiful. For starters, the large holes at the bottom mean that if you are using particularly sticky, highly flavored shisha, you can get glycerin and molasses dripping into your hookah, which leads to some pretty intensive cleanup.
You are also going to get pretty basic suction and airflow, as the several holes design is classic, but not the most effective.
The Vortex Bowl
The first of the widely popular and available modifications to the widespread and traditional Egyptian bowl is the vortex bowl. The vortex bowl was specifically designed to solve the problem of molasses dripping into the hookah from juicier, more modern shisha.
The vortex bowl takes the holes at the bottom of the bowl, and replaces them with one center hole raised above the shisha in the center. This allows for airflow above the shisha, keeping the drippings from entering the hookah itself.
The obvious pro of the vortex bowl is that it can be used with highly flavored, very wet shisha, without getting drippings clogging up your hookah. Some smokers also get a better flavor from vortex bowls, since the drippings stay in the bowl.
The cons involve the airflow. Since there is just one center spire, some smokers may notice a difference in feel on the draw with a vortex bowl. This can obviously be adjusted in your setup, but something to note.
The Phunnel Bowl
The phunnel bowl style is simply a take on a vortex bowl. The one change between vortex and phunnel bowls is that phunnel bowls have a larger air intake than typical vortex bowls.
This leads to better, more prominent airflow, which some hookah smokers find preferable.
The pro of the phunnel bowl is the wide-open airflow that the larger hole provides, and they don't really have very many cons. They are widely known to smoke shisha evenly and fully, without burning, and provide a great smoking experience.
You can check out some of our MOB Hookah phunnel bowls here (and as a modern hookah company, we updated that spelling to “funnel,” too for our line ;)
The Electric Hookah Bowl
The electric hookah bowl is a newcomer to the hookah market, but has been very popular. Instead of using shisha tobacco, electric bowls allow you to smoke your favorite vape juice instead.
This is a great choice for vape smokers who want the hookah experience.
The pro is that it is usable with vape juice, helping vapors enter the hookah world.
The con is that it only smokes vape juice, which won’t quite give you the same hookah experience that shisha does.
The Fruit Head Bowl
Fruti head bowls are more of a DIY experiment for your hookah. Be warned, it will make for some significant clean-up after your smoke session.
All you have to do is take a fruit of the appropriate size, hollow out the center, cut a few holes in the bottom (like in Egyptian style), and cover it with foil after filling as you would any bowl.
The advantage is that you get some crisp, fresh fruit flavors in your smoke.
The cons are the intensive clean-up and their hands-on nature. You can also only use a fruit head once.
Bowl Material Choices
There are a few materials that you will commonly find bowls made out of. The most common and most traditional is clay, and this is a common choice for many smokers.
Clay bowls are great because they do a very good job of retaining heat and keeping the tobacco hot all around.
Ceramic bowls are also common. Ceramic is a type of clay used in mass production, but it doesn't hold heat as well as traditional clay bowls, and is also easier to break.
Glass bowls are common, too, but should only be used in full glass hookahs. They don’t retain heat well but are a good addition.
If you want to experiment with bowl materials, we at MOB Hookah offer this beauty, called the Diamond Bowel — it is made out of crystal, and looks and smokes clean. It is in a funnel style so it is perfect for modern shisha.
Hookah Bowls: The Takeaway
There are two main distinctions between types of bowls, the style, and the material.
When we talk about style, you are dealing with traditional Egyptian style, great for traditional shisha; then vortex and phunnel style, perfect for stickier, more flavorful shisha; then electric and fruit head bowls, which are really more novelty than anything.
You also have the choice of material — ceramic, glass, and clay are common, but there is room for interpretation.
When choosing a bowl, choose a style and material that is appropriate for the type of shisha you like. If you smoke more modern shisha that is wetter, opt for a vortex or phunnel, otherwise go with Egyptian for a traditional feel.