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How To Set Up A Hookah: Step By Step Guide

The only thing more wonderful than smoking hookah in a luxurious lounge is smoking from your very own hookah pipe in the comfort of your own home.

There comes a time in every hookah smoker's life when they finally make the leap and buy their very own hookah pipe for personal use. Having your own pipe at home gives you the freedom to smoke when you want, how you want, what you want, and where you want.

But when you get your first hookah, you are responsible for all aspects of your hookah smoking experience. 

Hookah lounges or hosts will often handle a lot of these responsibilities for you, which means if you have never had your own pipe, you may not know how to do these important things for yourself, like create the perfect setup.

Well don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered with a step-by-step guide to show you exactly how to set up your hookah for the perfect smoking session. Now, from the moment your MOB Hookah rig is delivered, you will be ready for a stellar smoke session.

Part One: The Prep Work

We have broken down the hookah set up into three different sections: Preparation, Set Up, and Starting the Session. Let’s get into it.

Clean Your Hookah

The first thing that you are going to need to do with your hookah is clean it! You must clean your hookah when you first get it to make sure it is nice and clean, and ready for first use. After that, you should be cleaning your hookah after every single session for max longevity and hygiene. 

Cleaning your hookah is a long process that you should learn how to do if you have your own hookah pipe. For the easiest way to clean your hookah, check out our hookah cleaning kit here

After you have cleaned your bong you should have all pieces of your hookah dry and ready to go.

Build Your Hookah

The next and final step of the prep work phase is building your hookah. Once your hookah has air dried, it’s up to you whether you want to reassemble all the hookah parts for storage, or if you have a case where you’ll store it disassembled. 

To assemble the hookah, start by screwing your stem into your base, ensuring that your grommet is in place and secure. Then you can attach the bowl and bowl grommet, ensuring a secure fit there as well. 

You can choose to reconnect your hose for storage or not, but assuming you are going to smoke right now, you can go ahead and get your hose snugly attached to the port. 

Now you have your hookah built in one piece and you are ready for set up.

Part Two: Setting Up

Pack Your Bowl

Now that you have finished your prep work, you are ready for the setup work you’ll do before every smoke session.

The first thing you should do is pack your bowl. You’re going to start by carefully removing the bowl from the stem, and placing it on the table with your shisha. Then, mix your shisha in its container using a clean shisha fork or other utensil to ensure evenly distribute glycerin and molasses distribution. Then, scoop out your desired amount of shisha onto a plate or double-layer paper towel. If you like a lighter smoke in terms of flavor, and can gently fold the paper towel over the shisha to remove some of the syrup. 

On the plate, fluff your shisha, breaking apart large clumps and gently loosening the shisha. Once it is separated to your liking, pinch some between your fingers and gently sprinkle it into your bowl, being careful not to pack it down too tight, as this will prevent necessary air flow. 

Once you have filled the bowl to a maximum of a quarter-inch from the top, you are ready to wrap the foil. Wrap the upper half of the bowl tightly with your tin foil so that the foil rests taut on top. Then, poke holes in the foil with a toothpick — we find a spiral pattern with about a two-hole space between each hole works well. 

Now your bowl is packed and ready to go.

Fill Your Vase

Now you are going to need to put water in your base. Unscrew the vase from the stem, and fill it with filtered, cold water about ⅔ of the way full. There should be enough water in the vase to cover between one-half and one inch of the downstem when the stem is put back.

You can also use other liquids besides just water. If you are looking for other ideas, check out our article of some creative hookah liquid ideas to try out. You can also throw in a few ice cubes for an even cooler smoke. 

Screw your stem back into your vase, and verify the correct water level.

Then place your bowl back on top of your stem. Your hookah should be in one piece again.

Part Three: Starting Your Smoke Session

Now you are ready to begin smoking —  here is the best way to start your session so that you get a good smoke, burn your bowl evenly, and get things going smoothly.

Light Your Coals

The next step you have is to light your coals. You are going to need a gas stove or a coal lighter to light natural coals. If you are using quick light coals, you will only need a match or lighter and a plate or coal tray for them to rest on. 

There is a lot of detail that goes into how you light your coals for the best smoke session possible. Make sure that you check our guide to know that you are lighting your coals properly.

Burn the Shisha

Now you are ready to start burning your shisha. Place your lit coal on the foil on top of your bowl, evenly spaced. 

Then you are going to take your hose and inhale just a few normal breaths, one after the other. You may need to pull like this a few times to get things started. If no smoke appears after the third or fourth pull, you may need to take two or three quick, sharp inhales to get the bowl going.

Once the bowl is lit and smoke is coming, do not pull hard, just inhale nice and steady. If you pull too hard, the hard pull of air can actually burn the shisha. If your hookah is very hard to draw on, you may have too much water in your vase.

And now you are ready to pass the hose to the next smoker.

That is all you have to do to set up your hookah. It sounds like a lot, but don’t worry, it’s pretty easy when you get going!


What if you are able to get your hookah session started and lit, but the smoke tastes bad, burns, or is harsh? Or maybe you find that your hookah is really hard to pull on, or perhaps doesnt give enough resistance?

Don’t worry, you haven’t done anything wrong. There are just a few additional things you can take a look at with your setup to get everything dialed in.

  • If your smoke is harsh, or tastes burnt… then you might be burning your shisha. This could be because you have packed your bowl too tight, causing some sections to burn. It could also be because you haven’t moved your coals recently. 
  • If your hookah is really hard to pull on… you have a few options as well. Make sure that you are only covering one inch or less of your downstem in water. If there is too much water it is going to be difficult for the air to flow. If your water levels are correct, then make sure you have enough holes in your tin foil. 
  • If your hookah is too easy to pull on… you should check to make sure that you have all of your grommets, and all seals on your hookah are air-tight. If your grommets are in place and clean, then check to make sure your release valve is working. The ball bearing should be tight in place when you inhale. If it is not, you need to tighten that up. 

Hookah Setup: The Takeaways

Now you know everything that you need in order to set up your hookah properly.

Start with a clean hookah, then pack your bowl, fill your vase, and build your hookah. Then light your coals, place them on your foil, and your shisha will start to cook. Make sure that your hookah is flowing properly and you’re ready to go.

If you are looking to get your first hookah pipe, or want to expand your arsenal of hookah equipment, then we here at MOB Hookah have you covered. We make high-quality hookah pipes and sell a wide variety of bowls, vases, accessories, hoses, and shisha so that you always have the proper equipment for your smoke session.

And for more great content like this, keep checking back here at our blog for the latest articles and guides to make you a hookah pro. 


How to Pack a Hookah Phunnel Bowl | Hookah.org

Hookah Parts - Beginner Hookah Guides (1/2) | Hookah.org

The Definitive Guide to Shisha Coals | Hookah.org

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