What Are All Parts of a Hookah?
Smoking hookah for the first time is a wonderful experience, an exciting new way to connect with friends over a bowl of delicious and relaxing shisha.
But when you’re new to hookah smoking, it can be somewhat intimidating. After all, there are a lot more pieces and parts on a hookah than there are in a cigarette.
Understanding all of the parts of a hookah is key to getting more familiar with hookah smoking. It’s essential to understand all the parts of a hookah before owning one yourself so that you know how to care for it properly.
MOB Hookah is here to help you get familiar with all of the different parts of a hookah so that you can have all of the know-how on your favorite smoking method.
Here is a quick start guide to all of the parts of a hookah and what they do.
Let's start at the top, with the hookah bowl. The hookah bowl is the part of the hookah that holds your hookah tobacco, which is called shisha. Hookah bowls are typically made of ceramic or clay, but can also be made of metals, glass, or silicone.
There are three major styles of hookah bowl: Egyptian, vortex, and phunnel bowls. Egyptian bowls are typically made of coal, and feature a bowl-shaped top, with five or so holes in the bottom that allow smoke to pass down into the stem.
Vortex and phunnel bowls feature a bowl with a raised center spire that contains the hole to allow smoke into the stem. This raised center design prevents wet and sticky shisha juices from dripping into the stem and vase, which can result in an unwanted flavor residue called ghosting until you do a deep clean.
Your hookah bowl is also typically covered in aluminum foil or a heat management device to separate the coals from the shisha.
Coals and Foil
The coals and foil go on top of the hookah bowl, separating the coals from the shisha in the bowl, and essentially “cooks” the shisha to produce smoke.
You can use a heat management device instead of foil, but the most common thing to use is tin foil. Using foil or a heat management device prevents you from getting ash in your shisha and gets the proper amount of heat to your shisha.
There are two main types of coals for hookah: quick-lighting coals and natural coals.
- Quick lighting coals are coated in a chemical accelerant that allows them to light quickly with a lighter or match, and burn quickly.
- Natural coals require a coal heating device of stove top to heat for several minutes before they are usable, but they provide a longer, less intense, and less chemical flavored heat to the shisha for smoking.
The wind cover is an optional attachment for your hookah bowl. The windscreen raises above your coals and protects them from wind to keep them lit and hot if you’re smoking outdoors.
Even indoors, a wind cover can be a great layer of protection against a tipped over hookah, as it can keep your coals from falling and burning your floors.
The Stem and Ashtray
The stem is the long tube of the hookah that connects the bowl to the base (or vase) of the hookah. Stems are typically made of stainless steel, aluminum, or brass, but can be made with all sorts of metals and other materials, depending on the style and price of the hookah.
The ashtray is typically at the very top of the stem, and usually built into the stem. The ashtray is there to catch any coal dropping that falls while smoking. The ashtray also provides a place to rest hookah coals when the shisha gets too hot and you need to let it breathe.
At the top of the stem where the bowl connects there is also something called a bowl grommet. The bowl grommet is a rubber piece that makes the connection between stem and bowl airtight to prevent smoke leakage.
Base / Vase
The vase is the base part of the hookah, where the water resides. The vase or base is the very bottom piece of the hookah, and where the smoke filters through water before being inhaled.
Vases are traditionally made of glass, and you can see the smoke and water as it works. You can also find vases made of acrylic and crystal.
The vase also has a vase grommet, where the stem and vase connect. Just like the bowl grommet, the vase grommet’s purpose is to seal the connection between the vase and stem to prevent smoke leakage.
The down stem is the very bottom piece of the stem. The downstem goes into the vase and rests in the water. The downstem should be between ½ inch and one inch below the waterline of the vase for optimal use.
The downstem is where the smoke enters the water for filtering from the stem, before rising back up into the part of the vase that does not have water.
The hose port is a part of the stem that rests just above the vase. The hose port is the piece of the hookah where the hoses connect to the hookah.
Some hookahs have only one hose port for a single hose to be attached. Others have multiple hose ports, designed for multiple hoses to plug into. There are also splitters that you can buy that allow you to connect more hoses.
Pressure Release Valve
The pressure release valve is typically located on the opposite side of the hose port, on the same piece of the vase.
The pressure release valve contains a ball bearing that seals off the hookah while you are sucking in on the hose and opens a pressure release hole when you blow out of the hookah to allow the release of stale smoke from the vase.
The hookah hose is the piece from which you draw on the hookah. There are several different types of hoses that you may be familiar with.
Traditional hoses are typically made of leather and have a cardboard and metal coil on the inside to maintain the shape of the hose.
There are also washable hoses that are still made with a leather or leather alternative, but instead of cardboard and metal interior, they use a plastic coating on the inside, which allows you to clean it with water.
There are silicon hoses as well, which are cheaper and much easier to clean than washable hoses and traditional hoses.
Then there are disposable hoses, which are made of plastic and intended for one-time use.
Hookah Parts: The Takeaways
There are many parts of the hookah, and understanding them will help you better tinker with and optimize your hookah setup for the perfect smoke session. Knowledge is power, and this is true for hookah, too.
There is a lot more to learn about each of these parts, but at least now you are familiar with the anatomy of a hookah and can begin to see how each part works and creates the hookah experience you know and love.
We also offer tons of advice and information on hookah smoking in our hookah blog, so be sure to check us out for all of your hookah information and needs.