Looking to get a little more out of your traditional hookah session? Check out these ten, low cost ways to make your hookah session even better!
This one is an oldie but a goodie–and it’s so simple even a caveman could do it! Just kidding. Pretty sure cavemen didn’t have ice.
Adding ice to the water in your hookah base produces a chilled, thick smoke. It’s acts as a great pick-me-up for outside smoking on a hot summer, though you can technically do it any time of year (also works great indoors).
Pro tip: don’t overfill the ice! You still want the water in your base to flow smoothly so the smoke has somewhere to go. A 1:4 ratio of ice to water should do the trick. Also–make sure to put in ice after you’ve filled the base with water…dumping ice into an empty glass base could potentially damage it.
Ah, the old “real fruit bowl”–a premium (aka expensive) staple at hookah lounges everywhere. While it’s alway nice to have other people doing things for you, don’t be fooled by the price…you can easily do this yourself, and at a fraction of the cost!
A fruit bowl will give your hookah session a big flavor infusion, and it looks really neat–in other words, a great way to impress your friends! For best results, use firm, less juicy fruits. Apples, pears, melons, and pineapples will all work great.
Pro tip: always err on the side of safety. Make sure the fruit you’re using has been properly hollowed out, and that the top has been evenly leveled. You definitely want to make sure that your charcoals don’t slip off.
This one is super simple, but it’s a great way to enhance your hookah smoking session. When placing foil over your hookah bowl, make sure that the shiny side of the foil is placed downwards. In other words–the dull side of the foil is where you’ll want to put your charcoals.
The reasons for this are simple physics–the shinier side of foil reflects heat better, and it retains more of that ever-so-lovely “hotness” being sent to your shisha. Still, don’t feel super bummed out if you don’t notice a huge difference. This is one of the more subtler tricks.
Pro tip: regardless of how you eventually decide to place your foil, make sure it’s secured tight on your hookah bowl.
If you’re a hookah newbie, you probably haven’t put much thought into which charcoals you use. Well, this should end now! Not all hookah coals are created equally, and natural charcoals are undeniably the best of the bunch. Even if is debatable, they’re still 100 times better than quick-lights (I feel gross just thinking about them).
The most common natural charcoals are ones derived from coconut, and they’re also one of the best options currently available. Coconara coals are highly regarded (I used them and I loved them), and they also burn for quite a long time. You may also want to consider lemonwood or orangewood coals, though they tend to come in more haphazard shapes (and are a little tricker to get burning).
Pro tip: coconut coals take a little longer to get started. To speed up the process, try flipping them on your burner after five or so minutes. Oh, and make sure your burner is set to HOT.
Want to enhance the flavor aspect of your hookah session, but don’t feel comfortable carving out a fruit bowl? Try adding different liquids to your hookah water! It’s an easy little hack, and with the right additions and shisha, you have the ability to come up with some really nifty flavor combination.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Pro tips: two things to keep in mind here–
I personally know very few hookah-holics that stick to a single flavor of shisha. In all honesty, that sounds super boring. So I’m going to assume you’re like most hookah smokers out there, and you enjoy mixing it up every now and then.
The problem with this? After a while, the smoke begins to taste pretty much the same, regardless of how frequently you clean your hookah (which should be everyday). It’s probably your hose. Truth be told, it’s really difficult to get flavors out of your hose, and a great way to combat this issue is to have several different hoses on hand, each with their own designated flavor.
Pro tip: you don’t have to get carried away with this. And if you’re not crazy about managing several different hoses, group them together based on overall flavor. For example, you may have a “citrus hose” when you feel like smoking orange or lemon-tinted shisha, a “berry” hose for blueberry or blackberry shisha, and a “melon” hose for watermelon, papaya, or mango shisha. Even just have one extra hose will be beneficial–you could have a “fruit” hose for all your fruity shisha and a “modern” hose for everything.
Fruit bowl, shmoot bowl. Everybody does that…you want to be different! Well, how about trying things from a different angle, like, say, the actual base of your hookah? Watermelons are naturally quite large, and can be hollowed out super easily.
A watermelon hookah base will give your hookah session a sweet flavor kick, and the flesh of the fruit will keep the water inside nice and chilled. It also looks super neat, an almost “Jungle Book” quality that you won’t be able to replicate with items from your local smoke shop.
Pro tip: in case you didn’t know it already, watermelons are rounded fruit, so you’ll have to flatten the bottom part out to give it stability.
I apologize in advance if you’re not a noob and know this very important tactic, but it’s such a biggie (and it’s makes such a huge difference) that I couldn’t make this list without it. Shisha is sticky and moist, so it’s tempting to simply pack into a bowl. Don’t do that. You need heat to evenly flow through tobacco, and to do that, you need to adopt the good old “pinch and sprinkle” method.
Beyond the big improvement you’ll get from your hookah session, pinching and sprinkling your shisha into a bowl comes with additional benefits. For starters, you’ll end up saving a lot of shisha, which in turn saves you a lot of money. It also removes excess molasses, which means you’ll get thicker smoke.
Pro tip: this can get really messy really quick, so it’s a best practice to pinch the moisture out of your shisha while it’s still in its original container. Bonus tip–you can use the excess juice to moisten up dry shisha tobacco you may have lying around.
Ice tips are an inexpensive, totally awesome way to cool the smoke before it hits your lips. They’re designed to fit most traditional hookah hoses, and using them could be easier–freeze them, and then place them on the tip your favorite hose. It’s easier than adding ice to base, and they’re awesome on hot days.
Pro tip: ice tips are typically not disposable, and as such should be cleaned just as regularly as every other hookah part.
It’s hard to fault traditional hookah bowls–they do their job and they do them well. But a “standard” hookah experience doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one. Hookah smoking has been subject to quite a few modern advances, one of the best ones being the recent surge of vortex and phunnel bowls.
Though technically a little different, these two bowls share a similar philosophy. Instead of having holes at the bottom center, vortex/phunnel bowls have holes placed on a raised portion. This prevents excess molasses from dripping down the stem of your hookah, and it keeps the shisha nice and moist. In other words, they’ll allow you to get more time out of your hookah session.
Pro tip: though the differences between phunnel and vortex bowls are mostly negligible, vortex bowls are typically shorter and hold a little more shisha, whilst phunnel bowls are taller and hold a little less.