A hookah also known as a waterpipe or arghile, is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for smoking Shisha Tobacco in which the smoke is cooled by water held in the base.
History and Culture of the HookahEdit
The hookah is thought to have started in the middle east or india. It is still a common activity today in that part of the world, and it is viewed as a social activity. Though traditionally middle eastern, the hookah is starting to spread through the western world as well.
Components of a HookahEdit
A hookah is made from many pieces which together make the hookah function properly. The basic pieces are the base, the stem,the bowl/head, the hose and grommets.
The base of the hookah is the part that contains the liquid through which the smoke is filtered. The entirety of the hookah rests on the base, so a stable sturdy construction is best. The base may be made of almost any material, the most common is glass or acrylic, though it can be made of wood, metal plastic and anything else that can hold water. The base is often the most styled part of the hookah, since it dominates the whole view. Bases are often styled with paintings, etchings, patterns and other decorative pieces.
-The Hookah Base is one of the most dominant parts in the way a hookah looks and is also vital to the way a hookah smokes - Hookah & Shisha Central
The stem is probably the main functional piece of the hookah, it holds every piece of the hookah together. The stem is made of the head gasket, the hose gasket, the downstem and the release valve. The stem is usually made of metal and is often decorated with plastic, glass or wood. The stem is attached to the base and it holds the hose, the bowl, release valve and the ashtray. In use the smoke travels through the stem to the water where it is cooled.
The Bowl, otherwise known as the head, is where the tobacco and coals rest. The bowl is ussually made out of clay but can be made out of glass or metal as well. During preperation shisha should be loosely packed inside the bowl then covered with a metal screen or foil, which then has holes punched in it. Recently the shape of the bowls has been modified to improve smoking experience, examples include the Tangiers Phunnel Bowl, the Sahara Smoke Vortex Bowl or multi-headed bowls.
The GrommetsEditGrommets pieces of rubber that are used to seal the different parts of the hookah, so the air flows only in the desired direction. They are located between the bowl and the top of the stem, between the stem and the base and between the stem and the hose. Because the sturdier materials like glass, metal, wood or clay often aren't airtight grommets are necesary to seal any gaps and to create a better smoke.
Hose Mouth tipsEdit
Mouth tips, ussually made of plastic, are attached to the smokers end of the hose and switched when each person takes a turn. These are often used in public smoking sessions and hookah bars to prevent the spread of germs, though people may personally choose to forgo them.
Wind covers go over the top of the bowl over the coals and the foil. They are used to protect the coals from the wind, and to prevent them from falling off the top of the bowl.
There are many new products which attempt to aid in the cooling of the smoke by adding ice. These include freezable bases, hose tips, and stem ice chambers. Each of these work with varying success
Operating a HookahEdit
Firstly the base must be filled, ussually water is used however, fruit juices, fruit pieces, ice, syrups, spices and other flavorings can be added. The water must submerge a few centimeters of the stem, if it is to low the smoke won't filter through, if it is too much water can end up in your hose and release valve. The stem is then sealed onto the base using a grommet and the tray is placed on the stem if it is removable. Then the bowl is loosely filled with tobacco, up to the point that it lies just below the top of the bowl. A metal screen or foil is then placed over the top of the bowl and holes are punched into it. Then the hose should be attached to the stem and sealed properly. After this a coal should be lit and placed on top, once this is done someone should start smoking the hookah. Smoke may not appear right away, but it should start thickening after a couple drags. If it does not then it could be one of many things, either the seal is broken somewhere, the shisha was packed into the bowl improperly or the smoker is not dragging hard enough.
Where to buy a HookahEdit
Due to their increasing popularity hookahs can be purchased in almost any smoke or head shop, however the biggest selection will be found online. Remember, hookahs are ussually not against the law in the US, as long as you are smoking tobacco, you do not need to worry about shipping a hookah through the mail.
Some hookah websites include: