Ah, to be young again in hookah-years. Back before the intricacies of Tangiers and Phunnel Bowls, back when you loved quick-light coals and you didn’t know the difference between a Khalil Mamoon and Fumo hookah. While that innocence is lovely to think about, it’s safe to say that your shisha sessions have gotten MUCH better over the years. Not only does experience teach us why things like specialty bowls, high-maintenance shisha and hand-crafted hookahs make all the difference, but just think of all the mistakes you made! As they say in history class: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. So let’s take a moment to remember our top five noob mistakes, in the hopes that future generations of hookah lovers will learn from their predecessors.
Hookah charcoal mistakes are definitely the worst, simple because they can be the most painful! Catching falling hookah coals, over heating your tongs, or inhaling burnt shisha can really kill your buzz. Don’t forget: when using quick-lights, let them turn COMPLETELY gray before placing them on your bowl, and when using natural coals, let them heat completely before using. Also remember to rotate your coals on top of your bowl every so often to keep the tobacco from over-heating.
4. The dreaded ruined carpet
This pretty much goes hand in hand with responsible coal use, but falling coals can not only damage your property but are a serious fire hazard. Never pull your hookah by the hose, step over it, or any other non-sense that might lead to a tumbling, burning ember. A few tips: use a wind cover, place a door mat under your hookah (one that you don’t mind if it meets a coal), smoke outside, make sure your fellow smokers know the proper etiquette to avoid catastrophe.
3. Dude. Where’s the water?
Completely forgetting to put water in the base is surprisingly common. Luckily it’s an easy fix, and you’ll know right away that something is not right. Incorrect water levels is something that is easy to be guilty of as well. Make sure that your downstem is submerged no more than an inch into the water. You need enough space in the base to draw the air from, and enough water to pull the smoke through. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but once you find the correct water level, make a mental (or physical) mark on the hookah base, that way it will be easy to remember next time!
2. Oh, shisha, my shisha
Shisha is probably the easiest thing to mess up. Whether it be a bad brand choice, an unfortunate flavor, or scorching your leaves, everyone has messed up once or twice when it comes to the tobacco. The most common mistake seems to be over packing a bowl – shoving in too much shisha too tightly keeps air from moving through the bowl and doesn’t allow the heat to evenly distribute throughout. Also, don’t forget to poke holes in that foil!
1. The problem of the purge
And the winner of the most common mistake that occurs when hookahing: not realizing that the ball bearing is stuck in the purge valve. It’s time to push out that stale smoke, so you give a blow through the hose…but nothing happens. So you blow a little harder, and a little harder until KA*POW! Well, you purged it. But instead of exiting out the purge valve, the water, air, and smoke shot through the top of the hookah. Now you’re looking at a tragic scene akin to a battlefield – hot coals are flying through the air, landing willy-nilly, burning your cat and ruining your couch. The bowl of shisha is soaked and ruined. Everyone is crying – if only this could have been avoided! When purging your vase, just lightly blow through your hose, if nothing is happening then take off the purge valve and give it a rinse and a dry. Also, make sure your ball bearing isn’t missing.
Those are the biggest missteps, and a few easy ways to avoid them. If only we could turn back time…then maybe we could have gotten our security deposit back on our college apartment…