Hookah bowls can be divided in groups based on their size, shape, and the material they are made out of.
Hookah Bowl Sizes
There are three main sizes of hookah bowls: Small, Medium, and Large. The main effect of the size is how long the bowl lasts. A small bowl usually lasts about half an hour, where a large bowl can last more than an hour.
A side effect of the bowl size is that affects the heat management technique that you are using. Read the hookah heat management article for more information.
Hookah Bowl Shapes
The bowl can be wide or thin, deep or shallow, and any other artistic shape. A wide thin bowl allows the tobacco to spread in a larger area and therefore be heated more evenly. A deeper hookah bowl lasts longer and sometimes produces more smoke. The choice is really personal preference. The main shapes of hookah bowls are listed below.
- Egyptian Shape: This is the most common shape of hookah bowls that is shown on the image on top of this page.
- Hookah Phunnel Bowl: is unique in the way that it allows for the shisha juice to stay inside the top of the bowl instead of running down the inside of the bowl. This will give you a longer and enhanced smoking session. The juice stays in the bowl because there is only one hole which is surrounded by a wall known as the spire.
- Tombac bowls: Designed very shallow and made for smoking traditional unflavored tobacco known as tombac, tombeik or tombak. One large whole in the center and no spire unlike the phunnel.
- Vortex bowls: Designed similar to the funnel but instead of one open hole it has a closed spire with a few holes around the top edge.
- The challenge with hookah phunnel bowl is to get the heat from your hookah charcoal around the shisha and through the opening of the bowl in the middle which leads it down the stem into the base.
- Multi Head Bowls: These bowls have two, three, or four heads all connected to each other. You can pack a different flavor in each one of the bowls and smoke a mixed flavor without actually mixing the tobacco in one bowl.
Hookah Bowl Material
Hookah bowls are mostly made out of clay, ceramic, glass or steel.
- Clay Bowls: The most popular bowls. They do a good job of keeping the heat inside the bowl and need less number of coals. Most true clay bowls are made by hand on a pottery wheel. The classic Egyptians bowls are made in this way and Tangiers bowls are artisan made in the US.
- Ceramic Bowls: Ceramic is a type of clay that is used in mass produced items. They tend to look better than the clay ones and are more consistently shaped because they are not hand made but don’t keep the heat inside the bowl as well. They also break easier. The Mya Saray bowls and the vortex bowls are made of ceramic.
- Glass bowls: These come in two general varieties. The molded glass bowls are of lower quality and are known for poor heat properties. Hand blown glass bowls are high quality and come in a variety of styles. They heat up faster than clay and hold heat for a shorter time. Crown Hookah glass bowls are the current standard for quality of custom glass bowls.
- Steel Bowls: The only advantage that steel bowls have is that they don’t break. So if you travel a lot and carry your hookah with you. steel bowls are a good choice for you. Metal bowls heat up quickly and can be hard to manage heat effectively.
chad moyeron February 4, 2014 at 7:04 am
I have many different bowls, some good(my Egyptian clay, and my vortex bowl) and some not so good, ie my cheap Chinese funnel bowl. Have final started to get the hang of the two I use the most, bit this explanation helps to understand the qualities of the different bowls on the market. With the information stated here, I believe I will have a better understanding later when I go to purchase new bowls in the future. Thanks for making this post.
Hey Chad, I’m glad you found the page helpful. Hope to see you on the forum too.
Question: Has anyone attempted to take a steel bowl or other type of bowl that doesn’t retain heat well and wrap it with some sort of thin fireproof insulation? You still wouldn’t have the thermal mass of a thick clay bowl, but if you wanted a strong bowl that also has good insulating properties, I don’t see why it would be a bad idea.
Troy (Mister Thrice)on July 7, 2016 at 10:39 pm
I would also like to add that aluminum is getting to be a popular bowl material as well, and though I don’t support this next one, silicone is also supposed to be pretty good too… As a klutz, I cannot guarantee that I wouldn’t scorch a ‘sili’ bowl because they are only rated for up to around 600 degrees? But I know natural coals are around 300-400 (resting to inhalation, generalized) though multiple cubes can rack the temps up to 700+ degrees, and that would scorch a sili bowl, and thus, I am not allowed to play with them. To those without the ‘klutz’ gene (mental block?) It could be righteous though!!