Once again we are taking a look at the countless options you have when choosing a hookah and hookah accessories. It can all get very overwhelming and we are here to help you make well informed purchases.
Today the subject is the different types of hookah stems available across the globe.
First is the classic Egyptian stem. Hookahs, like the Khalil Mamoon pictured here, consist of a simple, straight piece of pipe surrounded by an outer shell made of thin metal that has been spun and formed on a lathe. It’s a process often used for the production of brass instruments and it can be seen utilized HERE to make a light fixture. The pipe is what actually delivers the smoke to the vase and the outer shell is purely for aesthetics. The outer appearance can range from simple to very elaborate and include many different accents like acrylic inserts, as seen in the Magdy Zidan Oracle, or different kinds of metal, as seen in the Khalil Mamoon Trimetals. This style of stem is easily the most common and makes up most of the lineup from Khalil Mamoon, Magdy Zidan and other Egyptian manufacturers.
Next we have brass stems, which are commonly found in Syrian hookahs. The older stems were completely solid castings and had no gap between the inner stem and the outer body. Modern versions are rarely completely solid as the price of brass has increased, which has lead to designs incorporating a center pipe surrounded by cast sections that have been soldered together. A good example of this modern style is known as the Nour Karakol. Here I have included some pictures of my own Karakol that I have desoldered and disassembled to better explain what I mean.
Not every brass stem you find is Syrian. The Magdy Zidan Cairo is a great example of this style in an Egyptian hookah. Many Egyptian companies have been producing more and more cast hookahs over the last few years in response to the love of Syrian pipes, which has blurred the lines between the styles a bit while making this style available to a great many more smokers. Mya Saray is a Chinese company that offers a wide range of hookahs and a good number of them are cast, solid brass with steel down-stems and ports. Their presence in the market and adoption/adaptation of this more classic style of hookah has set them apart and, to many hookah enthusiasts, made their products the only worth while Chinese pipe.
There are other styles of hookah that fall into a more traditional category that you are not likely to find. Some hookahs designed for jurak and tobamel have wooden stems that are made to absorb and retain the flavors of the tobacco but also some of the nicotine. these rarely find their way to the American market and really only have a showing in the most traditional lounges or homes in the Middle East.
Regal is a line of hookahs that combines a stainless steel pipe surrounded by turned, reclaimed hardwood and capped off with CNC milled aluminum hardware. These are some of the most sought after hookahs in North America and are only made in very limited runs or need to be special ordered.
A style that has been gaining popularity over the last few years is blown glass hookahs, which tend to be more expensive than their metal cousins and much more fragile. Meduse and Crown Hookahs are two of the big names in this particular field but there are some up and coming companies such as Roi, Lavoo and the newly announced Project One. There are even ceramic and clay hookahs like those made by Nectar Hookahs. The variation is as endless as the number of people who love hookah.
These are just some general guidelines to take into account when purchasing a hookah. Everyone has their own style preference and the most important thing to think about is really the function of the hookah anyway. Does it smoke well? Good. If it doesn’t then who cares how pretty it looks?