A question I get once in a while is how much water to put into the base of a hookah.  This is a hard question to answer without a specific hookah in mind but there are some general rules that will help you find the answer. Detailed below is the simple process I use to find the right water level for my pipes and hit it every time.


  1. Start by assembling your hookah dry and checking how low the down stem sits in the vase.
  2. Fill the base right to the bottom of the down stem and test the draw
  3. Slowly add water until you get to the perfect level
  4. Pour the water into a measuring cup and remember the volume. That’s now the perfect amount of water to add each time.

If the water is too low then the down stem won’t be submerged and the smoke won’t make contact with the water. This defeats the purpose of smoking from a hookah and may result in smoke that’s hot and unpleasant.

The opposite of this is when the water is too high. This poses a couple different problems. The draw will feel tight and restricted because you’re fighting against more water. This is really unpleasant for most people and is a hassle to fix after the coals are on the bowl. Secondly is the issue of the bubbling water getting into the hose. If you are using a traditional hose this will ruin it. Even if you are using a washable hose this means that you could end up tasting hookah water. Trust me, that is not a situation you want.


Another option for getting the water level perfect each time is to actually mark your vase with a paint marker or sharpie. A lot of us don’t like the idea of marking up our favorite rigs but even just a small dot will do to streamline future sessions. Some vases also have painted designs on the outside that can be used as a reference. In the picture you see below I’ve filled the vase to the proper volume and you can see that it matches up with one of the wavy lines on the vase. I fill it to that point each time and never question my water levels.


These steps work best with vases you can see through but what are you supposed to do if you have an opaque vase? In this case I usually start by adding water to the vase two cups at a time and checking the draw after each addition. Once the draw feels good I record the amount of water used and save it for later reference.

It’s a simple method but following it can save you a lot of hassle and frustration. You really only need to do this once for a new rig and the rest of your sessions should be smooth sailing.

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12 years ago

Hey, great tips! I’m still having some trouble figuring it out for my particular hookah, though. Our problem is that our base is almost completely opaque, the ONLY way to see the water level is to shine a high-powered flashlight through the base, and it’s hard to see the level even with that. Any suggestions?

Abu Nafkha
Abu Nafkha
11 years ago

For the mini hookahs the length of their shaft is often short. Well, you COULD add water but its close to the top.
I have written this up in a hookah blog a few years ago.
“How to lengthen your {hookah} shaft”
This is a procedure that I use on very large hookahs,large, medium or mini :
Get a few of the plastic drinking straws that have an “elbow” bend.
For a large hookah cut the straw about and inch or 2 while sticking the very top of the straw which was uncut into the shaft.
For a large I can fit in 4, For a medium 3 straws and for a mini hookah 2 straws.
Now you can add less water to the mini hookah since you have elongated your….shaft!
NOT ONLY that, but the added straws make less large bubbles but have many tiny bubbles which silences your hookah to a very quiet level.

Abu Nafkha
Abu Nafkha
11 years ago

Hello kalutika,
I was the former blogger for the smoking-hookah.com
hookah lounge.org hookahlounge.org
I found you by typing in a google search.
Good luck to you
??? ???? ????? ???? ?? ?????? ??????

Reply to  Abu Nafkha
11 years ago

Hey Abu, still interested in blogging?

Abu Nafkha
Abu Nafkha
11 years ago

It seems that Kalutika is doing a great job with the blog!

11 years ago

Once you get used to your hookah you know where the level should be.
Thanks for the post ๐Ÿ™‚

11 years ago

Other than marking your vase with a marking try using a reference from the design or artwork of our hookah.

nancy beth Shirey
9 years ago

I finally got my very own hooka and thought I’d be able to set it all up from memory. Ha..that’s what I get for thinking! I am so thankful you’ve laid it out for ppl like me.

Reply to  nancy beth Shirey
9 years ago

Glad you found it helpful ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy your new hookah and the holidays

8 years ago

On step 3 you mention “perfect level”. So, stem needs to go in about 2cm (1inch roughly) in to the water?
Thank you.

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