Hookahs, known for the characteristic flexible hose connecting the mouthpiece, have been a cultural staple throughout India and the Middle East for centuries. Originally created as a tobacco pipe and typically associated with shisha, a molasses-sweetened tobacco blend, hookahs long ago earned their place in the hearts of stoners everywhere, owing especially to their history as a hash delivery method.
Though hookahs range from small personal single-hose pipes to elaborate showpieces with multiple hoses for friends, the entire category is unified by a singular experience: leaning back and relishing in the smoke. Hookah enthusiasts poetically describe the meditative vibe this method induces, ideal for movie marathons, Netflix binges, and winding conversations. This is not a device for a hit and dash, this is a device to snuggle up and get cozy with.
Much of this is owed to the unique heating method – a long-burning charcoal briquette that invites you to sit and stay awhile. The low heat creates a smooth stream of smoke that is water-filtered before journeying through the long hose to the mouthpiece. This makes for an exceptionally cool pull that is easy to control – perfect for inexperienced smokers and iron lungs a like.
Hookah Shopping Tips
- As with any device, look for quality materials: glass, ceramic, stainless steel, and silicone. Hookahs often become a centerpiece in the room, so it’s worth investing in one that you really love.
- Be prepared for some trial and error. Hookahs are extremely versatile and can be used with flower and dry herbs, shisha, concentrates, and any mixture of the above. Not only can cleaning, screening, and bowl packing vary quite a bit depending on the material, but much like temp-control vaporizers, there is an initial learning curve to the heating cycle of the charcoal. Consider packing cheaper materials until you get used to the flow.
- Make sure to accessorize. You’ll need a pack of charcoal at a minimum, plus a screen (sometimes included)or some aluminum foil to set the charcoal on. If you’re planning to share with friends you may also want to pick up a pack of plastic mouthpiece tips so that each can have their own.
The bowl is a wide basin with perforations at the bottom that sits at the top of the body. A screen or perforated aluminum foil is placed on top of the packed bowl to hold the burning charcoal.
The body connects the bowl to the vase, usually supporting a plate or ashtray on the top and housing the downstem that goes into the water. Some stems include a diffuser for a smoother pull.
The water basin and base of the hookah. Often quite decorative, and sometimes including a purge valve for clearing stale smoke.
The tubing through which smoke is pulled from the vase to the mouthpiece. Undeniably aesthetic.