Safety Tips for smoking a shisha hookah
Make sure the charcoal your using is not crumbly before lighting it or you'll have trouble transferring it from the charcoal pan to the pipe.
Light the charcoal outside or in the kitchen. This will prevent your living room filling up with unwanted charcoal smoke. This will also protect your carpet in the unlikely event the charcoal sparks allot.
Ensure the shisha pipe is stable before placing the charcoal. It’s a good idea to place the pipe on a hard flat surface such as a large tile available from any DIY store. If you have expensive carpets you may want to place a thick cotton sheet around the smoking area in case you knock the pipe over.

How to Use a Hookah Shisha Pipe

Shisha in Detailsb How a shisha should look

Preparing your pipe

Its best to clean your pipe straight after using it, that way the smoke in the metal stem doesn't have time to dry and leave a residue. Plus the last thing you want to be doing when your looking forward to a smoke with your friends is cleaning your pipe. A dry pipe and hose gives a better smoke. Make sure your pipe is clean or you'll start to get a horrible taste with each smoking session. Use soft brushes to clean the pipe and base bottle.

Fill the glass base so approximately 1 inch of the metal tube is submerged below the water line. The area left above this is where the smoke will mix with air and cool further. Too much water makes it hard to suck the smoke through and leaves little space left for the smoke to mix with air resulting in much stronger smoke. Attach the pipe onto the bottle as above. The metal pipe is not to be confused with the hose, see image above.

To enhance the flavour of the smoke, try mixing cola, lemon juice, orange juice to the water when using the same flavoured tobacco., or some other flavours to compliment it.

Preparing the molasses

Often the juice in the tobacco based molasses can sink to the bottom, give it a good mix before you take any out to put in the clay bowl. That way your not using dry tobacco from the top of the pack. When you open a large pack of tobacco its recommend to put it in an air tight glass container to prevent it drying out, the jar will also make it easier when you mix it.

If you're new to using a hookah shisha pipe try a small amount of tobacco first to practice getting it right. Place the tobacco into the clay bowl, about 8-10g of tobacco per smoke if you have a large pipe. Break up the tobacco rather than putting it in and covering the holes in the clay bowl fully.

The right Molasses

For beginners we recommend trying tobacco free molasses until your familiar with setting up. Its easy to burn the molasses, whilst a good smoke is heavenly burning the molasses will make you cough like you would with cigarettes. The two most popular tobacco free molasses on the market today are SOEX and High Life Herbal. Ensure the tobacco is not compacted or the air will not pass through and will make the smoke strong and give a burnt flavour to your smoke. Place the charcoal tray on the pipe, the grommet in clay bowl then the clay bowl onto the pipe.

Correct way to hookah setup  shisha accessories

Take a small piece of aluminium foil, big enough to cover the opening of the bowl. Wrap the foil over the top so that the surface is tight. Use a toothpick to punch 12-15 holes in the foil. You may want to suck on the mouth piece to see if enough air flows through the pipe. If its an effort to draw air you may want to make some more hole or ensure the tobacco is not too tightly packed.

   cover the hookah bowl    hookah bowl setup

Lighting the charcoal

Quick Light - Light the charcoal and wait about 2 minute after it has stopped sparkling before placing it on the foil if you are using self igniting charcoal on the foil. If you place the charcoal on too early you’ll be smoking the charcoal fumes before you get any flavour, wait until it has stopped sparkling/smoking.

Natural Charcoal - Natural charcoal is preferred by experienced shisha smokers as it contains no chemicals which may taint the flavour of the smoke. Natural charcoal takes longer to light but its worth the wait. You can light it on your cooker or using a torch lighter. Wait until it is glowing before placing it on the charcoal. The best forms of natural charcoal are coconut (cocobrico, coconara), orange wood or pure  bamboo (Aladin bamboocha)

When you first start smoking your hookah, try placing the charcoal on the outside of the bowl and working it around the edges of the bowl. The centre of the bowl should be the last place your charcoal is placed.

Use a large wind cover to prevent the charcoal falling off in case someone knocks your pipe. A wind cover also preserves charcoal by keeping the heat from escaping.

lighting the charcoal  Guide to shisha setup

 

Final Preparation

Place the hose grommet in the hole then attach the hose to the pipe. The hookah is now ready to smoke - we advise sucking gently to start with so the tobacco or molasses heats gently, sucking too hard will result in the top molasses burning which will taint the rest of if with a charred taste. Long gentle draws will help the heat pass through the tobacco.

Don’t forget to take in some normal air every now and then to make smoking enjoyable, too much of anything can be sickly. For best effect we recommend smoking with friends, after all the best ingredient to any gathering is good friends.

Further tips

Foil and Air Holes

Every 20 minutes use the toothpick to poke the holes again, these will become blocked when the molasses starts to cook, blocked holes will give you a horrible burnt tastes and make you choke. This is probably the most common reason a smoking session starts to go wrong.

Heat transfer to your pipe

Some hookah may keep hold heat passed from the charcoal and in tern heat the smoke passing through. If you find your smoke is no longer cool and even warm try the following. After a couple of long smokes (1 1/2 hours) you can run the whole metal part of the pipe under a cold shower or tap to make it cold. A really cold pipe makes for a very good cool smoke, a warm pipe will produce warm smoke which isn’t anywhere near as nice. Ice or ice water in the base makes for a very cool smoke.

None Tobacco Molasses - If you're new to hookah shisha, try herbal molasses first as they're easier to get a quick result from. Its also a good appetiser before you move onto the tobacco based molasses. Herbal molasses burns out quicker so use less charcoal to start with. Mixing 10g tobacco molasses with a 50g pack of soex gives a great smoke and helps prevent it burning. None tobacco brands : Soex , High Life Herbal, Hydro Herbal.

Tobacco Based Molasses - Generally have a shredded appearance. Use a medium sized piece of charcoal with thick foil or 2 thin sheets of foil.

Tobacco Brands : Nakhla, Afzal, Al Fakher, Al Masa, El Henawi

Leafy tobacco brands like nakhla tend to be stronger tobacco

Gungy Tobacco Basesd Molasses like Afzal and Al falher tend to be smoother and milder - These look pureed. They can take longer to get going but often give a much better smoke. You may need to use a big piece of charcoal or 2 pieces to get the molasses going, once its going you can take 1 piece off once its smoking ok.

Storing your shisha molasses

Often the juice in the tobacco based molasses can sink to the bottom, give it a good mix before you take any out to put in the clay bowl. That way your not using dry tobacco from the top of the pack. When you open a large pack of tobacco we recommend putting it in an air tight container to prevent it drying out, the container will also make it easier when you mix it. An old glass jam jar is recommended over plastic tuppa ware.

Charcoal

Quick Light - Light the charcoal and wait about 1 minute after it has stopped sparkling before placing it on the foil. If you place the charcoal on too early you’ll be smoking the charcoal fumes before you get any flavour, wait until it has stopped sparkling or smoking. Quick lite brands : Golden Flash, Golden River, Shisha Lite, Belgian Charcoal, Swift Lite.

Natural Charcoal - Natural charcoal is preferred by experienced shisha smokers as it does not contains chemicals which may taint the flavour of the smoke. Natural charcoal takes longer to light but its worth the wait. You can light it on your cooker or using a torch lighter. Wait until it is glowing before placing it on the charcoal. Natural Charcoal brands : Bamboocha, Exotica, Coconara, cocobrico, nakhla.

Dehydration

Drink plenty of water when your smoking as the smoke will make your mouth dry. Mild tea made with fresh mint leaves is a favourite in the Arab world. Smoking continuously usually results in not being able to taste the flavour after a few minutes. Drinking mild tea, coffee or water with a smoke means after each sip of your chosen drink the flavour of the smoke is back again. If you find yourself feeling tired the following day it will most certainly be down to not drinking enough when smoking for several hours, sometimes referred to as a "hookah hangover" .