Hookah for Beginners: A Comprehensive Shisha Guide

Hookah for beginners - Shisha Goods

If you’re new to the hookah scene, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the different types of hookahs, shisha flavours, and smoking techniques available. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll guide you through the basics of hookah smoking, from setting up your hookah base to choosing the perfect shisha flavour.

You’ll need a hookah base, a bowl, a tray, hookah coals, metal tongs, water, and your choice of flavoured shisha tobacco. We recommend starting with a simple, single-hose hookah to get the hang of things. Once you’ve got your hookah set up, it’s time to pack the bowl with shisha and light the coals. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy the smooth, flavourful smoke.

Curiosity: The European Journal of Public Health published a study in 2017 that found that 1% of adults in Great Britain use waterpipe tobacco at least monthly.

Key Takeaway Points:

  • Hookahs use heated coals to burn flavored tobacco, which is smoked through water.
  • Set up includes connecting hose, adding water, packing tobacco in the bowl, and heating coals on foil.
  • Inhale slowly and steadily to spread smoke throughout lungs. Expect a smooth, flavorful draw.
  • Quality materials like a ceramic bowl and natural coals enhance the experience.
  • Pack tobacco fluffy but not too dense. Let juices touch tobacco in phunnel bowl.
  • Try fruit flavored tobaccos first. Stay under 2 hours to limit nicotine exposure.
  • Share hookahs socially but avoid sharing mouthpieces. Follow etiquette.

Understanding Hookah

First things first, let’s talk about the hookah, or shisha, itself. A hookah is a water pipe used for smoking shisha, a flavoured tobacco that’s mixed with molasses or honey and heated with charcoal. The hookah consists of several components, including the base, stem, bowl, hose, and mouthpiece. The base is filled with water, which cools and filters the smoke as it passes through the stem and into the hose. The bowl is where you place the shisha, and the charcoal is placed on top of the bowl to heat the shisha and create smoke. We have written a complementary article about what is a shisha.

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When you light the charcoal and place it on the bowl, the heat causes the shisha to vaporize, creating smoke that travels down the stem and into the base. As you inhale through the hose, the smoke travels back up the stem and into your mouth.

It’s essential to keep the hookah clean and well-maintained to ensure it functions correctly. Regular cleaning of the stem and bowl is necessary to remove any residue that may accumulate after use.

Fun fact: Did you know he origins of shisha smoking are not entirely clear, but it is believed to have originated in Persia in the 16th century and spread globally over time?

Types of Hookah

When it comes to hookahs, there are a variety of types to choose from. Each type has its own unique features, advantages, and disadvantages. In this section, we will explore some of the most common types of hookahs.

Glass Base Hookahs

Glass base hookahs are a popular choice among many hookah enthusiasts. They are visually appealing and come in a variety of designs and colors. The glass base also allows you to see the smoke as you inhale, which can add to the overall experience. However, glass bases can be fragile and may break easily if not handled carefully.

Metal Hookahs

Metal hookahs are durable and long-lasting. They are often made from stainless steel or brass and are less likely to break than glass hookahs. Metal hookahs are also easy to clean and maintain. However, they can be heavy and may not be as visually appealing as glass hookahs.

Ceramic and Clay Hookahs

Ceramic and clay hookahs are popular in the Middle East and are known for their intricate designs and patterns. They are often handcrafted and can be quite beautiful. However, they are also fragile and can break easily if not handled with care.

Egyptian Hookahs

Egyptian hookahs are known for their traditional design and are often made from brass or silver. They are typically larger and heavier than other types of hookahs, which can make them more difficult to transport. However, they are also known for their excellent smoking performance and are a popular choice among hookah enthusiasts.

Khalil Mamoon Hookahs

Khalil Mamoon hookahs are handmade in Egypt and are known for their high-quality craftsmanship. They are often made from brass and feature intricate designs and patterns. Khalil Mamoon hookahs are also known for their excellent smoking performance and are a popular choice among hookah enthusiasts.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the first hookahs were made from coconut shells and were used in India over 500 years ago?

Setting Up Your Hookah

Setting up your hookah is an essential part of the hooka smoking experience. Before you start, make sure you have all the necessary equipment: a hookah base, stem, bowl, hose, foil, coal, water, and your choice of flavoured hookah tobacco. You can find additional information about hoses in this article.

Before using your hookah for the first time, clean all the parts except the hoses. Disconnect everything first. Wash each part with water and a soft brush. Dry with a towel. Let air dry completely before putting it back together. Clean this way whenever dirty.

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Next, fill the base with water. The water level should be about one inch above the bottom of the stem. If the water level is too low, the smoke will be harsh and unpleasant. If the water level is too high, the water may get into the hose or bowl, ruining the smoking experience.

After that, attach the stem to the base and make sure it is secure. Then, place the bowl on top of the stem. Pack the bowl with the flavoured hookah tobacco, making sure it is not too tightly packed or too loose. Cover the bowl with a piece of foil and poke several holes in it with a toothpick or a fork.

Now, it’s time to light the coal. Use a lighter or a coal burner to light the coal. Once the coal is lit, place it on top of the foil. Wait a few minutes for the coal to heat up the tobacco, and then start smoking.

Pro tip: Use coconut coals instead of quick-light coals. They are less harmful, last longer, and don’t affect the taste of the tobacco.

Choosing Your Shisha

When it comes to smoking hookah, choosing the right shisha is crucial. Shisha is the tobacco that is smoked through a hookah, and it comes in a variety of flavours. Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect shisha for your hookah session.


The flavour of the shisha is one of the most important factors to consider. There are many different flavours available, from fruity to minty to spicy. Some popular flavours include apple, grape, mint, and mixed fruit. It’s a good idea to start with a flavour you enjoy in other contexts, such as fruit juice or candy.

Type of Tobacco

Shisha is made of tobacco that has been chopped, mixed with molasses or honey, glycerine, and flavourings. There are two main types of shisha tobacco: blonde leaf and dark leaf. Blonde leaf tobacco is milder and has a lower nicotine content, making it a good choice for beginners. Dark leaf tobacco is stronger and has a higher nicotine content, so it’s best for experienced smokers.


There are many different brands of shisha available, each with its own unique flavour and quality. Some popular brands include Al Fakher, Starbuzz, and Fumari. It’s a good idea to try different brands and flavours to find the one that suits your taste.

Moisture Level

The moisture level of the shisha is also important. Shisha that is too dry will burn quickly and produce a harsh smoke, while shisha that is too wet will be difficult to smoke and produce a weak flavour. Look for shisha that is moist but not too wet.

Nicotine Content

The nicotine content of the shisha is another important factor to consider. If you are sensitive to nicotine, look for shisha with a lower nicotine content. Some brands offer nicotine-free shisha, which is a good option for those who want to enjoy the flavour without the nicotine.

The Art of Smoking Hookah

Smoking hookah is an art that requires patience, technique, and a little bit of experimentation. A sheesha smoking session can be a fun and social experience, but it’s important to approach it with respect and responsibility.

To start, you’ll need to prepare your hookah. We wrote an article that provides insight on the various types of hookahs and differences between them. This involves assembling the various parts, such as the base, stem, bowl, and hose. Fill the base with water and connect the stem. Pack the bowl with tobacco or flavored molasses, place a piece of foil over it, and poke holes. Use quality shisha tobacco and choose a flavor that you enjoy. Ensure the tobacco is not packed too tightly or loosely in the bowl, as this can affect the flavor and the amount of smoke produced. Use the appropriate amount of charcoal to heat the tobacco.

When you’re ready to start smoking, take a slow and steady draw from the hose. The smoke will travel down the stem, through the water, and into the hose. Hold the smoke in your mouth for a few moments before exhaling. Repeat this process, taking care not to inhale the smoke into your lungs. You should bear in mind Hookah smoking is not safer than cigarette smoking. In fact, a study published in the NCBI found that waterpipe smoking poses a similar risk to periodontal health as cigarette smoking, and inhaling the smoke can cause health problems.

During a hookah smoking session, it’s important to take breaks and stay hydrated. The smoke can be harsh on your throat, and the act of smoking can be dehydrating. Take sips of water or other non-alcoholic beverages between draws to keep your body hydrated.

Finally, the smoking experience is enhanced by the social aspect of hookah smoking. It’s a great way to spend time with friends and engage in conversation. However, it’s important to be respectful of others and not hog the hose or dominate the conversation.

Hookah Accessories

When it comes to smoking hookah, the accessories you use can make a big difference in your overall experience. Here are some essential hookah accessories that you should consider:


Coal is an essential accessory for smoking hookah. You can choose from natural coconut coals or quick-lighting coals, depending on your preference. Natural coconut coals are known for their long-lasting burn time and minimal ash production, while quick-lighting coals are convenient and easy to use.


Tongs are used to handle the hot coal when placing it on top of the hookah bowl. It’s important to use tongs to avoid burning your fingers or dropping the coal. You can find tongs in a variety of styles, including long-handled tongs and silicone-tipped tongs.


A tray is a necessary accessory that sits underneath the hookah stem and bowl. Its purpose is to catch any ash or debris that falls from the bowl, keeping your smoking area clean. You can find trays in a range of materials, including metal and glass.


Grommets are small rubber rings that fit between different parts of the hookah to create an airtight seal. They are essential for preventing air leaks and ensuring that your hookah functions properly. You can find grommets in a variety of sizes to fit different hookah models.


There are many other hookah accessories that you can use to enhance your smoking experience, including:

  • Wind covers to keep your coal burning evenly
  • Heat management devices to regulate the temperature of your bowl
  • Diffusers to reduce noise and improve the smoothness of your smoke
  • Hose adapters to allow multiple people to smoke from the same hookah

Maintaining Your Hookah

To ensure the longevity of your hookah, it is essential to take proper care of it. This section will cover some tips on how to maintain your hookah.


Cleaning your hookah is crucial to ensure that it functions correctly and provides a smooth smoking experience. After each use, make sure to clean the hookah thoroughly. Start by emptying the base of any leftover water and removing the stem from the base. Then, use warm water and a cleaning brush to scrub the stem and base. Additionally, it is essential to clean the bowl, hose, and mouthpiece regularly.


Investing in a high-quality hookah can make a significant difference in your smoking experience. When purchasing a hookah, consider the material it is made of. Hookahs made of stainless steel or brass are more durable and long-lasting than those made of cheaper materials. Additionally, a high-quality hookah will provide a smoother smoking experience and require less maintenance.


The material of the hookah bowl can impact the taste and quality of the smoke. Clay bowls are a popular choice as they retain heat well and provide a consistent smoking experience. However, they require more maintenance and can break easily. Ceramic bowls are another option that is less fragile and easier to maintain.


Proper care of your hookah can prevent damage and ensure it lasts for years to come. Avoid dropping or mishandling the hookah, as this can cause damage to the stem or base. Additionally, make sure to store the hookah in a safe place when not in use.


Regular maintenance of your hookah can prevent issues and ensure it functions correctly. Check the grommets and seals regularly and replace them if necessary. Additionally, make sure to replace the water in the base before each use.

Pro Tip: To prevent rust and ensure your hookah stays in top condition, use a rust inhibitor spray on the stem and other metal components.

Hookah Lounges and Culture

Hookah lounges have become a popular destination for those who enjoy smoking hookah and socializing with friends. These are typically decorated with Middle Eastern-inspired decor, creating a relaxing and inviting atmosphere. They offer a wide range of hookah flavours and often serve snacks and drinks.

Hookah lounges are a significant part of the hookah culture, which has been around for centuries. Hookah smoking has been a traditional social activity in many Middle Eastern countries, where it is often enjoyed with friends and family. The culture of hookah smoking has since spread to other parts of the world, where it has become a trendy and popular activity.

Visiting a hookah lounge is a great way to experience the hookah culture and try out different flavours. It’s also an opportunity to socialize with others who share your interest in hookah. Many lounges offer live music, belly dancing, or other forms of entertainment, making it a fun and memorable experience.

When visiting a hookah lounge, it’s essential to be respectful of the culture and traditions surrounding hookah smoking. It’s also important to follow the lounge’s rules and regulations regarding smoking and behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does a hookah work?

A: A hookah works by burning charcoal on top of a bowl filled with flavored tobacco. The smoke is then drawn through a water chamber and inhaled through a hose.

Q: Can I use a hookah if I’m a beginner?

A: Absolutely! Hookah is enjoyed by beginners and experienced smokers alike. This guide is specifically designed to help beginners get started.

Q: What do I need for my first hookah setup?

A: For your first hookah setup, you will need a hookah pipe, a bowl, charcoal, flavored tobacco, hoses, and water.

Q: How do I pack my bowl?

A: Packing your bowl properly is important for a good smoking experience. Use a phunnel bowl and pack the tobacco tightly to ensure even heat distribution.

Q: What type of charcoal should I use?

A: It is recommended to use natural coals instead of quick light coals. Natural coals produce better heat and flavor.

Q: How tight should I make the foil on the bowl?

A: The foil should be tight enough to hold the tobacco in place, but not so tight that it restricts airflow. It should be air-tight to allow the smoke to flow through.

Q: Are there any tips for beginners I should know?

A: Yes! Beginners should start with a small amount of tobacco, try different flavors, and experiment with packing techniques to find what works best for them.

Q: How often should I clean my hookah?

A: It is recommended to clean your hookah after each smoking session. This will help maintain the flavor and prevent buildup of residue.


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