Smoking shisha entails smoking flavored tobacco and non-tobacco with a special smoking device, most commonly known as a shisha. In different cultures, this device is also known as a hookah, waterpipe, hubble bubble, arghile, goza or narghileh.
Shisha tobacco is tobacco soaked in fruit shavings from fruits like apples, grapes and strawberries. A shisha device consists of a base, pipe, bowl and hose or a mouthpiece. The tobacco is placed in the bowl at the top of the pipe structure. A piece of perforated aluminum foil covers the bowl, on top of which you place a charcoal tab that’s been lit and has heated through. The charcoal tab heats the tobacco in the bowl. You smoke the tobacco by using the hose or mouthpiece. The smooth, sweet smelling vapor from the tobacco is filtered through the base, containing water.
How to set up a shisha
- Use a clean shisha and pour cold water directly into the base. The stem should be approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch) below the surface of the water.
- Assemble the shisha. Fit the shaft onto the base and the hoses into the holes on the side of the shaft. Every connection should have a rubber or silicone ‘grommet’ to make the fit snug and airtight. Test the connection between the bowl and the top of the shaft, then remove the bowl and test the airflow. Place your hand over the top of the shaft, blocking the hole. Try to inhale through one of the hoses. If you inhale anything more than a trickle, there’s a leak somewhere in your shisha. In that case, check all the connections again.
- Sprinkle small pinches of the shisha tobacco into the bowl. Try to avoid clogging the holes. Add tobacco until the bowl is about three quarters full. Press down on the tobacco very lightly to create an even layer.
- Cover the bowl with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Stretch the foil over the bowl, pulling gently at the opposite edges to make it as taut as possible. Once taut, gently pull down on all sides of the foil until the surface is smooth and flat. Wrap the foil around the sides until secured.
- Poke holes in the foil. More or larger holes mean there will be more hot air flowing through the shisha. You’ll need to experiment to find the balance between getting enough smoke and avoiding harsh, overheated shisha.
- Light a quick-light charcoal tab with a lighter or match. Quick-light charcoal tabs fully light within 20 to 30 seconds. Once the red sparks have died, let the tab burn until it’s fully covered in white-grey ash. Blow on the tab until it glows red, which indicates it’s ready for use.
- Move the red-hot glowing charcoal tab with a small pair of tongs.
- Warm the bowl. Attach the bowl to the top of the shaft. Place the hot charcoal tab on top of the foil. For the best result, allow the shisha to warm up for a few minutes.
- Smoke gently. Draw air through the hose with full breaths, but at a normal breathing pace. A strong inhale will lead to overheating of the shisha, adding harsh burned flavors. Most bowls last 30 to 45 minutes. We recommend you move the charcoal tabs every 10 to 15 minutes. Tap them with the tongs to knock off the ash, then flip them over.